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Boudreau: Winning Division 'Not Our Goal'

What a weird night at Verizon Center.

Three Buffalo goals go in off of Washington players. The Caps blow three one-goal leads, but end up clinching the Southeast Division by reaching overtime. Then Sergei Fedorov makes an uncharacteristic turnover in extra time to lose the game.

Like I said, weird.

On to the notes:

Title No. 5
Despite the 5-4 loss, the Caps clinched their second straight division championship and the fifth division title in franchise history by reaching overtime. Afterward, the achievement was barely mentioned. This team, obviously, has bigger goals in mind.

Winning the division "is not our goal," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Before the season started, we said we were going to win and we have one goal in mind and we aren't there yet."

Costly Breakdown
Fedorov seemed to be in the middle of everything tonight. He scored two big goals, but he was in the penalty box for one Sabres tally. Then in overtime, it was his ill-advised cross-ice pass that was picked off by Tim Connolly, who fed Jason Pominville for the game-winner.

You can almost always count on Fedorov to make the safe play under pressure. Almost always, that is.

"We've got to get smarter to be able to play better," Boudreau said. "We had guys staying out late, a cross-ice pass in overtime with no defensemen on the ice. That's just not a smart play."

Unfortunate Bounces
Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov wasn't as sharp as he was in his previous three starts. But he was also very unlucky. Each of the Sabres' first three goals went off one of his teammates -- Milan Jurcina's skate, Viktor Kozlov's stick and Shaone Morrisonn's skate.

"They were tough goals," Boudreau said. "They were redirect goals. Only the last one, I thought, was there much he could have done about it."

Varlamov made 25 saves but fell to 3-0-1. The 20-year-old was also credited with four giveaways and his rebound control definitely needs work.

P.P. Surges, Five-on-Five Struggles
The Caps' power play went 3 for 7 and moved into first place in the NHL in effectiveness (25.6 percent), surpassing the Detroit Red Wings (25.4 percent). The Caps have never finished with the league's best power play. The unit is 9 for 21 (42.9 percent) in the past four games.

"We want to be No. 1 in everything, if we can," Boudreau said. "If our power play is going well, we dictate the way the game is played. Teams that might be physical don't want to play physical because they might take a penalty.

But ...

"We've got to score more five-on-five goals," he quickly added. "When one thing goes good, something else usually goes bad. The power play can't be good at the expense of the five-on-five."

The Sabres scored four goals five-on-five to the Caps' one.

Ovechkin Ties Ridley
Ovechkin's first-period goal was the 218th of his career and moved him into a tie with Mike Ridley for third all time on the Caps' goal-scoring list. He's had a hand in 15 of the Caps' last 25 goals.

Ovechkin also moved within four points of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for the league lead in points (108-104). Can Ovechkin catch him? He's got two more games against an Atlanta team he routinely feasts on.

Flash of Brilliance
No, Tomas Fleischmann did not have a goal taken away from him tonight. But he did record his first point since Feb. 28, a span of 14 games, with an outstanding individual effort. He dived to keep Jaroslav Spacek's clearing pass in the zone. The puck wound up on Fedorov's stick, and he rifled it past Ryan Miller, who was good (and also got away with shoving Ovechkin in the face when the two collided late in the third period.)

That about covers it for the night. I'll check in from KCI in the morning. The Caps are scheduled to hit the ice at 11:30.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 4, 2009; 12:03 AM ET
 
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Next: Fedorov Limps Off

Comments

Those sabres suckers are some ugly fans.

Posted by: uncatim | April 4, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

"The Caps power play went three four seven "

lol

Posted by: wingmancd | April 4, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

@uncatim

Yes, the Sabres fans were certainly obnoxious tonite, to say the very least. My office mate should be very happy. He normally roots for the Caps, except against the Sabres. He wanted the Caps to lose in overtime so the Caps could clinch their division.

Hey, can I call in sick Monday?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

I hope they win against Atlanta. I'm beginning to feel like a jinx. I had gotten a bunch of tickets to games and haven't seen a win since early Jan. (And, of course, I sold off my tickets for the Carolina game in mid March when they did win.)

I know I shouldn't believe in jinxes but can't help it.

