Panthers-Capitals recap

Tonight’s game was a little comforting and discouraging for the Washington Capitals. They handily beat a weak Florida Panthers team but they were outplayed for about 30 minutes tonight. Then again, this was without Scott Hannan, Alex Semin, Jason Arnott among many others so it’s good to see the team play well without key players. They were outplayed for almost the entire first period but were winning 2-0 due to two very good powerplays and strong goaltending from Semyon Varlamov who turned aside 18 shots in that period alone. They also surrendered two goals in the third period which probably shouldn’t have happened. So, in the end, there’s a lot to be happy about and some to be concerned about. Caps won 5-2 in their last home game, the powerplay was good, goaltending was even better but we were outplayed and Boudreau still has a tough decision on who gets the start in net for game 1. More on that later. For now, let’s review some notes from this game.

Notes/Observations:

– How about that powerplay? 2/4 tonight and they scored on their first two attempts with the help of some great puck movement and passing. Brooks Laich is starting to look a lot more comfortable playing on the point and he almost had a goal off a huge slapshot but it rang off the post. He also did well up front on the second powerplay attempt and ended up with two assists on the night. It will be nice to rotate guys a little bit once Green comes back now that we we’re finding out what Laich can do at the point.

– Great night for Semyon Varlamov. Stopped 31 of 33 shots thrown his way and had a shutout going until about 5 minutes left in the game. He was fantastic in the first period and the only reason the Caps were winning at the end of 20 minutes. Does he get the start in the next Florida game or will Neuvirth get a chance to out-perform him? We shall see.

– Corsi and Fenwick numbers say that Jeff Schultz and Sean Collins were the best defensive pairing tonight for the Caps and I suppose that’s believable. Schultz had a pretty good night with two blocked shots and an assist and Collins scored his 2nd NHL goal on a nice wrist shot. It helped that Ovechkin set him up perfectly and David Booth made an ill-advised turnover, though. These two were on ice for both Florida goals but I thought Collins played well given his expectations.

– Speaking of David Booth, he had one goal tonight and made mistakes that led to two of Washington goals. Guess I’ll take that!

– Jason Chimera’s definitely battling for ice time in the playoffs but it’s looking more and more like he will be starting in game 1 very soon. He scored another goal tonight (granted, Backstrom did most of the work) and has made an impact every time he steps on the ice. Whether he’s contributing offensively or not.

– Like I said, we were outplayed tonight and the corsi numbers indicate as such. It’s a good thing that Florida doesn’t have much offensive talent outside of Booth, Santorelli and Wise (who wasn’t playing tonight) or it wouldn’t have been such an easy win. I don’t think we can win a lot of playoff games with the way we played in the first 20 minutes of this game (aside from the PP).

– Matt Hendricks could have had a hatty tonight because he had three golden chances and only one of them got through Clemmensen. All three were right next to the net, too. “Crash the net, score goals?”

– Alan May should join Joe B and Locker more often. Just a thought.

– Ryan Carter’s boarding penalty looked a lot worse than it did at slow motion. I thought it was a good hit by him and not necessarily dirty and Collins wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t like that Matt Hendricks got a 2 minute instigator for that, though but I hate the instigator rule, so yeah.

– Only three players with ice times over 20 minutes for the Caps tonight: Alzner, Backstrom and Carlson. Mostly due to a couple long PK shifts, I think.

Like I said, there’s still some concerns but the team’s winning and I’m really just counting down the days until playoff time (and watching opponents games to see who we’ll face in the first round). All of the questions we have will be answered very soon and I’m sure not everyone will be satisfied with the results but that’s the way it goes.

Three Stars:
1. Semyon Varlamov

2. Brooks Laich

3. Jason Chimera

 

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