Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ReCAP (vs. Pens, 4/6/10)

Recap (4/6/10); Washington Capitals 6, Pittsburgh Penguins 3

(Photo from Yahoo)

Box Score

Goal Scoring Summary:

1st Period
-           13:00 – Alexander Semin (39th, Assists: Jeff Schultz) – 1-0 Capitals

2nd Period
-          0:42 – Mike Knuble (28th, Assists: Nicklas Backstrom) – 2-0 Capitals
-          6:21 – Sidney Crosby (48th, Powerplay, Assists: Bill Guerin, Sergei Gonchar) – 2-1 Capitals
-           6:42 – Tomas Fleischmann (23rd, Assists: Alexander Semin, Jeff Schultz) – 3-1 Capitals
-           9:55 – Jordan Leopold (9th, Assists: Sidney Crosby, Alex Goligoski) – 3-2 Capitals
-           18:00 – Matt Bradley (10th, Assists: Quintin Laing, Dave Steckel) – 4-2 Capitals

3rd Period
-          0:49 – Jordan Leopold (10th, Assists: Pascal Dupuis, Sidney Crosby) – 4-3 Capitals
-          2:37 – Alexander Ovechkin (47th, Powerplay, Assists: Nicklas Backstrom) – 5-3 Capitals
-          19:59 – Alexander Ovechkin (48th, Empty Net, Assists: Nicklas Backstrom) – 6-3 Capitals


Another exciting game for the Washington Capitals as they start heating up... right in time for the playoffs. Their 4th straight win came against their arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the most recent winners of the Stanley Cup. This is a marquee match-up in the NHL for so many reasons, including numerous playoff series played as well as a battle between the top two hockey players in the world, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

Yesterday, the Caps were off to a roaring start, and never relinquished the lead; this was a nice change of pace after having to fight back from deficits in the other three games these two teams have played this season. The Capitals dominated Pittsburgh early, and managed to hold off any major offensive attacks. Though Semyon Varlamov, who got the win in net tonight, only had a .897 save percentage, he played much better than that. He was an unfortunate victim of a few horrible screens, as well as a strange bouncing puck. However, he was good when needed, and was a big reason this game ended up 6-3 in the Caps favor.

On the other end of the ice, the Pittsburgh goaltending did not have a good night. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled about halfway through the game; he stormed down the hall to the locker room noticeably upset, hitting his goalie stick on the wall in disgust. Brent Johnson was put in in his place; he managed a few good saves, but wasn't fantastic. By the time he was pulled for the extra attacker, the game was already lost for the Pens.

Both teams flexed their offensive muscle, but the Capitals clearly out-gunned the Pens tonight, who were obviously hurt by the lack of star Russian center Evgeni Malkin in the lineup; Malkin has had a rather off-year, and was "ill" for the night. The Caps were missing a few key players, such as Mike Green, Brendan Morrison, and Eric Belanger.... however, the offense still hummed along. The defense was slightly hurt by the lack of Green, but they still handled the Pens.

My Three Stars for the Game:
* - Alexander Ovechkin
** - Nicklas Backstrom
*** - Alexander Semin
     * Note: all three players were fantastic, so these stars are in no specific order.

Some more thoughts on the game;

  • I'm so happy that Alex Ovechkin finally broke his goal scoring slump; it was painful to watch as Nicklas Backstrom would try to pass every single puck he recieved to Ovechkin so he'd score.... that sort of play would hurt the team in the long run.
  • Ovechkin is now tied with Sidney Crosby for the NHL goals lead with 48 each; also, Ovechkin is now only 1 point behind Henrik Sedin of Vancouver for the NHL points lead.
  • Nicklas Backstrom truly is a world-class player.... I think he definitely is of the same caliber as players such as Ovechkin, Crosby, and Malkin. I hope that the Caps sign him for a nice, long-term contract, because the more games this guy plays, the more his price goes up. 
  • Backstrom had another fantastic night; with 3 points (all assists), he now is 2 points away from reaching 100 points..... thats world-class. No questions there.
  • Alexander Semin had another good night, with 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist). Semin is now 1 goal away from 40 for the season... which is also world-class. 
  • Semin is, in my opinion, quite possibly the best pure goal-scorer in the NHL. He is magic on the end-to-end breakaway. I hope that he has a consistent, 82-game season next year.... Semin could very well be the NHL goal-scoring leader if he did that.
  • Matt Bradley..... achieves his goals. When asked at the beginning of the season what his aim was for goal scoring, he said, "I'll aim high; 10 goals." His previous career high was 9, set in 2001-2002. Congrats, Bradley!
  • Meet your new NHL +/- leader..... Jeff Schultz! No joke, with Sarge's +5 for the night, he passes Ovie for the lead.
  • The NJ Devils and Washington Capitals are a combined 10-0-0 against the Pens this season.... not very good for the Pens' playoff success hopes.
  • Semyon Varlamov, even though he had a .897 save percentage, was solid. Very good for the Capitals' playoff success hopes.... two goalies, both ready to be the #1. Excellent.
  • The Washington Capitals swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in their regular season series for the 1st time in franchise history. Add that to the list.....
Another day, another game, another win for the dominating Washington Capitals. They are heating up right before the playoffs, and with the players returning from injuries, this is the best position we've ever been going to the post season. 

The Caps have no games until another meetup with Atlanta this Friday. Atlanta has been eliminated from playoff contention.... is a blowout victory by the Caps too much to ask for?

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