Capitals-Islanders Recap

For the first 20-some minutes of this game, it looked like a repeat of yesterday’s beatdown to the Rangers. Caps were outshot 14-5 in the first period, had an unsuccessful powerplay and were grossly outplayed by the Islanders. They only trailed 1-0 at the end of the period thanks to the efforts of Michal Neuvirth and a few missed opportunities for the Isles. That continued for about half of the second period until Bruce Boudreau called a timeout to either fire up the team or calm them down. Whatever he said it worked.  After that, and a Brooks Laich tally, the Caps looked a lot better and eventually mounted a comeback. In the larger scale of things, this isn’t a critical win but I’ll take a victory on the road after getting blown out the previous night. Especially since we had a lot of action off the ice today.

Observations/Notes

– 10 blocked shots for the pairing of Jeff Schultz and Scott Hannan and they weren’t on ice for either of the Islanders goals. Hannan also led the team in ice time with 24:37. He’s definitely come along nicely in the last couple of months and looks more like the solid, stay-at-home d-men we traded for. Him and Schultz have been a solid defensive pairing for the past couple of weeks, too which is what we have needed for awhile.

– Conversely, John Carlson and Karl Alzner have been continuing to make rookie mistakes. There was Alzner continuing to skate back into Neuvirth and screening him while not even challenging Kyle Okposo at all which allowed him to score an easy goal. Then there was Carlson’s turnover which led to Travis Hamonic’s goal which probably should have been stopped.

– More teams are figuring out that the Isles are no longer a team they can walk all over like they’re used to doing. This team is loaded with great, young goal scorers. Michael Grabner was close to having two goals tonight. Both of which didn’t happen due to unlucky bounces. Frans Nielsen’s line was the most effective tonight. On ice for both goals and played well territorially.

– When I saw the line combinations for tonight my first thought was “you’ve got to be kidding me.” Splitting up Ovechkin and Backstrom usually doesn’t work and that proved to be the case tonight. Marcus Johansson seemed to constantly turn the puck over when he was playing with Ovie and Knuble which is probably why Boudreau changed things up and went back to putting Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom on a line. That also led to a goal. Let’s keep things that way, Bruce.

– Brooks Laich definitely redeemed himself after a brutal start to the game. Washington’s first goal came from him charging the net and then drilling one through Montoya’s five-hole. Second one came from him doing the same thing only Knuble banged in the rebound.

– Neuvirth played well on his third consecutive start. 29 saves on 31 shots tonight and was the reason Washington stayed in the game early on. Great rebound after last night’s debacle.

– I’ve made a few jokes saying that we should start declining powerplays. We had a powerplay in the 3rd period which was negated 3 seconds in. Be careful what you wish for?

– Alexander Semin can be incredibly frustrating at times and there’s so many games where he looks like he’s mailing it in. Then we see that he is still a huge impact player and lethal goal scorer. All that does is make it worse, really.

A nice win and we’ll see what happens once Marco Sturm is thrown in the lineup on Tuesday. Maybe with a couple other new team members as well? I have a feeling that McPhee has a move coming sooner or later since Perreault was sent back to the AHL.

Three Stars

1. Brooks Laich

2. Michal Neuvirth

3. Kyle Okposo

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