Halak survives shellacking

Last night's Caps/Ducks game was a bit painful to watch.  It started out well, with the Ward/Chimmer/Fehr line working their way to a tough goal in their second shift.  The advantage didn't hold long, though, as Lovejoy beat Halak only a minute later (after a very questionable non-call on too many men on the ice a few seconds prior).

The rest of the period largely went Anaheim's way, but the Caps did get a power play with half a minute left, and it took only twenty-one seconds for Brouwer to clean up the trash around the goal to restore the Caps lead.  I should also point out that OV caused the commotion with a great pass across the ice to Backstrom that got Hiller scrambling.

The second period had a very rocky start with Washington taking a too many men penalty two minutes in, and a delay of game penalty only ten seconds later.  But the Caps packed in around the net, which frustrated the Ducks power play.  So despite a huge amount of zone time, the Caps only gave up four shots on the double advantage, and Halak saved all four of those.

The rest of the period mostly went in Washington's favor (though not heavily), despite the two later penalties both going against the Caps.

In the third, the Ducks came out with a great deal of desperation, leading to an early goal by Matty P (one of these days I'll get used to him wearing 22 instead of 85).  That didn't much slow down the Ducks, though, as they searched for a go ahead goal.

But Winnik tripped Green, a minute later, as he attempted to corral the puck, and very aggressive D pursuit combined with fast, on-target passes got an OV goal from the OV spot after only seven seconds.

Basically the rest of the game was a long barrage of shots on Halak, though only a few of those required amazing saves.  And those amazing saves were provided, as the Capitals held on to take the 3-2 win.

According to one of the interstitial graphics in the telecast, that last goal tied OV with one of the Ducks (Perry, I think) for GWGs this season.  Not that that's a terribly meaningful stat, but it's still good to see.  Of course, with OV almost lapping the field on overall goals scored, it's hardly a great surprise.

That goal left OV only four short of fifty, which would be pretty amazing, given how low league scoring is (2.77 G/gm, per team).  I guess that cap hit continues to look ok for a couple more years.

But, in reference to OV, that Beagle experiment has got to end.  The best they've looked over the last several games together, has been to play keep-away in the offensive zone in one shift last night.  The cycling was pretty good (was especially impressed by MarJo, there), but it didn't lead to any shots.  Part of that is that OV is not a cycling player, generally.  He wants to throw the puck over to a teammate and head to a good shooting spot.  Not that that's a bad strategy, overall, but it isn't complemented by cycling.

Halak, as mentioned, looked very good, although he better get a break.  I get the feeling that Oates wants him retained, probably long term.  I think keeping him for one more year, to get Gru more work in Hershey, would be useful, but I can't see any reason to hold onto him beyond that.  And, of course, he'd never sign for one year, so it's kind of silly to pursue him.  One of the reasons the Caps have done well over the last couple years is that they've gotten good (rarely spectacular, but certainly consistently above average) goaltending for a very good cap hit.  Signing Halak would be abandoning that strategy, as I can't see him signing for less than $5M (and $7M wouldn't surprise me, given how much other goalies have signed for, lately).

Possessionally, the team did not look great.  Thankfully, much of the discrepancy happened during special teams and after scoring the last goal.  So 5v5 close Fenwick wasn't bad (47.5; not a goal, and not good, but not terrible), compared to overall Fenwick (sub-40%).  One thing to note is that the third line was the only one with a positive Corsi For.  The first line was a bit underwater, and the second was a lot (and the fourth was just buried).

The power play looked very good, scoring on the first two shots and generating eight shot attempts (five on net) in only two and a half minutes.  Gotta love that.

The PK was not great, with twenty-two shot attempts against (twelve on net) in just over eight minutes.  I don't have a breakdown on how much of that was the 5-on-3, though, so it might not be nearly as bad as it seems.  In any event, it was definitely a lot of luck that they didn't allow any goals.

I want to give kudos to Lovejoy, Cogliano, and Matty P, who all looked very good for the Ducks.  In Perreault's case, I was especially impressed with his tenacity around the net.  He didn't back off, even after having OV clear him out at the end of one scrum.  I wonder what Oates and McPhee think, when they see him play.  I hope they feel rather stupid for letting him get away for (practically) nothing.

Next up is a very tough Kings team on Thursday; let's hope they can wrangle another win.  Look for the Caps to go in the second period, especially, as the teams' scoring is equal in each of the first and third periods.  But the Caps are close to doubling the Kings in the second (78-44).  Go Caps!

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