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Archive for April, 2011

The Caps took it easy on the Lightening last night and now find themselves down 1-0 and facing a must-win situation in Game 2 at home on Sunday night.  A lot of folks are talking about the Caps being rusty, but really that only seemed to be the case for the 1st 3 minutes or so, during which time Tampa scored a goal off of a turnover from Mike Green.  However, Tampa made its own goof shortly after turning the puck over after a slick deflection by Marco Sturm fed the puck on to Semin’s stick who rocketed a shot past Roloson that the latter probably wishes he could have back.  Anyway, I guess my point is that even though we may have been rust after the 1st 10 minutes of the game, we were even with Tampa, generating more chances, slamming them all over the ice and putting relentless pressure on the Lightening net.

We continued to do so for the 1st 5 minutes of the 2nd period and even took the lead.  At that point, no one watching the game would have said to themselves that the Caps were rusty.  But then all of a sudden, we took the foot off the pedal, took some dumb penalties, got an unlucky break on Tampa’s 2nd goal and found ourselves behind after 40 minutes in a game we had dominated for the better part of 30 minutes.

In fact the Caps had many bad breaks during the game:  Brooks Laich disallowed goal (which was the right call), Semin hitting the post on a rocket of a one-timer on the PP, and a bouncing puck which Backstrom could not corral right in front of the net.  But those things happen in hockey and we would have overcome them if we had not made some of the other mistakes and stopped skating the way we did for the final 30 minutes.

I take issue with Boudreau not playing his 4th line like he did for most of the night.  Even if the Lightening did not suffer injuries to their forwards like they had, we should have taken the approach of trying to wear down a tired team, not match them line-for-line.  They only suited up 11 forward so we should have our 12 forward grind them down with a steady forecheck.

Some of the guys who did not play well include Ovie, who was carrying the puck too much into the attacking zone.  We saw this last year.  He needs to allow Nicky to do his job.  Speaking of Nicky, something is definitely wrong with him.  In the 3rd period, Ovie set him up with a great pass between the circles and Nicky just shanked an 18-foot shot at the net.  From replays, it looked like he missed it by 5 feet.  He was constantly getting kicked out of the face-off circle for whatever reason and the face-offs he did win did not have that much starch on them.  It’s hard to imagine him being as absent over a 6-game stretch since the start of the post-season as he has.  I have to wonder if he is injured or his previous injury to his left hand has crept up again.

The Caps for whatever reason also did a bad job on the PP in the 2nd and 3rd periods. We didn’t get enough shots at net and didn’t really move the puck from side-to-side either.  Our very 1st PP towards the end of the 1st period was excellent and we almost scored on Semin’s shot which would have totally changed the game of course, but we didn’t and Tampa adjusted and we reverted to a dead looking man-advantage that we saw earlier in the year.  I wonder whether Ovie should not play on the point and we should Arnott back there and move Green to the left side where he can use his slick right-handed shot to get more pucks to the net quickly.  He got tied up on several passes last night trying to get himself into proper position to shoot the puck.

One loss does not mean we are going home, but after such a long lay-off and keeping in mind how good we looked only a week ago against New York, it sure was disappointing.  We will go a long way to erase all these doubt with a solid performance on Sunday.  If not, it may really be time to hit the panic button.  The Caps must win this series and after a humbling experience last night, all we can hope for is that Ovie, Arnie, Scotty, Brooks and of course our coach can rally the troops and we come out with an intensity and focus on Sunday that Tampa has not yet seen this year and right the wrong that happened in D.C. last night.

Double vision: Let the home of BBRs be the first to welcome Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins and Leonard Hankerson to their new mythical positions as BBRs. While they may still be caught up in the idea of simply being drafted in the NFL, they probably do not fully realize what a unique and important position they play in the mythical ethos of greatness that has come to be recognized as BBR.  Let us hope that their careers mirror those of past legendary BBRs and lead all of us to a nirvana that seems to recently have been so unattainable.

