Saturday, March 21, 2009
The Former Whale 4 Caps 1
First off, here's the highlights from NHL.com:
For about 20 minutes the Caps played a solid road game. The defence held up in what was a close, hard-hitting game. The kind of game the Caps have been winning lately. But things turned in the second. The Caps D started fumbling around with the puck and giving it away. All three Carolina goals (the 4th was into an empty net) were the result of poor plays by defencemen. Mike Green was the culprit on the first 'Canes tally. He tried to do that thing where he anticipates the hit but no hit came and Carolina worked it around to a wide open Rod Brind'Amour for a perfect top corner shot and a 1-0 'Canes lead. It was part of an up-and-down game for Greener who looked like he didn't want to take any hits on that bad left shoulder. He looked a little tenative at times chasing the puck into his own end.
Green did tie it up late in the second on a Greener special: top shelf over Carolina goalie Cam Ward's glove. It looked like the Caps were going to reassume command of the game. But the 3rd period brought two more defensive breakdowns. First, I have no idea what Brian Pothier was doing on the eventual game winner by Joni Pitkanen. Looked like Pots got caught flat-footed and Pitkanen just outwaited Jose Theodore.
The worst though was Shaone Morrisonn's play on Anton Babchuk's clinching goal. ShaMoo got caught looking at the puck and Babchuk was Johnny-On-The-Spot, putting a rebound past Theo to salt it away. Just a terrible defensive play by Mo.
-Tomas Fleischmann is officially snakebit. Dude had a ton of good chances but Ward robbed him at least three times tonight. Flash has had a miserable 2009 after looking like he might pot 25-30 goals early in the season.
- I liked the line of Fleischmann, Eric Fehr and, dare I say it, Michael Nylander. They worked very well together and Nyls has been putting the effort in. He's not a total liability anymore, in fact, he's played well, I think, since he came back to the lineup.
- Alex Semin did a little too much DangleFest 2009 for my taste.
- The ice at RBC Center sucked tonight. The puck looked like a basketball bouncing around out there.
- Theodore deserved a lot better than what his defence gave him tonight. He made several nice stops and the goals Carolina scored he had very little chance to stop.
- As good as Theo was, Ward was better. This guy scares me in a playoff matchup. He can steal games all by himself.
- Ray Whitney is another guy that scares me on this 'Canes team. He reminds me of the way Martin St. Louis used to play against the Caps. Just a darting little menace. The sort of guy that would get my dad to say "Hit that little shit!" Can't hit what you can't catch though. Whitney made Morrisonn look foolish with a little drag move in the 3rd period. Then again, it hasn't been hard to make Morrisonn look foolish these days. He's not having a very good year.
- I love how Joe Corvo raised his stick like he knew what he was doing after he shot a 180-foot bank shot off the glass and into the empty net.
So all told a tough loss tonight. Caps could have reduced their magic number to clinch the Southeast Division to 2 games (if my math is correct. Keep in mind the reason I'm a writer is because I suck at math) with a win but now will have to play a little bit more hockey. They have an 11 point lead over the 'Canes with 8 games to play. If the season ended today, this would be your 1st round playoff matchup. Credit must be due to the former Hartford Whalers, they played well and earned the victory tonight. Until next time, say good night to da bad guys.