Note, I plan to go to the Atlanta game.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Is Fedorov taking lessons from our younger guys?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

CapsFan75:
yes - i give you permission to call in sick. you can have tuesday morning and thursday off too.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 4, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

The OT goal was a good foot offside. I repeat,a good foot. And the linesman, who was standing three feet from it, didn't make the call. Disgraceful.

Posted by: billieb | April 4, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

i feel bad for varly. he did leave the net wide open a few times - but didn't deserve to have three re-directs off of his own guys. koz's was the worst though

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 4, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Tarik,

How about mentioning some of the flubbed calls by the officials? Offsides call on Semin that was clearly on the line, Boarding call on Flash for what was obviously a clean hit, Goaltender Interference on Ovie when he was clear control of the puck and was pushed in to Miller by the Buffalo defenseman, two goals by the Sabres on what were blatant offsides plays. The Caps made their share of mistakes, but the officials didn't help any

Posted by: fedup34 | April 4, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

what is the story with the wp its fear of irregular verbs? dived vs. dove is the example in this post, however, examples are all over the wp.

Posted by: am_jim | April 4, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

@fedup34 - Let's not forget the non-call for roughing on Miller when he punched Ovechkin in the HEAD after the Buffalo defenseman pushed him into Miller...!

Posted by: irockthered | April 4, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

@Tarik - Any idea why Kozlov was out for the last 10 minutes of regulation, plus overtime???

Posted by: irockthered | April 4, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

The Semin "offside" play was not an offside call. The puck was knocked down by a high stick and then Semin was the first payer to touch the puck, resulting in the whistle and face off outside the zone. Outside of the supposed offside call in OT, which happened at the other side of the rink from me, I'd say the officials did a surprisingly good job tonight.

Posted by: StikSav | April 4, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

on the ovie catching malkin: while the caps have atlanta twice, the pens have THE ISLANDERS and THE LIGHTNING. let those defenses blow your mind. or ovie's repeat art ross chances.

Posted by: hsk8er6 | April 4, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and the Ovechkin goaltender interference call was clearly warranted, OV was not pushed into the goaltender by a Sabre. To the contrary he pushed a Sabre into Miller and then followed up by running into Miller himself. Sorry, I've been very critical of the officials lately, but I'll call a spade a spade, tonight officiating was far from the problem.

Posted by: StikSav | April 4, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

@StikSav. You need to watch that play again. The first contact on the play is the defender on Ovechkin. That started the chain reaction.

I don't have a problem with Ovechkin getting a penalty there, but Miller should have gotten one as well. For the NHL's alledged concern about head injuries, to have goalies forearming forwards upside the head isn't exactly good for business.

But hey, it's only Ovechkin. The NHL doesn't care.

Meanwhile, having watched the overtime goal again on On the Fly, I'm not totally sure how it would have been offside. Not doubting anyone, I just didn't see it.

Posted by: writered21 | April 4, 2009 2:10 AM | Report abuse

"... but hey it's only Ovechkin..." You are right. The NHL does not care. Guess they won't care when their paychecks get smaller either.

Posted by: capsfan01 | April 4, 2009 4:53 AM | Report abuse

@writered21: the OT goal was totally offside. Look at the replay again and pause when the puck is still a yard outside the zone. There's Pominville several feet inside the blue line. The giveaway was bad, sure, but the play should have been called dead.

Posted by: Southwester | April 4, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

The Sabre guy pushed Ovie into Miller. We all know that Ovie is superhuman but he couldn't stop his momentum into Miller. And Miller should've ABSOLUTELY gotten a penalty for punching Ovie in the head. But the refs didn't cost us the game, it was the unlucky bounces and the defensive breakdowns, and intimately a bad pass by Feds, which many of you guys claim a Sabre was offside, but I haven't watched it twice so I'm not that sure. I'm just angry we weren't able to get the OT goal, VC would've went crazy, (I can't even remember the last time we scored in OT at home this year.)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Yep my first reaction was that the call on Ovie for goalie interference was 100% correct but when I watched the replay than I changed my mind. First Miller should get 2 mins for ROUGHING and second Ovie was hit by a D-Man (by the rules) but he cannot control his movement after a big hit and went into Miller. D-man had no choice if not for his hit than Ovie would have a clear shot on goal.
But overall good ref job last night and Caps were unlucky in 3 own goals + possible offside.