Shanny and his team of nutty ego-maniacs have done a good job during this draft.  Using the 1st two picks on defense and in particular our front 7, was very wise.  Addressing the pass rush with Kerrigan and the nose tackle position with Jenkins shows that Shanny is paying attention and not just drafting for his son.  The addition of Hankerson seems to have been a good one and I like the idea of drafting receivers after the 1st two rounds.   With the accumulation of picks for today, (10 in total), the Redskins have put themselves in a position to draft for other positions of need which include: running back, cornerback, offensiveline and maybe even quarterback.

For a team that only have two picks during the 1st four rounds going into the draft and will not have a pick in each round including many 5th and below, the Shanny’s and Captain Gold Pants showed they can deal with the best of ’em.  And while I have never seen any of these players play who are now BBR, the positions selected reflect that of an organization trying to build things the proper way.

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Last night, I spent about two hours flipping between the two game 7’s in hockey, the Nats game and I even looked a little at the end of regulation between Memphis and the Spurs.  When I saw the dude hit the tying 3-pointer however, I went to bed.  I was not that interested to lose sleep over.

So all of us in D.C. finally found out who our next opponents are in the playoffs:  the Lightening – a worthy f#@$in’ adversary.  I really wanted to play Buffalo and couldn’t decide between the other 3 teams who was best for us to play since they all presented major problems.  I will preview the series in full tomorrow, but for now, I think it’s safe to say that this series will not be easy.

As those of you who read this blog know, I don’t like college football and I never watch it.  So thus, I know nothing about any of the players who will be selected tonight in the NFL Draft.  However, I thought I would do a 1st for B2BR and find some player that we support to be the Redskins pick at #10.  To do this, I enlisted the help of my cousin, who is also a die-hard ‘Skins fan and whose knowledge of college football infinitely surpasses mine.

Now before I move forward with my much anticipated candidate to be the Redskins next highly acclaimed and much anticipated BBR, I will say that my ultimate preference is for the Redskins to trade their pick in order to acquire another 2nd round choice in this year’s draft.   And with those picks, I want the Redskins to select any position they like aside from quarterback or wide-receiver.  Wide-receivers continue to be overly-valued in the NFL and quarterbacks are just too risky for a team like the Redskins who have so many more needs.

With all that being said, if the Redskins do not trade their pick, I want them, at #10 in the 1st round, to select………Robert Quinn.   He will compliment Brian Orakpo and like Orakpo, according to my highly knowledgeable cousin, should be able to make the transition to the 3-4 as an outside linebacker rushing the passer.   This is the kind of sensible pick the Redskins should make.  Some may say that Quinn has character issues in college, but according to my highly knowledgeable cousin, Quinn got into trouble for accepting jewelry as a gift.  That won’t happen when he gets paid beaucoup bucks as a top 10 draft pick in the NFL.   His sin is that of greed, not rage or malice and I think I can live with that on my team.

Of course, I will not watch the draft tonight as it is one of the most boring television events ever thought of.   Instead, I will think about the Caps & Lightening and watch the Nats game hoping they can finally get this bad play turned around by not having our bullpen collapse, our hitters abandon tons of men on base and our pitchers give us a decent outing.  If 2 out of those 3 things happen, we can avoid being swept by an equally unimpressive outfit like the Mets, but last night as the night before, the wheels fell off the truck once again right when we thought we had them.

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Easy street – for now

Arnott and the DC faithful celebrate the Caps opening goal of Game 5 notched by Mike Green in Washington's 3-1 series clinching win yesterday afternoon at the Phone Booth.

Any D.C. sports fan has to be leaning back and relishing yesterday, relishing what it feels like to see a team begin to perform up to expectations, relishing a team playing up to its ability at least for a short period of time.  Everybody said that the Caps needed to show up and stomp the Rangers and aside from the 1st shift of the game, where the Rangers  peppered Neuvy with shots, the Caps did exactly what the doctor ordered.  We dominated time of possession, dominated on the forecheck, did not take any dumb penalties and put constant pressure on Lundqvist, the Rangers defense and did not allow the entire New York team a chance to breathe.  It was perfection as hockey goes.  It was as perfect as a crowd could be.  It was as perfect as one could end a 1st round series, in front of our hometown fans who got to show their appreciation for our hockey team and allowed all of the D.C. area to sit back, exhale and say “Yes!!!”.

