23 April, 2014


A Statement Win?

Remember when third periods late in the Boudreau era were hold-on-for-dear-life and cover-your-eyes stanzas? Suddenly, under Coach Hunter, they are statement frames for the Caps. Production, derived from patience, slow but steady absorption of a radically new system, and increasing confidence, appears to arriving.

A few quick thoughts:

  • Is the Beast back? In a modest 18 minutes of ice time last night the Gr8 pumped 7 shots on the Senators’ cage, and they were all of the quality variety. It was vintage Ovi. Since the coaching change he has certainly been more an impactful performer, but last night he seemed to put it all together at last, and that dazzling, game-changing tally — and I think it belongs among his 10 best tallies ever as a Cap — may represent his personal crossing of the rubicon this season.
  • Can someone please get Brooks Laich a stick that actually stays in one piece on the penalty kill?
  • Props to Dale Hunter for trying out that Halpern/Johannson/Brouwer combination. That was, to my knowledge, one of the few combinations we hadn’t seen yet in Washington, but it was a nice mix of veteran experience and younger spark.
  • Karl Alzner’s paycheck should get a bonus; there was one moment (I think it was on the penalty kill) where he threw his body on the right half of the goal line because Vokoun left it exposed while there was significant traffic and a battle for the puck going on in front of the net.
  • More thoughts Ovi: I haven’t seen him play quite like that since before John Wall joined the Wizards. He’s actually getting to the net again on occasion when he charges into the offensive zone by himself, from out wide, where he generates lethal speed on a bull-rush, and his goal was a beautiful mix of skill, will, cunning, and flair. Ovechkin flair — which of course is unlike anyone else’s in hockey. He’ll probably be a stronger player for going through this protracted slump.
  • 44 shots on goal. Not bad. A power play goal. Not bad. Still lots of work to do on the PK (bad). Allowing Ottawa to score on the power play to make it 4-3 late, needlessly injecting drama into the evening, falls (again) at the stick of the undisciplined and unpredictable Alexander Semin, but a crazy shot from John Carlson in his own zone that hit an empty net was a pretty fun way to get insurance.
  • On Semin: Just as we may have witnessed Alexander Ovechkin chart a positive and productive new course with last night’s effort, I’m left wondering just how much more the new coach has to see of Ovechkin’s countryman before an ultimate verdict is rendered. At 4-2 deep in the third on the road, the game needs to go in lockdown, and that’s not a task you look to #28 to carry out.
  • It’s actually difficult for me to pick a favorite goal in this game: the beauty by Ovechkin, the gorgeous pass by Laich to Backstrom as they came flying towards the net and the successful shot by Nick, and a somewhat similar goal off a pass from Johannson to Brouwer.

Perhaps a statement win for Dale Hunter. A relief win for the fanbase. Most importantly, perhaps: a night we’ll look back on and say, “That’s when Ovi got his groove back.”

 



8 Comments

  1. jack wrote:

    Yes! Alzner laying down in front of the net was awesome! I cheered when that happened.

    8 December, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  2. Charles wrote:

    Good to see Ovi getting his groove back. Hunter is definitely getting them back to offensive play as opposed to Boudreau’s hold em back defensive style. Hey if you get a chance, take a look at HockeyPad for iPad. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hockeypad/id480173826?mt=8 Everything you need in a Hockey Drills / Practice app.

    8 December, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink
  3. Victor wrote:

    It was only one game, but I’m hoping the Halpern/Johannson/Brouwer line becomes the next Halpern/Konowalchuk/Dahlen line.

    8 December, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  4. Hale wrote:

    I don’t quite get your comments about Semin. What about undisciplined Ward’s lockdown mode? He had 2 penalties, one after Semin’s. This was the 3rd game Semin’s played under Hunter. Although he didn’t score in the first 2 either, he took no penalties (do you even note or recall that?), played well, and Hunter seemed pretty pleased with him. So, one game where he started off very strong, but since he no longer kills penalties (but should) and there were 5 besides the one he took late, he wasn’t out there as much. Well, neither was Ovi in the last few minutes due to Ward’s penalty, too. By the way, have you noted the player with the second highest number of minor penalties is undisciplined Backstrom? Even when Semin is scoring lots of goals, if he were in that position, you all would be all over him. Remember, one game does not make a trend nor a pattern — not for Ovi, not for Semin, either, especially when his first two games were fine.

    8 December, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  5. Christopher wrote:

    “Remember when third periods late in the Boudreau era were hold-on-for-dear-life and cover-your-eyes stanzas? Suddenly, under Coach Hunter, they are statement frames for the Caps. Production, derived from patience, slow but steady absorption of a radically new system, and increasing confidence, appears to arriving.”

    Ridiculous statement. The Hunter era is 5 games old. I’m rooting for him as much as the next guy, but can we all please quit pretending that Bruce was a horrible coach who inflicted the Caps with some kind of disease? This site would have about a quarter of the web hits if it wasn’t for Bruce. Give me a break.

    8 December, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
  6. kelly chuba wrote:

    Ward’s penalty was a bad call

    9 December, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink
  7. @ Christopher, not ridiculous at all — that’s what things had become during the waning games of Bruce’s tenure. Again, Bruce is a good coach, one who yanked the flailing Caps into the playoffs in 2008 and made them a better team, things we’ve said many times.

    But BB had lost the team. Nobody’s saying Hunter is a *better* coach after just 5 games, but the team seems to be *responding to him* better than they had to BB in the last months of his tenure. And it’s hard not to be excited about the players’ energetic attitudes.

    9 December, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  8. Ridiculous article wrote:

    Statement win? A haha. U r so clearly trying to justify ur bb hate. Bb turned this franchise n the right direction and when things got tough u (the press) hung him out to dry for headlines. Hunter has beatin the sens twice, big deal. That hardly shows me something. On frozen blog equals judas. Complete Pu**** that couldn’t handle the heat n the kitchen. Don’t realize it’s hard to win a cup. And don’t want to stick with the team thru thck& thin.

    14 December, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink