Deceptive Game

I watched last night's Caps game in LA live, for once (the one advantage of the game being so late), and ended up a bit deceived about it.

It felt, while I was watching it, that the Caps had much the worse of the play during the first (Kopitar's very nice goal fed by Gaborik didn't help that impression) period.  In fact, they just felt (to me) like they were completely outclassed.  Fenwick, however, says that they were actually ahead in possession for much of the period, only falling behind in the last couple minutes.

The second period felt like the Caps were ahead for most of it (though I should admit that I wasn't paying as close attention to this period, for various reasons), but Fenwick says they were badly outplayed starting with Backstrom's penalty, three minutes in.

Most importantly, though, they managed to keep the Kings from scoring for the entirety of the period.  Unfortunately, Quick was up to stopping all of Washington's best chances (and they had some excellent ones) as well.

That pushed the game into the third period, when Washington finally managed to get their second power play.  Unfortunately, they weren't able to do anything with it, as Quick managed to anticipate OV's shots as well as handle the shots from the other side and up top.  Backstrom took his second penalty of the game seven minutes later, but despite a strong flurry, Washington stayed only a goal back.

But a few minutes after that, they did manage to even the score, as Backstrom hit Kuzya in the slot, and he skated around towards the back of the net.  Just before going behind, though, he threw it out front to Ward, who stopped it with his skate and, when it got bounced back to him (off the defender's skate), slammed it past the down Quick.  Another pure determination goal for Wardo, and his fourth consecutive game with a goal.

Unfortunately, the Caps weren't able to get anything else past Quick; including in the overtime, when they completely dominated.  So the game ended up going to the shootout.

Interestingly, Quick's record is only one percentage point better than Halak's, but his win record is far, far better.

The shootout started out well, as Kuzya went first, and put it over Quick's shoulder.  Halak then watched Kopitar lose control as he went first for LA.  But it was all LA from there, as OV and Backstrom were stopped and Carter and Gaborik both scored.

A disappointing ending, to be sure, but for a team that spent much of the game looking like they didn't deserve to be on the same rink as the Kings, it was hard to be really upset.

Still, they had a chance to win their first game of the season without scoring at least three goals.  So again, it's hard to be really happy.

Halak, as noted, did very well, stopping all but one of the twenty-eight shots he faced.  Possessionally, the Caps did reasonably well at 46% 5v5 close.  Even strength, close is probably even a little better, as they solidly dominated the overtime.

On the power play, the Caps did ok, with eleven shot attempts in four minutes (six on net).  Nothing went in, but Quick was forced to make several excellent saves, so hard to be upset there.

On the flip side, the PK wasn't terribly good.  They kept the Kings off the scoreboard, but allowed sixteen attempted shots (six on net) in six minutes.  The six shots on net isn't bad, but they have very little control over whether shots are on-target or miss the net (six missed, which is a very high percentage).  So it's hard to truly be happy with it, either.

One thing that struck me, finally, watching this game.  I think the Caps do a pretty good job on the PK, once the puck is in the zone.  But they don't do at all a good job keeping the puck out of the zone, and that's why they allow so many shots.  So I'm still skeptical about the Caps chances, long-term, on the PK.

Anyway, next chance is today (this article has been in the editor for over a day) against the Sharks, at the Shark Tank.  The Caps haven't won there since I was in undergrad, so I can't say as I'm terribly optimistic about their chances.  But we'll see.  Go Caps!

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