Since the Caps lost to the Pens two seasons ago in the 2nd round, no D.C. sports team has won anything of note, not one playoff game, not more than one game in the NCAA tournament, not nothing.  And while much bigger things are still expected of the Caps, right now we needed to win Game 5 and win we did and without that much doubt.

Looking back on the series, there are many heroes.  The ones that come to mind immediately are Ovie, Semin, Chimera, Johansson and Neuvy and without a doubt, all of these guys are going to continue to have to be big for us if the Caps are to advance past the next series.  But there are some other players, we should mention.  Brooks Laich did not score, but had 4 assists and they were a big 4 assists.  He assisted on the game-winner on game 2 and Ovie’s game-winner yesterday.  He also assisted on the 2nd goal of the 3rd period comeback in Game 4.  He also was huge winning face-offs and was excellent on the PK which as a unit was obviously excellent.  He played on two different lines and filled in very well for Knuble the latter half of Game 4 and all of Game 5. The Rangers could not play with us 5-on-5 and that showed yesterday when we stayed out of the box and grounded them down to a pulp.

Clearly Carlson and Alzner continue to develop into a stronger and more dependable top defensive pairing, but Scott Hannan had an excellent series, making smart decisions with the puck, recovering well on defense and using his savvy to win position battles all over the ice.  Boyd Gordon was excellent anchoring the PK and, along with Arnott and Laich, won a ton of key face-offs especially in the defensive end.

These are the things that have to make you happy for all of us Caps fans.  In this series, aside from Backstrom, who himself did not play poorly by any stretch – his solid play was shown in his defensive positioning and strong work on the PK although we could use his scoring as well- all of our  big stars scored and yet have continued to demonstrate a commitment to the new defensive philosophy of the team.  We had role players contribute mightily in the form of Chimera who scored two huge goals and our young players, most notably Marky

The Caps salute the hometown fans after clinching their 1st round series against the Rangers 4 games to 1.

(Johansson’s new nickname),  Neuvy, Carlson and Alzner all playing huge, big-impact minutes.   On top of that, our big trade acquisitions in Arnott and Hannan are leading us on and off the ice.  The pieces of the puzzle seem to be fitting together.

We still have a long way to go, but this series, filled with doubt, fear and skepticism, has now given us a dose of confidence and some well-needed rest while all the other teams in the Eastern Conference continue to beat each other’s heads in long, grueling series.  Not to mention that we can now comfortable say that we own the Rangers which makes me feel good after having been owned by the Giants for the last several years.  So New York, we’re even.

One battle won.  4 games won with 12 more to go.  There is some magic in the air.  Let’s see if it develops into something historic.

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Chimera takes his place among Caps playoff heros as he celebrates netting the game winner in double-OT as the Caps come all the way back to beat the Rangers 4-3 after trailing 3-0 at the beginning of the 3rd period.

Chimera takes his place among Caps playoff heros as he celebrates netting the game winner in double-OT as the Caps come all the way back to beat the Rangers 4-3 after trailing 3-0 at the beginning of the 3rd period.

How many people will admit, like I did last night to my wife and to my old man, that you thought the Caps had no chance to comeback down 3-0 at the end of the 2nd period?  Even when Semin scored the goal to make it 3-1, I wasn’t excessively pumped because we still needed to score 2 goals in less than 20 minutes and in no point in this series had we scored more than 2 goals in an entire game.  Then of course, when Johansson scored his 1st goal less than a minute later, then my blood started pumping again.  Then I jumped out of my chair and started gyrating strangely on my living room carpet.  Then I started pumping fists.  Then I started having hope.  And about 90 minutes later, we had won and life breathed freely into my lungs again and my heart stopped palpitating – we had won.