Posted by: Hazz | April 4, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

@Hazz - Also, was Ovechkin not on a breakaway? The defender who hit him and knocked him over was lucky that was a legal hit, or it would have been a penalty shot for the Great 8.

We had several unlucky bounces. Varlamov isn't quite NHL-ready, which isn't his fault, but it's true. Theodore could have stopped that overtime goal. While it's true our defense wasn't perfect, any time Bill McCreary is on the ice, we are GOING to get some weird calls.

Last night was no exception. They missed a bunch of calls both ways, but the tripping call on Aucoin was weak, and the call on Ovechkin, I have a question in to the NHL Officials' Association to find out if that was correctly called; my suspicion is NOT.

Posted by: irockthered | April 4, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe you guys are calling out the officials. The Caps got the lion's share of the calls in this game. The Caps just blew it.

Posted by: FancyDan | April 4, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

And - AND - the Devils had to go to overtime to beat Tampa Bay. What's up with that? JEEZ! Last night was just weird all around...

Posted by: irockthered | April 4, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't completely agree that Varly is not "NHL ready," he played a good game last night. The 4th goal he was caught out of position on, but that happens to every goalie. I'm not quite sure you assume Theo would've stopped that OT goal, I've seen plenty times Theo has been scored on exactly like how Jason Pominville scored on Varly last night. Varly was not as sharp as in his first three starts, but last night's game hasn't taken away any confidence I have in him. Hopefully he gets another start, and hopefully we don't score on him anymore, it was a bit unfair for him last night.

I also don't blame the refs, they did give us two 5-on-3s but i agree with irockthered, the calls were all pretty weird. Some calls didn't make much sense..

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

@Tarik - Any idea why Kozlov was out for the last 10 minutes of regulation, plus overtime???

I asked and would like to know this as well. I can't believe that it wasn't mentioned anywhere - not the Times, Post or on TV. If it were an injury I would have thought it would have been mentioned but perhaps it was something else.

Posted by: capsfantess | April 4, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Anybody who can't see that the OT goal was clearly offside either needs to get their eyes checked or doesn't know the offsides rule. Even my wife looked at the replay and knew immediately it was offsides. Maybe now the Slugs fans can stop whining about Brett Hull.

Posted by: billieb | April 4, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Tarik - any indication yet of likely dates for the first two playoff games?? thanks!

Posted by: DC20004 | April 4, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Karma win for Sabres.

Varm had 3 goals scored on him from deflections off of us, but had four open net chances that the bad guys should have put in. Everybody saw it and knew we got away with what should have easily been a goal against. Add in the 'goalie contact' (that wasn't) for the no-goal and even it up with the non-call offsides on the final play and.............Karma win for the other guys.

Overall, not a bad game. How many times did we do this to other contenders at the end of the season?

But it shows that our young netminder is not quite ready for the playoffs and we are fortunate to have BJ and JT likely ready to go.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I just went back and watched the overtime goal three times in super slow-mo. It was not offsides. Borderline, but not offsides. Feds' pass comes into the neutral zone while a Sabres player is still in our zone. The player comes back to the blue line and touches up about the same time the puck is going back into our zone.

Posted by: tess2201 | April 4, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

WhyGo: BB did say that everything eventually evened out. Yeah, the Sabres shanked about 3 empty nets, but they got all 3 back by deflections off of our sticks/skates. Another great point by you, the Sabres were really desperate, just like us last year where we had to win virtually all our games. That being said, I don't think the Sabres can do it and I hope they don't make the playoffs. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Fancy Dan,

If asking the refs to make the right call is calling them out then so be it. The OV goalie interference call was debatable. Did he initiate contact or make every effort to avoid Miller? OV tried to cut in at the last second and was met by the Sabre D-man thus sending him into Miller. Debatable goalie interference. What's not debatable is the blocker punch to OV's head and how the game winning goal wasn't offsides.

Posted by: meagle | April 4, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

No offense, Tess, but you're blind. That was 100% offsides. The puck is outside the zone, Pomminville's inside. The puck is knocked back into the zone and Pomminville hasn't even touched the blue line yet. Really, get some glasses.

Posted by: billieb | April 4, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Don't mess with Tess!

Posted by: uncatim | April 4, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

After watching the sabres fans in the streets last night, I think buffalo should be bulldozed into the lake & be replaced with a mental institution.

Posted by: uncatim | April 4, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Tim!
I stand by my assessment of the call: borderline.

