Posts Tagged ‘caps’

Unleash the Beast?

Photo courtesy of island_explorer

So the Capitals are sliding behind the playoff 8-ball. Hammered last night in Philly by a final score of 6-3, where Brière has lit a fire somewhere and Biron’s thrown up a Berlin-esque wall, the hometown hockey heroes has looked more like the ice-capades on a road trip.


Where’s the fire that exploded from this team in the third period of Game One? Watching Sunday’s game was like watching the Caps back in October, when the team was terrible and looking to beat Columbus down the standings.

Last night was marginally better, but only just.

The Caps got behind early on Sunday and never recovered; Ovechkin was double-teamed and his support cast was nowhere to be found. That’s not how you win playoff hockey – it’s how you give the opposing goalie a shutout. Guess what happened?

I’ll give Washington credit, they did try to stage another late rally, closing the gap to 4-3 on Laich’s goal at 4:34 remaining. But Philly rallied quick, with Mike Richards zinging Huet on a penalty shot less than two minutes later. Nail? Meet hammer.

Biron could’ve taken naps in his goal – the Caps had a total of 16 shots on the evening. Compare that to the final games of the regular season, when Caps opponents were seeing flurries of 30 and 40 shots.

Where have the Caps disappeared to?

Now, not all is lost. The series is only 2-1 in the Flyers’ favor. But they face another rough game ahead in Philadelphia before coming back to the Verizon Center. Which could be the Caps’ swan song…or not. Honestly, it’s really up to the rest of the team.

You can’t hang all the pressure on Ovechkin – though ineffective since his game-winning goal in Game One, he’s hardly at fault. The Flyers defense has been tightly focused on shutting him down (even after losing Timonen), and they’ve done so with frightening ease. In times like this, it’s dependant upon the superstar’s supporting cast to step up and make a difference. We know they can – we saw ample evidence of it in the last month of the regular season. Semin, Kozlov, Federov, Backstrom – pretty much non-existent forces on the ice right now. I’ll give a pass to Mike Green – his sniper shots are still scary as heck, as we saw last night.

So don’t despair quite yet, Caps fans. If the Flyers dominate to another win on Thursday, however…

Maybe the Pope could swing by the Verizon Center on his out-and-about birthday tour and toss out a few blessings…

IMG_5190 copy, courtesy of island_explorer

Seeing Red in the Playoffs – Now What?

Photo courtesy of Cruel Britannia

So they did it – with some help from a faltering Carolina team – and here the Caps are, at the brink of what looks to be a very exciting NHL playoff season in the run to Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Caps haven’t faced the Flyers in the playoffs since 1989, and have split this season with them: Caps went 2-2-0, with 14 goals scored; the Flyers pulled a 2-1-1 record while scoring 15 goals. So does either team have an edge going into Friday’s Game One here at the Verizon Center?


Don’t look to the special teams to win it, though. The bruising Flyers have the second-highest power play success rate – but you have to counter that with wunderkind Ovechkin’s whopping 22 PP goals. And both penalty-killing lines enter the dance on a roll.

So what about offense?

Photo courtesy of Cruel BritanniaEven. The Flyers bring to the ice a balanced but gritty line of experienced players that, at times, can be an oppressive force, wearing down opponents in the corners. The Caps’ offense is largely inexperienced in playoff hockey, but they’ve got some dynamic players in Ovechkin, Semin, and Koslov. More importantly, however, the Caps can score goals when needed during crunch time – provided Biron’s not standing tall in net for the Flyers.

Defense is also a push. Both sides of the blue line have some big bodies to bruise with, but the Flyer’s experience can be negated with solid two-way play from Mike Green.

Goaltending? About equal. Biron’s inexperience in the playoffs is balanced by his current hot streak – he pulled out two amazing shutouts in a row and seems to have hit his stride just in time to keep the Flyers from sinking. Huet’s posted solid numbers for the Caps and has a GAA under two in his last thirteen.

Coaching? John Stevens and Bruce Boudreau are both NHL playoff rookies that have done astonishing things with their teams this year.

Emotional quotient? Definitely in the Capital’s favor. They’ve pulled out a stunning drive after the trade deadline, stealing the Southeast Division title from the Hurricanes and riding some stellar play from Ovechikin, Laich and Huet. The Flyers all but managed to keep their free-fall from kicking them out of the playoffs, so the edge really goes to the high-flying Caps. Add in Ovechkin’s first run in the playoffs, and you’re looking at one supercharged emotional team right now.

The question really comes down to this: can the rest of the Capital’s bench step up and score when Ovechkin’s buried under orange and black sweaters? Because the key to a Flyer’s victory here is going to be stifling the Cap’s superstar every way they can.

If the rest of the team can step it up and crack Biron’s wall (and avoid multiple Flyer bruises), look for the Caps to take it in six.

FlyersCapsPr2 102, FlyersCapsPr2 060 courtesy of Cruel Britannia

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.