All D.C. fans can appreciate having a comeback like this against a New York team because while the Rangers are not as big rivals for us as the Flyers and Penguins, the fact of the matter is that this is the 2nd time in 3 years that we have met them in the playoffs.  We also are old Patrick Division foes.  But above all, these same Rangers fans that were taunting Boudreau, the Caps and all of D.C. are the same Giants and Mets fans that love to come a rub our noses in their teams recent superiority over our football and baseball teams.  Washington fans have eaten their words in the past, but no one is as loud and arrogant as New York and Philly fans when they are WINNING, and no one is so sullen and amazingly quiet when they lose and boy, did New York ever lose last night.  And frankly,  and I know this sounds very small, I take happiness in the fact that our team caused their misery.  Sorry, but I just do.

See, I lost hope in the 2nd period because the Caps were reverting to their play of last year against Montreal where they were just slinging pucks at net from the edges with no one driving the center lanes or parking themselves in front of the net to make life difficult for the goalie.  I was upset because the Rangers 2nd goal, while lucky, came as a result of them controlling the boards in our end of the ice and controlling the puck without much resistance.  The 2nd goal came because no one on the Caps, ever our young cornerstones Carlson and Alzner, were willing to push the Rangers out of our crease.  And the 3rd goal came because no one stopped the puck and the Rangers scored on what was basically a 1-on-3 rush.  We were playing like a bunch of wimps.

But then something changed.  Semin started fighting like crazy for loose pucks and firing everything at the net.  Johansson stared skating with speed and determination and started putting the Rangers on their heals.  Arnott started winning face-offs like they were going out of style and started battling like crazy for pucks behind the Rangers net.  Then Brooks Laich, who has had an outstanding series, got moved up to the top line and started fighting like crazy for loose pucks and started hitting Rangers every time he could.  Then Mike Green started becoming dangerous on the rush and then Carlson and Alzner stopped their sloppy play of the 1st two periods and started controlling the blue line as they did on the tying goal with Johansson making life difficult for his countrymen Lundqvist by parking in front of the net.

All of a sudden the Caps were fighting and battling and skating like crazy and not playing like a bunch of wimps, but a bunch of men.  Then everyone in D.C. starting hoping that maybe we could be witnessing something special.

The Caps still took too many penalties and frankly all of them were the correct calls aside from the trip call on Gordon in the 3rd period which basically came as a result of a Ranger diving after making contact with Gordo’ stick as he was trying to play the puck behind the net.  The refs did a good job last night although they ignored a penalty committed on Johansson in the double OT which should have been called.  But then on the other hand, they did not call Backstrom for boarding also in the double OT which probably would have been called during regulation.

Meanwhile, Neuvy made some huge stops after the score became 3-0 to prevent the Rangers from icing the game.  He also made a huge stop on a Gaborik one-timer in the 2nd OT when the Rangers were on the PP after our too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.   It’s hard to evaluate a game like this because the Caps were so bad in the 2nd period and the Rangers were clearly not playing with the same hutspa in the 3rd period although the probably came out over-confident thinking they had the game wrapped up.  But then again, they were 29-0 up to that point when leading after the 2nd period, so they obviously know how to ice games.  But the game was so one-sided in the 2nd and 3rd periods and so uneventfully even in the 1st period with each team getting a couple chances in the early going, that it’s really hard to make global judgments about the quality of play.

What we can think and talk about is what is to come next.  The Caps find themselves up 3-1 again against an 8th seed with game 5 to be played on our home ice.  Everyone knows how this story ended last year as do the Caps.  What’s a little different is that after having a tough, very even 2 games against Montreal to start off the series, we really blew them out in Montreal in games 3 & 4 and only the most paranoid and neurotic D.C. sports fans like myself were at all worried that we could still lose the series.  But lose we did and maybe after game 4, the Caps were a bit overconfident having beaten the Canadiens in 3 consecutive games.  In this series, nothing has been easy.  Every game has been a 1-goal affair aside from Game 2 where we really outplayed the Rangers for only about 6 minutes in the 2nd period, scored 2 goals and called it a night.  So the Caps have to know that the Rangers are not going to stop fighting like crazy and that if we take the foot off the gas, this series could take another dramatic turn on Saturday afternoon.

