Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Frozen Tundra

Schools are closed again today. Last night, the dreaded wintry mix laid a crust of icy goodness on top of the snow.... and more importantly, glazed over the roads. I'm just surprised MoCo waited until 4:50AM to announce it. There was sleet and freezing rain in Anne Arundel at 10:30 last night, so I know it was no better in the DC area.

With the weather, the AI meeting last night was cancelled, which meant that Pat and I could watch the Bruins game live instead of on DVR-delay. Marc Savard took an iffy high-sticking penalty seconds into the play, and Mike Green scored just as Savard left the box. It was a good start, despite a terrible interference call on Chris Clark just afterwards. Clark was pushed into Bruins netminder Tim Thomas by one of Thomas's own teammates, and the referee decided it was Clark's fault. Fortunately, the penalty killers did was they were supposed to do, despite Steckel being scratched. A bad pass later by Ovechkin netted Shawn Thornton his fourth goal of the season, but an interesting turn of events with :20 left in the period saw Tomas Fleischmann attempting the Alexei Kovalev "skating on top of the puck" manuever (not intentionally, but that's what happened), fall down, and Michael Nylander able to make the quick shot past Thomas to put the Caps up 2-1 going into the break.

A power play in the second period allowed the Bruins to tie it up, and there was a derth of scoring in the third. Trying to fire his team up, Donald Brashear engaged in some fisticuffs with the Bruins's Bitz, and both were awarded coincidental fighting majors for their performance. Then, with about six minutes left, when everyone knows that the next score is likely going to be the game winner, Alexander Semin gets a weak cross-checking penalty. Was it in retaliation for the stick-in-the-throat towards the end of the second period? Who knows. But it put a lot of pressure on the PK unit, and fortunately, they came through for the team. Overtime it was.

The first minute of overtime looked very solid. Then came the Backstrom hooking penalty. Yeah, Backstrom. The PK took to the ice again, and the first minute was good. Then, the unthinkable... Bruin David Krejci makes a cross-crease pass, Shaone Morrisonn in position... the puck goes between his legs, hits a skate blade, and deflects into the net. Theodore didn't have a chance. :(

The good? Overall, Theodore looked good in goal. Ovechkin, despite a hard fall into the boards (brought about by a hook from Zdeno Chara), seemed uninjured in his return during the third period. He wasn't happy about being told to go to the locker room though (presumably for observation/evaluation). Karl Alzner was paired up with Jurcina again. Sergei Fedorov had an amazing play to keep the Capitals alive in the second period.

The bad? The penalty killers are still struggling. The power play had six chances and couldn't connect on any of them (though the Mike Green goal was essentially a PP one, since Savard had only just been released from the box and was not in the play yet). The team looked lackluster when Ovechkin went to the locker room with five minutes left in the second -- this was a real problem, considering they were on the power play, and if anything, seeing their top player hurt should have shook them up to play even harder.

A couple of days off, then the Red Wings come to town. The Caps can play with the big dogs when they put their minds to it. Let's see how this East/West matchup goes.

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