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Sunday, April 18, 2010

ReCAP (Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2, 4/17/10)

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(Photo from Yahoo)
nhl stat leaders 41810What a game. The “Cardiac Caps” managed to pull out a wild OT win from the Montreal Canadiens inside a sold out, red-rocking Verizon Center in Washington DC. Coming back from 2-0, 4-1, and 5-4 deficits, Capitals center Nicklas “Mean Lars” Backstrom scored his third goal of the night, completing the comeback as well as his first playoff hat trick, which just happened to be his first career hat trick. Alexander “Russian Machine” Ovechkin had 4 points in his bounce-back performance, and defenseman John “The American Hero” Carlson was crucial as well, scoring the goal that tied the game up and sent it to overtime with a little less than a minute left in regulation.
Backstrom domination on the NHL statistical leaderboards!
My Three Stars for the Night;
  Nicklas Backstrom, forward, Washington; Backstrom had a hat trick and two assists. Overall, his performance was stunning. Should Backstrom keep this level of play going, I could see a Conn Smythe in his future…
✩✩
  Alexander Ovechkin, forward, Washington; Ovechkin had a great bounce-back performance after his shot-less, point-less night Thursday. Ovie had a goal and three assists. Way to go Ovechkin, just keep the performance up!
✩✩✩  
  John Carlson, defenseman, Washington; Can you believe that this is only Carlson’s 2nd NHL Playoff game and only 22nd NHL game in total? I sure can’t. The hero for Team USA in the World Junior Championships (he scored the winning OT goal against Canada), “The American Hero” strikes again, with an incredible clutch goal that left Jaroslav Halak and the Canadiens shocked. Andrei Kostitsyn’s hat trick for Montreal has nothing over Carlson. Called me biased, I don’t care!
Before the notes, here’s the goalie numbers for the night…
Goalie Team Shots Saves SV% GA Time on Ice
Jaroslav Halak
MON
37
31
.838
6
60:31
Jose Theodore
WAS
2
0
.000
2
7:58
Semyon Varlamov
WAS
22
19
.864
3
52:33
Some more thoughts on the night…
  • I still can’t get over how amazing Backstrom is. Wow. His play this year has, in my mind, vaulted him into the “Elite NHL Forwards” group, populated by such players as Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, the  Joe Thornton – Patrick Marleau – Dany Heatley line in San Jose, Marian Gaborik, etc. Not bad company, I would say.
  • Could it be that John Carlson is the perfect defenseman? Why not! He’s good defensively, has offensive flair, is only 20 years old, and is impossibly clutch.
  • Think about this; Carlson was drafted in 2008. He turned pro for the Hershey Bears last year in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. Those were his first AHL games. Now, a year later, he’s the hero of the USA World-Junior team, with the OT gold medal game winner against Canada, and is out scoring clutch goals for the Caps in the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s impressive.
  • As Bruce Boudreau said in the post game press conference, regarding John Carlson, “There's just something about him. Glory follows him. Some guys get that. I've said it before. They come up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, and they're the ones that do the damage. I think John Carlson's career is going to be like that.” We all hope so!
  • Yes, the Caps walked away from this game with a win. However, they did not play well. They did not deserve to win, even Boudreau agreed on that. All these issues, i.e. DEFENSE, must be fixed, and soon.
  • Tonight, the goaltending controversy once again reared it’s ugly head. Boudreau pulled Jose Theodore after allowing 2 goals on 2 shots (his first two shots), and put Semyon Varlamov in. I think that Theodore really just got unlucky tonight, but, looking at his career numbers when being the visiting goalie to Bell Centre, his former home arena, he has, to put it lightly, sucked. This leads me to believe Varly will be in net Monday, with Theo maybe getting the start for Game 5 in Verizon Center.
  • Varlamov was not incredible, but he was there when needed. Most of the goals were due to the defense, and not his fault.
  • Jaroslav Halak was not nearly as good as he was Thursday. He started out strong, with 2 goals on 23 shots through 2 periods (.913 save percentage). After that? 4 goals on 14 shots, good for a .714 save percentage. Might I say that we have successfully broken Halak? His performance Monday will be telling. If we have, that is excellent. The only thing stopping the Caps this whole time was Halak, though the Canadien defense didn’t exactly let the Caps into the offensive zone easily. However, no strong Halak, and the Canadiens are sunk.
  • Montreal decided to bring out the big guns and score yesterday. Well, the Caps simply answered right back, and it was too much for the Canadiens.
  • The Caps still need to improve in many areas, and they’re not out of the woods yet. Still, it’s refreshing to see the sheer offensive power that this team can unleash. Work on the defense, and you have an unbeatable machine.
  • Ending on a positive note…. the hats fly down to the ice for Nicklas Backstrom!
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(Photo from Yahoo)

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