Caps update

It might appear that I've forgotten about the Caps lately, but that's far from true.  I've watched almost all of every game (I missed a little bit of the Toronto game, I think, and definitely all of the Vancouver game).

And the team's play seems rather uneven.  It might seem a bit ungenerous to say something like that after the fantastic effort against Tampa, last night, but it's true.  Possessionally, they've been very up and down.

As mentioned, the game against Tampa was great.  And most of the Jersey game was similarly (though not quite as) good.  Carolina wasn't quite as good either, but was pretty good.

Vancouver wasn't bad, from what I could see, except that the PK died instead of killing.

Toronto was decent, but some terrible luck (at least at the beginning; it did get worse as the game went on.  Also, I remember now; I turned it off when they went down 4-1 in the middle of the second).  And how often do you see both goalies pulled in the same game?

The two games against the Islanders were mixed; the first wasn't good at all (and I think I missed the first period of that one with DVR problems), but the second was a dominant one.

The game against Buffalo was extremely good, but Enroth stood on his head, and they couldn't solve him.

Colorado, my memories are very vague.  I think they didn't play terribly well, but won with a bit of luck.

My memories of the Arizona game are even more vague (though I remember the Erat embellishment call).  I believe they did pretty well, given the penalty imbalance and the shots being so close.

And I believe they just had their asses handed to them by St Louis.  It was the second half of a back-to-back, and they played like it.  And Peters looked pretty bad in net, to boot (at least, after the first.  I vaguely recall him having a very good first period).

Geeze, I didn't realize it'd been so many games since my last write-up.

After writing all those down, though, I think the team's been doing better than I gave them credit for, up above.  There were a couple stinkers, but they played well to very well in most of them.

Holtby's been coming back to where we expect to see him (outside of the Toronto game, of course).

Peters has been... not good.  I have to figure the team is trying to figure out a way to replace him.  Play-wise, calling Gru up would be better for the team, but it wouldn't be so good for Gru's development.

MarJo has been shooting a lot more, and getting rewarded for that effort.  Brouwer's been pretty decent, though singularly unable to find the net.

Chimmer's been up and down, with a couple very good games, and a number of bad to terrible ones.  And has also been unable to find the net.  I guess that's why he's been dropped to the fourth line, but I'm still not sure that I agree with it.

Backstrom has remained Backstrom, throughout.  OV hasn't been scoring a lot (last night's double aside), but has still been very effective.  I do like that he's been playing the walls this year, rather than always looking for a soft spot to take a shot.  Wilson... last night's excellent effort aside, I don't see him as really helping that line.

Kuzya's been quite good when he's gotten ice time.  I have no idea why he hasn't gotten more.  Similarly, I have no idea what's happened to Bura; why he's been a healthy scratch lately.

Ward's been pretty quiet, of late.  He definitely doesn't do as well without Chimmer.  Fehr has looked excellent; I'd like to see him move back up to the top line.  With him, that was a completely dominant top line.

Laich has surprised me since he's returned; he's looked very good.  Tenacious and skilled.  I'd be very down with putting him, Ward, and Chimmer back together as a shut-down line.

Beagle has managed two pretty goals of late (impressive on multiple levels), but I'm still not sold on him.  I don't question his effort, or that he's making the most of his talents, but he seems like a pretty marginal player for the NHL  My suspicion is that he's playing as much as he is purely for his face-off abilities.  In any event, thank goodness Trotz didn't keep him on the top line; that was a terrible combination.

Latta is also marginal, but I'd rather have him instead of Beagle.

Carlson and Orpik are doing a pretty good job of handling the other team's top lines.  They aren't dominating, but they aren't getting killed, either.  And there's a lot of value in that.

Niskanen and Alzner have been very good in a more sheltered role.  Alzner's been interesting to watch, for me.  He's been pinching in and generally attacking a lot more.  And it was great to see him open the scoring against the Devils, the other night.

Niskanen can't replace Green on the power play, but he's not half-bad.  I was amused at how low he got, playing the point, when he scored last night.  He was taking a point shot from just inside the left face-off circle.

Green... I hope he's healthy enough to return.  There was some talk that he would, against Tampa, but he ended up not even traveling with the team.  In any event, he's been fabulous when he's been healthy, and I love that the D is deep enough to give him the easier assignments.

Schmidt has generally looked very good.  Not as good lately, with Hillen instead of Green, of course, but still quite good.  I've been amazed at how he's been able to match up to some pretty big forwards, lately.  He's taken the body against several of them, and held his own.  I guess his skating is a big part of that.

And speaking of Hillen; well, he's been adequate.  I'll be glad when he's not on the ice again, but he hasn't been a disaster.  And really, that's about the best you can hope for, from a seventh/eighth defenseman.

On the plus side, the team hasn't gotten desperate enough to put Erskine on the ice (of course, he's also been injured for quire a while.  Neck surgery from something going wrong in practice, IIRC).  Let's hope that's the way things stay.

I'd very much like to see Orlov back.  He's a damned sight better than Hillen, and it'd be an interesting call to choose between him and Schmidt.  Get well soon, Dima (and yes, I know you're already at the long end of your projected time out from your injury).

All of which leaves us looking to the future.  I'm still not sure what I'd like to see, as far as lines, if everyone were available.  I'm hoping both Green and Orlov will be back soon.  And I hope Peters regresses back towards where we want to see him.

In any event, tomorrow night the team will be hosting the Blue Jackets.  I don't know what the state of their team is, if they've recovered from all/most of the injuries they suffered earlier in the season.  With the Caps playing them twice in the next week and change, though, I hope not.

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