Friday, October 9, 2009

From the Press Box: Caps Host Rangers

For HM's first foray into the Press Box this season, it's deja vu from where we left off first round playoffs last season. Except Jose Theodore is minding the net, Sean Avery is off nursing a dinged up knee and Donald Brashear is wearing is wearing a blue jersey. The home crowd cheered loudly when Avery's name was announced as a scratch - that guy gets the love in every arena he walks into, I tell ya.

In case you missed it, the new them for this year is "Unleash the Red." The first five minutes saw Theo standing on his head to deny both Vaclav Prospal and Marian Gaborik at the doorstep. The Rags' Brandon Dubinsky took the game's first penalty after he hooked Nick Backstrom. The Blueshirts had luck on the PK with plenty of help from Henrik Lundqvist (he of the dreamy blue eyes, sorry just sayin'). Matt Bradley took the second penalty shortly thereafter with a high stick. Not to worry, the boys killed it off an proceeded to light the lamp with a another beauty from Alex Semin. Assisted by Brian Pothier, Semin netted his fifth of the season!

Brooks Laich was well on his way to a short-handed breakaway attempt when he was the victim of a Ales Kotalik hold (this after the Caps took another hooking call courtesy of Jeff Schultz - now boys, didn't we cover that already?). With close to five minutes left in the first, the Rangers took a too many men penalty. Ovie had a humdinger of a check on Brandon Dubinsky in waning minutes of the frst period and Theo made another lovely save on sniper Gaborik. The Caps' d-men seemed to get the memo, at least in the first period, and kept Gaborik in check. End of the first: Caps 1 - Rangers 0

The Rangers' penalty troubles continued in the second period as Michal Rozsival went off, followed by Chris Drury for high-sticking. Unfortunately, Mike Green took a tripping call of his own seconds later. Despite being on a 4-on-3, Ryan Callahan was able to evade Brendan Morrison and went five-hole for an unassisted Rangers goal. And what seemed like mere seconds later, the Blueshirts took the lead after some fancy passing in front of the net resulting in an Ales Kotalik goal. Late in the period, the Ranger's rising star rookie Matt Gilroy had a nice attempt, but Theodore was able to keep their lead to a lone goal. The Caps got yet another power play opportunity, thanks to interference on the part of Christopher Higgins. The Caps followed with a too many men call of their own (silly, silly penalty) and both teams went 4-on-4 for a spell. End of the second: Rangers 2 - Caps 1

Third period - started out with a swift glove save from Theodore on Chris Drury. At 16:43, our own Nick Backstrom showed he can do more than assist as he netted an absolutely beautiful goal from center ice no less! Tyler Sloan helped give Nick his first goal on the season and tie the game at 2-2.

And what a night for Nick Backstrom as he scored his second on the season on a power play goal after Aaron Voros went off on a holding call. This game was starting to go back and forth like the fun we had with the Flyers on Tuesday, as Marian Gaborik scored another for the Rags, less than a minute after the Backstrom goal.

And Gaborik struck again, less than two-minutes later, on another five-hole. And at that, disregard my earlier comments on the
great job of the defense in covering that shifty guy. With 5:06 left in the game, Donald Brashear went to his second home in the sin bin after tripping former team mate Mike Green.

But ultimately, tonight on the Caps got outworked and they fell short with a final score of 4-3 and their first loss at home. The power play was dismal and to state the obvious, we still have some holes in the defense.

To say that Gabby wasn't a happy camper in the post-game press conference would be a major understatement. He called out the defense, who left Theo out to dry on one too many occasions, and emphasized the fact that these are not rookies (Jeff Schultz being one of the youngest with four years in the NHL) and the errors are unacceptable. He also mentioned that he reiterated to the boys "Individual play gains individual results." 1-for-9 on the power play and not converting on 5-on-3s is just not going to cut the mustard either for that matter. HM is thinking there might be a bag skate on this morning's schedule after seeing Boudreau's reaction post-game.

The Caps travel to Hockeytown tomorrow night to take on the storied Red Wings, who'll be looking to make up for their recent slow start against the St. Louis Blues. In the meantime, I leave you with some supposed shenanigans from one of HM's least faves Ronald McDonald (oops, I meant the Flyers' Scott Hartnell). Very nice....

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