Posted by: tess2201 | April 4, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

@uncatim,

I know what you mean about Sabres fans. They were carrying on like they won the Stanley Cup.

Why oh why are there so many daggone Sabres fans? (Maybe I need to get perspective -- Pens fans would be worse under similar circumstances.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Tarik- why have the attendance figures been omitted from all of the NHL box scores in the Post starting about a week ago?

Posted by: pdanziger | April 4, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Now, now. Have you been to Buffalo? Kinda makes me feel sorry for them.

And don't forget the decades-long curse of 2nd place.

Sort of explains the 'irrational exuberance, eh?

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

@tess2201

Was Koz benched for the goal that bounced off his skate?

Except, if every player on the Caps got benched for a stupid mistake, they wouldn't have anyone left to dress.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

interesting article on TSN on defense
have us ranked 4th in the east
http://tsn.ca/columnists/scott_cullen/?id=273658

Posted by: billd2 | April 4, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@billieb: you need to learn the rule for offsides. The puck is allowed to go into the zone. No Sabre touches the puck until the guy at the top of the screen has gotten back onside. The play was fine.

Posted by: FlyersSuck | April 4, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

It's only a 4-5 hour drive down, they probably have a good road crew. Also, over the years, lot's of 'em moved here.

They bark a bit, but are good hearted folks. Not like Philly (possibly dangerous or at least 'connected').

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75
Why was your Kozlov question directed at me?

Posted by: tess2201 | April 4, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Try walking around Boston or Philly with a bunch of Caps jerseys on while crowing about an OT win. Could end up missing or something.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Last home game (not 'final' home game, 'cause we got the PLAYOFFS!) on Sunday. Need to get OV past the Malkin to secure another MVP and more scoring trophies.

Two games against ATL. He has put up several multi-goal games against the Bluelanders.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Kudos on winning the division!

I'm a die-hard Buffalo fan who now lives in Baltimore. I've been through the good, the bad and the ugly with this team. I try to make it to at least one of the games when the Sabres are in town and was there last night with a group from the UB Alumni Association. Yes- the Sabres fans that were there were loud but we're passionate about our hockey at least we weren't louder than than the Caps fans. I won't deny that some fans were obnoxious but Caps fans around us were also dishing it right back. That's what makes good hockey.. It's still pretty easy to get tickets w/the Caps - hence why Sabres fans are there en masse and also because there are so many of us in the area.

Posted by: bluegold | April 4, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

pdanziger: Does not answer your query, but re: attendance from TSN :
The sellout crowd of 18,277 allowed the Capitals to break the franchise record for season attendance with one game left, reaching 723,715 to top the 710,990 of 2001-02.

WhyGo: I only saw one fight last night & the Caps fan was the guy spitting blood. Interestingly, though, the sabres fan was abandoned by his friends.

Posted by: uncatim | April 4, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

@tess,

I'm like you, wondering what happened to Kozlov.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

@bluegold

It won't be as easy to get tickets next year since the Caps have sold out most of their season ticket plans. The best option will be to buy individual tickets from season ticket holders.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 4, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

@Tarik - Any idea why Kozlov was out for the last 10 minutes of regulation, plus overtime???

I asked and would like to know this as well. I can't believe that it wasn't mentioned anywhere - not the Times, Post or on TV. If it were an injury I would have thought it would have been mentioned but perhaps it was something else.

Posted by: capsfantess | April 4, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Good luck getting an answer. These guys only report the obvious and/or sound bytes.

It seemed to me like BB was shortening the lines, I don't know if it was intentional or because of the number of penalties.

I was not impressed with the power play. Semin was stationery on the left side by the boards as a forgotten man while Green and OV practiced shots on goal, that with a two man advantage, the puck movement was so obvious the sabres almost didn't have to move, and I swear I heard Semin snore while backstrom chatted with some of the fans.

The Sabres have a fast team and at times some very well timed passes. Although some of their goals were helped by unlucky Caps' bounces, they had plenty of missed opportunity to bury the Caps with their quick passes - in that respect the Caps were lucky - I hope they realize that in the play-offs that would be a losing formula.

Posted by: opita1 | April 4, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Yikes! Popped in the kisser.

In my opinion, Sabres fans are not violent (en mass) and have a long history of hockey behind them. They consitantly provide some of the best youth hockey teams and lot's of players to D1 and D3 colleges.