It would be hard to imagine that the Caps would fall into that trap.  One thing last night worried me though:  Karl Alzner, while being interviewed after the game, described the Caps double OT victory last night as a “knife in the back” of the Rangers.  That sounds like Alzner thinks the Rangers are dead and dead they are not.  Now, if we come out on Saturday and finish the 1st period up 2-0, then maybe that will be the death knoll for the blue shirts.  But as of yet, while the jubilation most everyone here in D.C. feels today is palpable and it sure as hell better to be ahead 3-1 then even at 2-2, there is still one more game to win.  Please let that win come Saturday.

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Haunted by our past

If the Caps were the Red Wings, Canadiens, Blackhawks or, (gulp!) dare I admit the Penguins, it would be no big wup losing game 3 against the Rangers on a fluky goal after having built a 2-0 lead at home in somewhat dominating fashion.  But the Caps are not these teams.  We have not won shit in our history.   In fact, our last two series playoff losses have come when we have had a 2 game advantage.  (We wer up 2-0 on the Pens in 2009 and were up 3-1 on Montreal last year).  So, I’m worried.  I’m not worried because the Rangers are better than us or that they have carried the flow of the play recently.  I’m worried because the Caps have seen fluky goals change their series in the past.  Does anyone remember how when we lost game 3 in Pittsburgh in OT, how after having fought off 7 Penguin power plays, Ovie had a good look at net from distance and hit the cross-bar on a shot that if it had gone in would have given us a 3-0 series lead and who knows what would have happened to us that year?  Instead the shot hit off the crossbar and and Chris LeTang rang a shot off the cross-bar in OT which went in and the rest is history.

Yesterday’s goal by Dubinsky was fluky indeed, but truthfully the Caps did not play well.  I know some of the penalties called against us were ticky-tack, but we were playing too much with our sticks and not enough with our skates.    The only part that sucks about the penalties is that the refs did not have such little tolerance for the Rangers constantly checking Neuvy and knocking him all over the crease.  It would have been nice if they called it evenly.  But honestly, no one watching that game could say that the Caps played with the same intensity as the Rangers.  We may have wanted to win as bad as them, but it didn’t show.

Because of all the penalties, our 4th line did not have a chance to establish any kind of tempo and our 3rd line was fairly invisible the whole game.  Frankly, there really was no flow to the game from a Caps perspective.  All that being said, we still have a chance to take the game to OT and maybe win.  The Caps showed a lot of fight and showed that we are not going to be bullied by the blue shirts.

Marco Sturm has not given much this series.  He’s smart, tough and is good on the PK, but he has been pretty quiet.  I wonder whether Boudreau might go to Fehr, maybe on the 2nd line to give some balance to the Arnott line because Fehr just doesn’t have the forechecking in him at this point in his career to be anything other than a top 6 forward.  Fehr has had a bad season for the most part, but he does have a knack for playing big in the big games – last year in the Montreal series and this year in the winter classic.    All I know is that I don’t like having so many days to think about the last game.  But truthfully, the time-off will probably take a little steam out of the Rangers and will help the Caps re-focus.  And if my opinion, re-focusing for the Caps has to mean that we stop worrying about how hard the Rangers are going to come out.  Ever since Semin’s rocket beat Lunqvist in OT, all I have been hearing out of the Caps is how the we have to prepare for the Rangers throwing everything at us including the kitchen sink.  That’s how we end up getting out-shot in games 2 and 3.  That is not how we should approach this game.  We have to be the aggressors.  We are the better team after all.  Let’s play like it damn it.

This is not last year’s Caps, nor the Caps of 2 years ago, nor the Caps or 15 or 20 years ago, but for all of us, who have been fans of the Caps last year, 2 years ago, 15 years, 20 years ago and more, every Caps team will feel the same until something really good happens.  Let’s hope, something really good happens Wednesday night.

