Caps and Playoff News
Word out of DC is that defenseman Jeff Schultz, who made a major gaffe that allowed the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky to score the winning goal in Game 1 on Wednesday, is injured and will miss the second game of the series. Brian Pothier, who was scratched in the series opener, will suit up on Saturday at 1pm at the Verizon Center. Schultz, who was +13 in 64 regular season games (fourth on the team), was just hammered on the WTOP post game show (hosted by Jonathan Warner) on Wednesday by numerous callers. Schultz’s miscue was bad but the overall criticism of him seems unwarranted to me but fans will be fans!
Goaltending has also been a hot topic going into Saturday’s game and I see Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau sticking with Jose Theodore in net. Theo had a very bad game but Washington only lost by a goal so why should he panic? If #60 improves the Caps should win Game Two. Backup rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov is untested in post season play so that is another reason not to switch. If Brent Johnson were healthy I might give a switch some thought but at this point, I think the Caps need to ride Theodore as the #1 goalie. Hopefully Jose has the same mindset he had on Monday when he spoke with the media after practice. Theodore talked about each contest in a playoff series only counting as one game, no matter what the score. #60 said that if you lose a game you can come right back and even things up in the next contest. We’ll see how he does tomorrow but I expect a solid performance from him.
Former Devils goalie and current tv color analyst for New Jersey, Glenn “Chico” Resch, was on Hockey Night in Canada Radio this afternoon and he told co-hosts Jeff Marek and Scott Morrison that he thought Boudreau should stick with Theodore and not panic, especially since Game Two is at home for Washington.
Resch also lashed out at the officiating so far in the playoffs saying that from what he has seen the zebras have decided two games already. The first was the Caps game as he said that he could not believe that Sean Avery was not called for interfering with Mike Green on the Rangers first goal on Wednesday. He also said that Chicago’s game winning goal by Martin Havlat, just 12 seconds into overtime on Thursday night against Calgary, should have been called goaltender interference because Blackhawks forward Andrew Ladd embellished contact from Flames Jordan Leopold and used it to bump Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff on the shot that eluded him. I agreed with Resch that goalie interference should have been called in that situation.
Some other good points made by Resch concerned the goalies and the play in front of the net. Chico said that forwards around the league know how to use contact by defenseman to allow them to crash into opposing goalies. He also said that defenseman are at a major disadvantage in front of the net because they can’t push them with their stick or body the way it used to be done pre-lockout. This past Monday, I spoke with Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn about the difficulties of protecting the front of your net these days and he agreed it has changed.
“It is all about body positioning and basically boxing out. You can’t lay someone out in front of the net with a cross check anymore. You have to have a good stick and not get tied up with a guy,” said #26, who had the game winning goal in a 5-4 Caps OT win over the Rangers back on December 23rd.
Resch thinks the league should expand the goal crease by one foot to help out the goaltenders.
Rangers Coach John Tortorella, who saw his team called for seven minor penalties compared to just four for the Caps, started the gamesmanship on officiating on Thursday by questioning the holding call on Dan Girardi early in game one. Boudreau fired back today saying “I thought if everything was done properly, they should have had 12 or 13 penalties instead of the seven they had. In my humble opinion, the Mike Green thing [where Avery tripped Green] was a penalty. They scored their second goal when they slashed (Shaone) Morrisonn’s stick and broke it. It’s tough for referees to get them all, but I definitely think they got the benefit of it.” Apparently today Tortorella tried to fight back by questioning the Caps face-off techniques. “I just want to make sure the faceoffs are legal,” Tortorella said. “The tying up and kicking can’t be done until the puck hits the ice.” The Caps won 70% of the face-offs in game one but on home ice you get the extra advantage of being able to put your stick down last.
By the way, if Tortorella wants to keep putting Girardi and Mark Staal as a defensive pair against Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Viktor Kozlov then I think this plays right into Washington’s hands. Girardi looked awfully slow in game one and the Great #8’s line dominated them. Only goalie Henrik Lundqvist saved the Rangers.