The Sabres fans that moved away from the violent guy were not in the minority.

Except for that brief time with a-hole Brianna-air, I don't hate the Sabres all that much.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Sabres looked good to me. Fast, smart, good goalie. Not a bad team at all, just ton's of bad luck and way under-performing.

We were lucky to get a point in this wierd game.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

CapsFan75:

ok. you got the wrong Tess. Apparently there are two of us. I'm tess2201. The one who posted the question was capsfantess. Not sure if her name is tess or she's a just using fantess as a title like countess.

Posted by: tess2201 | April 4, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Not sure how Ovy got called for a penalty for running into Miller after the defenseman shoved him into him. Then Miller punches him in the face. Reminded me of last year's playoffs when Kozlov had a breakaway against Philly and was shoved from behind into Biron and they called a penalty on Kozlov. Mmmmmkay.

Posted by: blanknerc | April 4, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Maybe BB was paying the 3rd line back at the end at the expense of Koz. The 3rd line barely touched the ice and were way off the average, I think.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

long time caps fan here but I am not sure what you guys are talking about with the offsides in overtime. I just watched the replay and you don't need to slow it to see it is a completely legal play. it doesn't matter if the guy is in the zone when the puck enters as long as it isn't touched...he went back and touched up at the blue line before any sabre touched the puck and they were all onside. there was an initial delayed offside until he touched up. not sure where the confusion is.

Posted by: CapsSkins | April 4, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

as far as kozlov...i was at a bar watching and didn't have sound, but it looked to me there was a point where he came off the ice wincing and the camera focused on him for a minute. he might have hurt something.

Posted by: CapsSkins | April 4, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Right. Now I see it. The puck was out, but the players were all out of the zone in time to clear the touch-up offsides.

Pothier (or Green, somebody with a 2) should have covered PomPom, I guess they thought that Schultz (I think that was him) would prevent the pass). Not only Feds fault at all. Schultz should have backed off maybe and somebody should have covered PomPom.

Basic stuff that can cost you bgibig-time in the playoffs. One mental breakdown and it-is-over.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Caps sure played like winning the division was their goal last night. Just general sloppiness and a happiness to trade goals until overtime.

Posted by: CDon | April 4, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for the confusion guys... I am a different Tess as tess2201 stated. My name is Tess too. Go figure - not exactly a common name...

Anyways, I had just been wondering about the Kozlov situation. No one seemed to notice it and I brought it up with the group I was watching with last night. I had been paying particular attention to the Feds-Ovy-Kozy line. When Boudreau had put them together the game before and then started them together I was intrigued to see how well they clicked. I though it was going well! I can't see him getting benched at the end of the game. Some people on the message boards were saying he was probably benched for having a bad game but I don't necessarily agree with that. He had two assists and was screening the goal in the crease for Federov's slap shot goal. His unfortunate tip in of the other team's goal was just that - unfortunate. It's just weird that no one seemed to notice it... no blogs, papers or the TV analysts.

Posted by: capsfantess | April 4, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Joe B an Locker wouldn't pick it up about Kozlov, they've done that all year , don't even notice major line changes because of
injury or benching. they need a spotter just for that HA

Posted by: billd2 | April 4, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Feds "prompted" out announcer team that "did you not notice I was on defense for that play and therefore was NOT out of position as you said on the air?". Not in those exact words, but to that effect, between the lines. He is a sharp dude, be there done that.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

jeeze, that was a poorly worded post. Hope it made sense to someone.

Posted by: WhyGo | April 4, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

If that was Theo in net last night the flamethrowers would be out. Everyone got to see a Varly that is clearly not ready for the NHL right now.

Was a wierd game, Buffalo got alot of fortunate bounces. Thats what happens when you shoot and go to the net.

We need to come prepared for the Thrashers, they have been one of the hotter teams in the league the last few weeks.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 4, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

For those who have said Miller should have gotten 2 for roughing on the Ovechkin play, I can see that though rarely does anyone get that call. I've looked at the replay again and I just think folks are looking at that play with rose colored glasses. Ovechkin and defender are neck in neck coming in, mutual contact between the two, defenders momentum carries him right into Miller then Ovechkin, who could have totally avoided the collision, barrels into Miller. I have no problem with that call, and I have no problem with Ovechkin making that play. It's about time someone on the Caps takes it to the net and if they have to take penalties like that to get the puck to the net regularly, then I'm all for it.