Double vision:  I would be remiss if I did not mention the  Nats who I have been keeping an eye on during this intense hockey weekend.

Pudge is pumped after his 3-run homer put away game 1 of their doubleheader sweep of Milwaukee yesterday at Nationals Park.

The Nats once again got excellent pitching and surprisingly enough got a lot of big, power hitting.  As many, including me predicted, Espinosa has taken the lead-off spot for the Nats and so far, it’s working out extremely well.   Espinosa had the big hits in each of the Nats’ 2 wins yesterday, including a 3-run homer in game 1 and a 3-run bases clearing triple in game 2.  The change has also helped Desmond who despite the fact that he is hitting at the bottom of the order, hit very well over the weekend.  By my count, going into today’s games, only 10 teams in MLB had winning records and we are one of them.  It’s way too early to say anything more than it’s nice to be playing well early in the season instead of playing badly.

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Something new

A Red Riot:  Caps and the sea of red behind them celebrate Chimera's goal early in the 2nd period which ultimately proved to be the game 2 winner.Last night’s game was a lot easier to watch than Game 1.  No super-intense, gut-wrenching drama.  Just enough to not let anyone leave their seat, and not let enough breathe a sigh of relief until that really long stoppage in play with 4.8 seconds left in the game which oddly enough became 5.0 seconds.  Of course, if Ovie had been able to convert on his breakaway in the 3rd, everyone could have gone into chill mode with a little less than 10 minutes left in the game.

The obvious theme of last night was obviously defense.  While Neuvy is receiving lots of accolades and deservedly so, the defense in front of him made things a lot easier.   The Rangers had very few big-time scoring chances even in the 1st and 3rd period where they controlled the play for large chunks.  Perhaps the best save of the night was made by Erskine who batted away a flying puck that was jetting to an open net after Neuvy had fallen out of position on a 3rd period scramble

I have to admit that I was very close to writing after Game 1 that Gabby should consider sitting Chimera after I thought was a poor performance on his part in Game 1.  But I didn’t write it simply because I thought it would make sense to give our complete lineup another game especially after  a win.  His one-timer last night dispelled all those thoughts however and was set up by a great hustle play by Brooks Laich who sacrificed his body to sling a puck to Johannsson who made a beautifully deft pass to the open slot where Chimera was camped out in perfect position.

Speaking of perfect position, Arnott was again in the right place at the right time last night as he deposited the 2nd goal, this time on a PP.  While it was lucky that the bounce came his way, Arnott was doing the right thing which was skating towards the net while Green was shooting from the opposite side.  Arnott was the uncovered man on the PP and he took advantage.

Last night, Erskine was excellent, flying around the ice, checking everybody in sight and playing good positional defense.  I also loved the ever-so-slight shit-eating grin he gave Avery as the latter tried to egg Big Red, (that’s my new nickname for Erskine) into a fight at the end of the game.  Erskine’s partner Mike Green had a solid game. He picked his spots to enter the rush well and seemed to always be in the right position.

Laich, Ovie, Alzner and Arnott were punishing Rangers all night long and our 4th line did a great job of applying consistent pressure.  Our centers, no matter who it was, were always in the right position in the defensive end and more often than not, any deflected puck or a pass around the boards was scooped up by one of our forward who were really helping out the defensemen all night long.

Yes it’s true we were a little too hemmed in for the 1st 10 minutes of the 3rd period, but after a little bit of time and a great PK, the Rangers lost steam and the last 5 minutes of the game were played without incident.  A great playoff win and the kind, combined with the Game 1 victory, we haven’t seen in these parts that much.  This is the 1st time in the Boudreau era where after two games in a playoff series, the Caps clearly look like the better team.  Let’s see if that continues as the series shifts to NYC.

Game 3 will represent the Rangers last stand and their energy at home, in a must-win situation will be off the hook, so to speak.  If we can contain the initial 10 minutes flurry and finish the 1st period 0-0, I think we will be in good shape.

