Capitals are Comeback Kids, Barely

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So many things went wrong last night. Jose Theodore, the defense, lack of power plays. Then again, just enough went right. The Washington Capitals defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-5 in overtime to tie the opening series up 1-1. Nicklas Backstrom put in the winning goal just 31 seconds into OT, which also capped off a hat trick for him.

The game was a disaster from the opening drop of the puck. Canadiens' Brian Gionta scored just 1 minute into the game, on the first shot on goal. 7 minutes later, Andrei Kostitsyn scored the first of his hat trick goals, on the Habs second shot on goal. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau saw enough and pulled Theodore for Semyon Varlamov. Eric Fehr scored to make the score respectable at 2-1 to end the 1st.

The second was even worse. Kostitsyn scored 2 more, capping his hat, and leaving the Caps down 4-1 with about 3 minutes left in the 2nd. The Comeback Kids looked like there was no comeback that night. But with about a minute and a half left, Backstrom scored his first goal.

Entering the 3rd period, the Capitals were on a roll. A late 2nd period penalty on the Canadiens left the Capitals with 1:40 power play to start the period. They failed to capitalize (no pun intended). But the star, Alex Ovechkin, did finally strike gold and brought the Caps within 1 at 4-3. Backstrom scored his 2nd a few minutes later and it was a new game with half the period to go. Unfortunately, Tomas Plekanac doused the Caps fire by scoring with only 5 minutes left in the game. Comeback would have to happen quick. They made it interesting with about a minute and a half left in regulation. Rookie John Carlson, hero of USA Junior team, scored and tied it up again 5-5.

This being the Stanley Cup playoffs, the full overtime period required a full intermission for the Zambonis to smooth the ice. The layover was tense, but Backstrom cut through it quick. Before some fans returned to their seats, he scored, just 31 seconds in, to lift the Caps to victory 6-5.

This is not how Boudreau, the Caps, fans, and even the NHL envisioned the playoffs going. But a win is a win, even if it was luck, and not skill. Neither team was better than the other. Defense and goaltending were suspect. Sometimes the best defense is a better offense and the Caps, or more specifically Backstrom, was the better offense. Varlamov was not much better than Theodore, though some of the goals he let in were special situations including defensive breakdowns and a power play. Boudreau is in a similar situation as last year, pulling Theodore for Varlamov and now needing to decide for the Game 3 starting net-minder. Let's hope whoever is in goal at the Bell Centre Monday does a better job than Saturday.

2 Comments

As they say talent always rises to the top.

These are the types of games the Caps were on the other side of during the Washington teams of the 1980s as mentioned in http://www.thedcsportspage.com/2010/04/caps-send-wrong-message-to-mon.html

It appears that the Caps are trying to add more speed and passing skills throught the line up by some of the changes made in last nights game as expressed in Tarik's article in Sunday's Washington Post.

What is interesting is that the team hasn't changed the defensive pairings and instead continue to keep active players that can make the quick outlet pass over the more gritty and steady defensive prowess of someone like Erskine, who plays as big as his size on defense, unlike Schultz.

Morrison had a subpar playoff season last year and if his post season performance doesn't improve this season he may find himself watching a game from the stands in favor of Erskine.

Ovechkin may have scored a goal, but one isn't enough for the game's elite player. To say that he's the type of player that would take game 1 very personal and come out in game 2 with more vigor and determination is obvious. Suffice it to say game 3 should see even more of Ovechkin's presence now that the weight of the first win in the series is taken off his shoulders.

I would say Varly was much more solid in goal than Theo. The shots Theo missed should have been stopped. Varly didn't have much of a chance on the goals scored on him. It is obvious they need to step it up on D. That last goal that put the Habs ahead was a horrible play by Green. He should try to take control of the puck and get in the way of the charging Hab instead of trying to chip it out of the zone and basically give it to the Hab in stride.

I think this is case where you seriously think about starting Varly because I think being in Montreal will actual get into Theo's head and the first goal that gets scored on him will make those fans relentless. If it were any other team Theo would probably get the start again. The thing with Theo is he's either really good in net or just awful.

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    This page contains a single entry by Big Money Tony published on April 18, 2010 10:02 AM.

    Caps Send Wrong Message To Montreal was the previous entry in this blog.

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