Caps-Blues post-game thoughts

Today’s game was sort of a reversal of what I predicted. Instead of us trying to solve Halak, the Blues were shut down by Semyon Varlamov for most of the game. 38 shots and only one of them got through. Another terrific performance from him and the Caps MVP for the game. Great play on the penalty kill and the Caps taking advantage of mistakes on the Blues end also contributed but in the end, it was Varly who made this a 4-1 game. Not taking any credit away from the rest of the team, since this was one of the most complete games Washington has played this year.

Thoughts and observations

– The Blues had an interesting approach to shutting down our top line. Every time Ovechkin, Backstrom and Knuble were on the ice, Jay McClement, Alex Steen and BJ Crombeen were there to take them on and were successful for awhile. They forchecked hard and kept the first line pinned in their own zone for awhile. However, these three are smart enough to take advantage of any chance the Blues give them and that showed when a turnover by Alex Steen resulted in a goal for Backstrom. A rebound from Halak helped that too.

– Not the best night for the officials as both teams got away with numerous high-sticks and there were moments where it looked like it was 6-on-6 out there. The Caps had 2 powerplays and converted on one of them, which was mostly due to a bad bounce in front of Halak.

– Sad to see that King/Janssen showdown didn’t happen since he was scratched by the Blues. Instead, Stefan Della-Rovere was activated for his first NHL game and it was pretty…plain.

– The Blues are without a doubt, one of the most well-prepared and hardworking teams in the league and when a team who doesn’t see them much like Washington plays them as well as they did tonight, it shows a lot about the coaching and preparation done by the Caps. They knew the Blues were not going to give them a lot of chances and that was the case for most of the night so when the Caps saw one mistake, they took advantage of it. Lucky bounces are nice too. Which is why Boyd Gordon has a goal.

– Good night for the penalty kill going 4/4 with some solid work by the entire defensive corps. It’s going to be interesting to see who gets scratched on certain nights with John Erskine playing some of the best hockey of his career right now. Tom Poti better watch out but he wasn’t bad at all tonight aside from a couple of bad clears.

Three Stars

1. Semyon Varlamov – So glad to have him back and playing to his full potential again. Another fantastic outing for him again.

2. Nicklas Backstrom – 2 goals, 1 assist and the one guy who could seem to get past the “shutdown line” from the Blues. Solid work on the penalty kill, too.

3. Brooks Laich – Opened up the scoring with his powerplay goal, which ended up being the game winner.

Great way to start off the road trip. Onward to Texas we go to take on the Dallas Stars tomorrow.

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