Saturday Night Caps
The Caps are in Detroit to take on the Red Wings tonight (7pm on Comcast SportsNet) and despite a 2-1-1 start and scoring 18 goals in those games there appears to be some causes for concern. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau was clearly agitated with his team following Thursday’s loss to the Rangers and the 2007-08 Jack Adams Award winning coach spent Friday breaking down video and then going over it with his club before they headed to the Motor City. In a nutshell, there are two pretty big problems right now, the way I see it:
1. The goaltending has been very inconsistent with both Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov looking brilliant at times but then breaking down at critical stages of the game, and
2. The players are not sticking to the system, something Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin have both said is necessary for this team to take it to the next level and win the Stanley Cup.
The first period has not been the issue as Washington still has not allowed an opening period tally, however, in the third period and beyond, where games are won and lost, the Caps have given up eight goals (over half of the 15 total they have allowed on the season). The goalies have to make the big stop and the players cannot free lance. It is far too early to be panicking but Boudreau expects more structure and consistency.
Given the high profile of the Red Wings, I expect Washington to be focused and on their game tonight in Motown. The Caps also catch a break as power forward Johan Franzen needs ACL surgery and will miss at least four months. But GM Ken Holland and head Coach Mike Babcock still have three of the best players in the NHL in forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom. The Wings appear to be on the decline but they really have no where to go but down given their domination the last couple of years in the West.
The goaltending is an area of concern in Detroit as well with Chris Osgood in the twilight of his career but #30 did stop 32 of 34 shots against the high flying Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. It was Osgood’s best outing of the season and he still has a sub 90% save percentage in 3 games (.895). Backup goalie Jimmy Howard gave up 5 goals on 32 shots in his only regular season appearance last Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues.
It is hard to win in Detroit but I am predicting the Caps get it done tonight, 4-3.
On Thursday night the Calgary Flames scored with 1.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the Edmonton Oilers and then they won the game in a shootout, 4-3. The big news from that game was the hit from Jarome Iginla on Sheldon Souray that injured the Oiler defenseman and had #12 apologizing. Iginla plays hard, is not a dirty player, and is a class act so he was not trying to hurt Souray, he was just trying to finish his check. Oilers coach Pat Quinn went on a rant following the game and it has cost him $10K. Yes Quinn should be upset and any coach or GM would be disguted if one of their top players was hurt on a play like that, however, the outrage and comments from the old school bench boss were over the top and went on too long.
I think it would be an understatement to say the Caps, Flyers, and Penguins don’t like each other and on Thursday night the Pittsburgh-Philly game had Pens d-man Kris Letang claiming big Flyers forward Scott Hartnell bit him. It appears #19 has been cleared of any wrong doing. Pittsburgh won game one of their season series, 5-4. Any contests between two of these three teams will be “Can’t Miss Hockey” this year.
Stat of the Day: The Los Angeles Kings have been shorthanded 11 times in just three games (all at home too) and have given up a whopping 7 goals! The good news is their power play has gone 5 for 12 so despite the PK problems they have still won two of their three games (2-1).