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A sigh of relief

Semin in ecstasy after he rifles the game-winner in OT to propel the Caps to a 1-0 series lead over the Rangers.

What a 1st game! My wife doesn’t really like to watch hockey because it’s too intense and too much changes in an instant.  In truth, that’s how she feels about regular season hockey.  Rather than watch with me on tape delay after I put my children to bed, she scans yahoo and watches the scores update so she can who wins before I do.  She sits there and watches me go through agony while she silently awaits the moment where I have caught up with reality and time and hockey once again coincide.  Like I said, that’s how she feels about regular season hockey.  Playoff hockey is infinitely more excruciating for her since it is infinitely more excruciating and important to me.  So once again last night, she logged on to yahoo and sat back knowing for a while that the game had done to OT.  However, since I skip through all ads and intermissions, I caught up with real-time and we watched the OT together.  As hard as it was for me, it was in some ways even worse for her since she could not rely on her omniscient laptop  to give her the foresight to know how her beloved husband would be feeling at the end of the night.  So when Semin zipped his one-timer past Lundqvist with less than 2 minutes left in OT, she jumped out of her seat like I did and actually jumped in my arms like a QB who has just thrown a long-bomb for a TD jumps into the arms of an offensive lineman.  It was quite a moment of marital bliss.

I have to admit that like most Caps fans, when Backstrom did not score on his breakaway at the end of the 2nd period and then the Rangers scored about halfway through the 3rd, I found myself thinking, “here we go again”.  To be honest, I started thinking that after the two shots rung of the crossbar about midway through the 1st period.  It’s only 1 game and we’re only ahead 1-0, but after what happened to us last year and two years ago against the Rangers, for some reason 1-0 feels like a lot more.

When games like this get so attention and are so widely viewed, I feel at a loss for words at what I should say.  There are a few things that come to mind though.  1st and foremost, Semin scoring the game-winner and being an integral part of Ovie’s goal is a very good sign for the Caps.  We all know that he is a streaky player whose lack of confidence can sometimes be his undoing.  And with such a beautiful, dramatic game-winner in OT now under his belt, we have to hope that he can continue to take advantage of being on the line with Arnie, who is kinda like the 2nd coming here in D.C. these days.

While people have been singing his praises, Arnie is deserving of every kind word passed in his direction.  He continues to make one big play after another and last night, his keep-in of Staal’s attempted clearing couple with a deft pass to Semin, was nothing short of fantastic.  I will say though that I did not think Arnie’s line was able to get the spacing they usually are able to create on the forecheck and that if the Caps want to win this series that a more consistent forecheck will continue to be necessary.  I feel like we had one last night for the 1st 30 minutes and then lost it for about 20 minutes until midway through the 3rd period when the Rangers scored.

Neuvy was excellent last night and the difference in us winning and losing came from some spectacular saves he made late in the 3rd period and early in OT.  Of course, the game may not have been close if not from some spectacular saves from Lundqvist.  So in my mind, the goal-tending was a push.

The Caps got some excellent work from Gordon, Laich and Backstrom on face-offs, but most of our wins came in the defensive end.  While in some ways, winning those in our end are more important than those in the offensive end, I feel like we may be able to generate some more offensive chances with better face-0ff success when we’re staring down Lundqvist.

As everyone has already said, Ovie was all over the ice last night as was Johannsson.  Marco Sturm was a little invisible as was Matt Bradley, but sometime these “heart and soul” kind of guys just do their job and keep it moving.  Obviously to win any series, we’re going to have to get some offensive production from our other lines, but for one night, our top dogs carried the day.

I thought Mike Green played very well for having been away from the game as long as he was.  Sure, he was on the ice when the Rangers scored and was part of the defensive confusion which led to the wide-open one-timer, but he also assisted on Ovie’s goal and I thought made good decisions the whole night.  Having him return while Wideman is still out is huge for us.

While being ahead 1-0 is always better than being behind by the same score, winning tomorrow night is imperative in order to really put the Rangers on their heels.   The Caps fans were loud and proud last night and I expect nothing less tomorrow.

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