The Caps battled back to force overtime on Backstrom’s goal with less than two minutes to go in the third period. They inevitably lost in overtime however on a goal which was actually deflected in off of Shaone Morrisonn a Capitals’ defenseman. The goal was somewhat cheap because Varlamov had great position to stop the initial shot.
It was really a shame the Caps lost because rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov stood on his head virtually all night long. Varlamov faced 42 shots on goal as the Caps were outplayed for the majority of the game following Alex Ovechkin’s goal only about a minute and a half into the first period.
Varlamov the 21 year old rookie with only six games of NHL regular season experience has outplayed the Penguin’s young veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury so far in the series. He looks to be the real deal so hopefully the Caps can ride him to the Stanley Cup finals a la another more southern team the Hurricanes did with rookie goaltender Cam Ward in 2006.
Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy were two other rookie goaltenders who have won the Stanley Cup and they both turned out to be pretty darn good. The future in Washington is looking bright with the mix of young talent they have led by Varlamov now and of course the Great 8.
One thing I noticed from last night is that Pittsburg is getting guys in front of the net and screening Varlamov more than in the first two games. Malkin’s goal was a direct result of Bill Guerin being allowed to basically post up and shield Varlamov. Bruce Boudreau has to remind his defensemen to push the Pittsburg forwards out from the front of the net more often.
Nobody can beat Ovechkin from a pure excitement standpoint he is truly the best player in the NHL right now. Ovechkin reminds me of a cross between Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros for his combination of size, speed, agility, and mentality. Like Bure, Ovechkin is very fast and can score the puck. But Ovechkin can also be an enforcer who isn’t afraid to check guys coming over the middle much like a pre-concussion syndrome Lindros when he played for the “Legion of Doom” line.
However now that Malkin has awakened from his slumber the series is bound to get even more interesting. I don’t know why there is always so much talk surrounding the greatness of Sidney Crosby, he isn’t even the best player on his own team. Malkin is superior to Crosby.
Most of Crosby’s points come from assists, and as most NHL fans are aware the assist in hockey is perhaps the most worthless stat in all of sports. For those of you who are not familiar with the ease of earning an NHL assist I have posted the wikipedia definition for you below.
In ice hockey, an assist is attributed to up to two players of the scoring team who shot, passed or deflected the puck towards the scoring teammate, or touched it in any other way which enabled the goal, meaning that they were “assisting” in the goal. There can be a maximum of two assists per goal. The assists will be awarded in the order of play, with the last player to pass the puck to the goal scorer getting the first assist. If a player scores off a rebound given up by a goaltender, the referee(s) will still award assists. (for further explanation read this article http://proicehockey.about.com/b/2006/11/26/when-statistics-lie-hockeys-second-assist.htm )
So as you can see just about anyone standing on the ice, even those players not directly involved in the play can be credited with an assist. The stat is virtually meaningless in some cases but still counts as a point to the players point total.
I am really looking forward to seeing the red take down “Sid the Kid” who has been undeservedly anointed the LeBron James of the NHL by ESPN and the other major networks, the real king of the league is Ovechkin. It is so much easier rooting for the Caps since they got rid of those god awful teal colored uniforms, what a joke those things were. All teams from DC should mandatorily wear red, white, and blue it is just a natural fit.
On a side note how much better are the commercials on VS. than those crappy ads on MASN? Someone in the warehouse should get the ax for those abominations; they make me want to vomit every time I see them.