Caps-Flyers recap

When the Caps took a 3-0 lead over the Flyers in the second period, you had to think that it wouldn’t last. The Flyers had been dominating Washington in terms of generating chances but were trailing due to bad goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky and Michal Neuvirth having to make a few big saves. Things were eventually going to go in the Flyers favor if they kept hammering the Caps like were, and they did. Caps were pinned in their own zone for a good part of the second and third period, which resulted in the Flyers getting back into the game and eventually taking a 4-3 lead. Some people were shocked and others saw it coming from a mile away. Thankfully for Washington, Marcus Johansson connected on a great pass from Mike Knuble to tie the game and the Caps were able to close things out in a shootout.

Call me crazy, but I think the Flyers-Caps games this season have been more exciting than Pens-Caps games. Lots of comebacks, lead changes, great pace to every game and each game needed OT or a shootout to determine the winner. That’s not always a good thing in moral standards seeing how this game really should have ended in a tie and neither team deserved an extra point for winning a skills competition but it is what it is. Caps have games in Ottawa and Montreal left on this road trip.

Notes/Observations:

– Let’s get this out of the way first; Bobrovsky was awful. That Nicklas Backstrom goal shouldn’t have gone in. Neither should have Dennis Wideman’s and you could make a case for Knuble’s goal needing to be stopped, too. Definitely put the Flyers in a hole early and they were able to come back from it but they may have not even needed to if he played better.

– I’d say our best line tonight was Chimera-Johansson-Knuble seeing how they produced the most points and were arguably the best territorially. Knuble was definitely the most effective as he had a 3 point night with an ugly goal and a beauty of an assist on Johansson’s marker. It does help when you have more offensive draws than any other line, though.

– Whenever Alex Ovechkin is hurt, it’s a chance for Alexander Semin to step up in his place and he usually does that or completely fails and tonight was the latter. Claude Giroux roughed him up the entire game and he started the contest off by committing a brutal double minor penalty. However, he also scored the shootout winner so I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset.

– The defense was a mixed bag. I thought John Carlson played pretty well (6 blocked shots, 27 minutes of ice time) while his partner, Karl Alzner kind of struggled and Carlson picked up the slack. That two-on-one at the beginning of the game that he shut down was a key example. Dennis Wideman scored his first goal as a Cap, did well on the powerplay and played solid early. However, the Flyers first goal went off his skate, he had three giveaways and made a couple of rough turnovers. Speaking of turnovers, Jeff Schultz’s pass to Andreas Nodl was absolutely brutal but I thought Schultz did well on the penalty kill. Like I said, a mixed bag.

– Michal Neuvirth was good at times tonight in stopping 29/33 shots. He did a good job of hanging in there late in the game to get the win and the defense on at least three of the goals was awful so I can’t fully blame him. Needless to say, the goaltending job for the playoffs is still his for now but let’s see how Varlamov does later in the week.

– Nodl-Giroux-Carter destroyed us tonight and they were the Flyers best line. They forechecked very hard and generated the most chances for the Flyers from what I noticed. Oddly enough, their weakest line was VanRiemsdyk-Richards-Versteeg. Only line with a negative corsi or Fenwick rating. That’s not counting Carcillo-Betts-Powe, seeing how they skated for less than 10 minutes a piece.

– Andrej Mezsaros was a real workhorse for the Flyers tonight. Skated almost 30 minutes, led the team in hits, shots and was a key reason the Flyers kept maintaining pressure. Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn also played a decent game but the former made a bad change on Backstrom’s goal and both lost Johansson on his goal.

– Matty Hendricks = secret weapon. His shootout goal was absolutely filthy.

– Who needs David Steckel when we have Boyd Gordon? He’s been excellent on the penalty kill since the deadline and continued to be tonight. He’s not as good as Stecks is at face-offs but he’s still very good in that area. Oh, and he doesn’t cost $1.1 mil a year.

Again, the Caps probably didn’t deserve to win this game but at the end of the day, we’re going back to the playoffs. Let’s just hope we see better efforts in the 2nd and 3rd periods in April. The lack of Ovechkin and Arnott definitely played a factor a little.

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