Posted by: StikSav | April 4, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

What a fluky game -- Buffalo scored three goals that were last touched by a Cap, and the Caps were not exactly devoid of luck on their goals either (I'm thinking mostly of the last one). The most irritating thing about it was definitely the way-over-the-top celebrating by the Buffalo fans afterward. Pretty cocky for a group of people who are going to be watching the playoffs on TV. That said, they are definitely less objectionable than some other groups of fans I could name.

The goalie-interference call on Ovie was clearly wrong. When you watch it in slo-mo, Ovie is not even heading in Miller's direction until the collision with the D, and he then tries to stop, except that the D falls first, takes Ovie's legs out, and they both fly into Miller. Who then punches Ovie in the head. But overall, I thought the refs were OK. They did some other things right, such as not being afraid to call a second penalty when Semin was taken down during a delayed penalty.

Which leads to the Caps' 5-on-3. For a team with the talent they have, and with the #1 overall PP in the league, they do a poor job 5-on-3. I believe they are now 4/20 on the 5-on-3 this year. Of course, some 5-on-3's are like 8 seconds long, but still... their PP is 26% overall, which means they are LESS LIKELY to score on a 5-on-3 chance than 5-on-4! They look like they didn't bother to spend any practice time working on the 5-on-3, and Bruce just said "you stand here, you stand here, you stand here, and take slapshots." It worked once last night, but a little variety and unpredictability would help get the goalie and D out of position.
The biggest problem, I thought, was that they just ignored Semin over on the left side. If you're trying to defend a 5-on-3, and you can forget about one player, and one section of ice, because the puck never goes there, you have a much easier job. Yes, the forgotten man did swoop in and bat home a rebound, but overall the 5-on-3 looks uninspired, and has all year. With the players the Caps put out there, other teams should be soiling themselves when they have to go two men down; I don't see the 5-on-3 putting the fear into anyone right now.

Posted by: christiansonm | April 4, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

All in all I thought Varly looked good in his 4th NHL start. Every time I watch him play I raise my opinion of his potential.

Tough loss tonight in a game that had three own-goals.

Buffalo is a team we should take care of, like all the other teams we've played lately...

Posted by: smutsboy | April 4, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

A few thoughts:

1) I have no problem with the penalty they called on OV, but I do think there should have been a roughing on Miller. A goalie is not allowed to hit a player with his blocker.

2) The refs were not the reason we lost. In fact, we got some very good opportunities. The penalty on Flash was borderline, but after the string of PPs we got before that, it was not a surprise. I had no problem again with the call.

3) Buffalo wanted it more and they deserved the win. I did think we were going to eke out the win though.

4) Too bad this will be Buffalo's highlight game. I don't think they will make it.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | April 4, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

What's up with everyone saying Varly is not NHL ready? He's had 4 starts and he's only lost one. Last night's game shouldn't have made you believe that he isn't ready. The Sabres "scored" 3 goals where he had zero chance, the 4th goal he was caught out of position, but that happens to even the best goalies. The 5th goal was again a bad turnover, we put him in a bad position, the same way we always do to Theo.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 4, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Gosh, when did Washington get so many hockey fans? The empty seats disguised as fans have been replaced by fans disguised as empty heads. The Caps lose a meaningless game at the end of a great season and you'd think they just lost the Stanley Cup final. Chill out, boys and girls and save your angst for the play-offs. OV deserved the punch in the kisser because he was roaring toward the crease like a runaway train and Miller has been run all season and he's sick of it. Stop whining; it's unbecoming.

Posted by: gimmeabreak4 | April 4, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@gimmeabreak4 - Couldn't agree more. I realize that there are many long time Caps fans but I want to see what the fan base will be like once the Caps have an off season.
Miller's comments re OV: "“He’s a big body and he thinks he deserves a chance to cut as hard as he wants,” Miller said. “I’m coming off an ankle injury and I don’t want anybody blowing me over.
“Whatever. I get to play the villain for the night. I don’t go into too many rinks where I’m getting booed for something other than stopping the puck. I held off. I didn’t hit him. I gave him a push to say, ‘Smarten up.’ ”

Posted by: bluegold | April 4, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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