I'm not going to go all negative and biting on this one folks. The national, local, and anyone on Twitter media will do a fine job of that, after this one. There was as much to be positive about as negative in this game, but in the end, a couple great plays by the new guy from the KHL ,Kuznetsov, a patented Ovechkin power play howitzer, and a couple of goals that Eddie Lack could have played a wee bit better were enough to sink the Canucks tonight.
I would nominate David Booth as the poster child for this game, and maybe this season. He had 3 shots, and missed 3 more. He was around the net all night. He was hard on the puck, and used his speed like he should. But, he made boneheaded passes, held the puck too long when he had a chance to shoot, and simply put, tried way too hard while thinking way too much. He deserved a goal for all his hard work. But, obviously, his own personal Puck God is obviously a gypsy crone who he wronged somehow. It is bizarre to consider. The guy is going to make some team very happy as a hard working 4th liner being paid 2 mil after his buyout this summer.
Give some credit to Jaroslav Halak on the night. The Canucks outshot the Capitals 41 - 21, and 17 - 3 in the final period, and he was the main reason the home team was not blown out. A lot of the chances he saved were right in the slot.
The Capitals, supposedly desperate for a win to keep their flagging playoff hopes alive, did not get a first shot until past the ten minute mark. Unfortunately, it was a Mike Green wrister top shelf that Eddie should have had with the glove, and it turned out to be the winning goal.. The first goal was one where the young 'tender could have played a bit differently too, ( Jason Garrison, when the goalie is not in the net, fishing for the stick is less important than just dropping your damn body down to get it in front of the puck laying there for Joel Ward. Just a thought ), but he could not be blamed on the Wilson goal. It was off a very nice fake shot to pass by Kuznetsov, and the 3rd goal was one that most any goalie in the NHL has trouble stopping. That Ovechkin shot from that spot is the reason the Caps have an NHL leading 57 power play goals this year.
( personal note ; I know we have Schneider and Luongo fans still here. I like both players, and am interested in how they play. But both of them and Martin Brodeur can **** right off with the "concern trolling" today. Eddie Lack is a rookie, and struggling a bit right now. He also had stats better than both those ex Canucks until the last 3 games, and is still a .915 save % right now ( Luongo is a .919 %, Schneider, behind the team that gives up the least shots in the NHL, is a .918 % ). So, thanks Schneids for the concern. I know you didn't want out of here. But Luongo did. For a while. )
OK, back to our currently scheduled programming. There were several players amongst the line up tonight that showed they DO want to be here, and be a part of the solution. The Canucks should be lauded for their not giving up tonight. Consider some numbers : The CF and FF % ( Corsi and Fenwick For Percentage ) were both mainly in the Canucks favour. In all situations, they were 60.2 to 39.8 CF, and 66.1 to 33.9 FF, or almost two to one. The only times the Caps were ahead in those numbers were in the most important times, 5 on 5 close ( 55.6 to 44.4 CF, and 59.0 to 41.0 FF ) and 5 on 5 tied ( 57.8 to 42.2 CF and 58.8 to 41.2 FF ). To put that another way, the Caps played well enough when they had to.
The new guys, and rookie types, for example ? How did they do ? Well :
- Nicklas Jensen showed flashes, had a goal, 5 shot attempts, with 4 forcing a save. He led his team with 3 takeaways ( the Canucks led that stat 8-6, while destroying the Caps in forcing giveaways, with a 16 to 7 edge ). He saw first unit power play time ( it looked as good as I have seen it this year, but could not cash in at all, going 0 for 3, including a late third period power play that looked great, and really should have cashed in ), and displayed his strength along the boards. Don't listen to the twitter whiners. Yeah, he made a couple mistakes. The guy is going to be a solid NHLer.
- Shawn Matthias was flying. He used his large frame well, ( though his suckage in the faceoff circle was pretty obvious, going 4 for 13, on a night where only Henrik Sedin was over 50%, going 10 for 17, and the Canucks overall got slaughtered, losing the stat 35 to 23 ) He had a team high 5 shots, a block, best amongst the forwards 3 hits, and played a well deserved 18:32 TOI.
- Jordan Schroeder. He was ( my mistake above, he was also above 50 %, at 6 for 11 on draws ) both good and bad. The good was a goal on a great Kassian set up, and a great shot by him. He ended up with 4 shots. He also deserved his only 13 :02 TOI, as it was only the stats guy being nice that gave him no giveaways, as he had a fairly bad time in his own end. To be fair, he was up against Tom Wilson a lot, and the size disparity was obvious there. But he will be up against guys like that every night in the NHL. He made some good plays, both defensively and offensively. But it was an uneven night on the results.
There were several guys without the best of nights that are not young either. Tom Sestito might have got a bit of a raw deal on his first call ( a scrum that he did nothing more than be big in, but went off with Beagle anyhow, when it should have been Beagle's idiocy that forced the even up on a Dalpe goalie interference call ), but he took a stupid one in his own end on Wilson that led to Ovie's goal, and was also partially to blame on Wilson's goal later on. There was a good reason why Torts sat him most of the 3rd, and a good reason why he only had 5:56 TOI.
The defensive pairings had their ups and downs, but the worst one was Garrison and Stanton on the night. Both were a -2, ( 1 hit for Garrison, 2 for Stanton ) and Garrison only had 1 shot, while Stanton only missed one. Contrast that with the -1 for each Bieksa and Edler, who combined for 7 shot attempts ( Juice had 2 and 1 miss, Eddy had 4 shots ) and Bieksa was the hammer for his pair, with a team leading 6 hits, contrasted with Edler's 0. The best pairing, by far, was Christopher Tanev and Dan Hamhuis. Both were a +3, and Hammer had 4 shots ( 1 miss ), while Tanev had 2 assists and 1 shot. Yep, there was a definitel reason why Garrison had 12:46 and Stanton 11:00 TOI, to compare to the approximately 23 minutes the other four averaged.
So, the guys will play hard the rest of the way. They might even tease us by getting a bit closer to the playoff line. But with Dallas having a 3 game edge, and only 3 more to play, it does not seem even mathematically feasible, even if the math says there is a miniscule chance.
A guy like Henrik Sedin ( +1 , 2 shots, 1 giveaway, 1 takeaway, and 21:42 TOI ), who was giving max effort all night, and playing like he has of old, making nice passes, setting up behind the net, and earning every second of the forward leading 21:42, won't let the effort sag. Alexandre Burrows ( 2 shots, 2 misses, and a post on the power play that would go in any other year but this one...as well as 2 hits to go with his 20:02 TOI ) won't tolerate it either.
But it is pretty obvious that everyone is playing for spots next year now. Let the public bloodletting commence ! ( I warn you all now. Stay away from TEAM for a while, and take most everything you read on Twitter with a grain of salt for the next couple days. The battle between rampant negativity, realists, comics, and gallows humour aficionados will be intense for a bit )
See you next Roberto...maybe @strombone1 will have a funny tweet to welcome the guys to Florida for the afternoon tilt next on the docket.