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Capitals rally for a 5-4 shootout win over Maple Leafs

This was a strange game and far from a perfect one from the Capitals, who allowed three goals to Toronto in the third period after giving up just five in that frame through the first 11 games of the season, but they still managed to come away with a 5-4 shootout win against the Maple Leafs.

Boyd Gordon summed things up rather well about this game, which had a positive result but largely left the Capitals focusing on their need for a killer instinct when they're up 3-1, something they've usually demonstrated this season.

"I think we stepped back a little too much," he said. "They came out hard in the third. We were kind of on our heels, looked a little sluggish, but we found a way to get back tied up, to get the win. We've got to do a little bit better job with the leads, but tonight we got away with it."

Here are some other notes, quotes and observations from Wednesday night's game at Verizon Center:

--Right before the blue-collar efforts of Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon and Jason Chimera led to the Capitals' second goal, things didn't look good for Washington. For 30 seconds the Capitals were unable to get the puck out of their zone, regardless of who made the clearing attempt.

Bradley was one of the players scrambling to try to force the puck out when it finally did escape past the blue line. He pushed the play forward and chipped the puck behind the net to Gordon, who made a nice pass to Chimera on the doorstep.

"Any time you spend a long time in [your zone] and you're next up you want to create energy back your way," Chimera said. "You want to take the puck get back in their end and either create some energy, score a goal or get a big hit just to get some of that energy back."

--With chances like the ones Mike Knuble had in the first 30 seconds against Toronto, you can't help but think his dry spell won't last too much longer. It wasn't Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson that stopped either of Knuble's shots on the doorstep but rather defenseman Luke Schenn, who swept the puck off the goal line twice.

"I don't know how many chances Knubs has had in the last four or five games it just doesn't go in for him," Chimera said. "It seems like one bounce away from scoring 20."

--With a goal and an assist, Alexander Semin, who was in front of the Leafs' net more than one might expect, has recorded eight points in the past five games. The Capitals are 4-0-0 when Semin scores a goal.

--Is this the end of the power-play slump? The Capitals have gone 5 for 8 with the man advantage in the past two games after recording just four power-play goals (on 38 chances) in the first 10 games of the season.

"Sometimes we try and play too cute," Alex Ovechkin said when asked about the power play. "When we try and play too cute, it doesn't work. When [Semin] scored the goal -- we shot the puck and got the rebound."

--It wasn't a pretty night for the Caps in the faceoff circle. Only David Steckel won more than half of his draws, successful on 8 of 11. Tomas Fleischmann won 9 of 18, Boyd Gordon 8 of 16 and Nicklas Backstrom won just 4 of 17.

--Michal Neuvirth earned his first shootout win with a 24-save effort and also thwarted Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin in the shootout.

By Katie Carrerra  | November 4, 2010; 12:10 AM ET
Categories:  Boyd Gordon, Jason Chimera, Mike Knuble  
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Next: Capitals perfect with Boyd Gordon in the lineup

Comments

I've always followed the NHL battlers closely. That was the worst performance I've ver seen from DJK. He's handled Colton fairly easily going back to the Juniors.

Does BB let everyone just get plain out of shape. I sure hope DJK is sick, because he looked gassed the entire fight. If DJK is going to be fighting Boog's, Shelly, Orr, McGratten when we play those Eastern teams, he had better get in shape.

Really not what I expected. (Which is the norm I guess when guys put on a Caps jersey now, after having played somewhere else.)

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 4, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to predict right now Knuble scores one OR TWO Friday night. Thomas isn't that good and Knuble isn't this bad.

BTW, Flash laid out a huge, open ice body check tonight; unfortunately, it was another Cap he hit.

And, if I didn't mention it enough on several previous threads, Pierre McGuire and the Doofus Brigade go together more than a cold beer and another cold beer.

Speaking of two beers, now that Lindsay has reported that cstanton1 has not been given a game misconduct from CI, it's time for him to come out and skate a regular shift (note I said a "regular" shift).

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 4, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Huntsy: I thought King was OK in the fight, where I worried was his 5-on-5 shifts. He was out of position constantly and his line got abused like Charlie Sheen's girlfriend.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 4, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal
@Cstanton1

I agree DJK looked bad all night. Not the player I watched in St. Louis. What does he do in practice with the Caps ? How does he look so out of it ? Lack of playing time ? Is BB really that soft of a coach ?
This guy is your big hammer,who supposedly can play some hockey too. Not good.

Cstanon are you alive out there ???????????????????????

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 4, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Seriously? Even I expected a better game from the Caps against the LAFFs than this.

No more Mike Green and Norris talks in the same sentence, ever again from the shameful display tonight. What a joker. More coddling and excuses from BB please, that'll help.

Backstrom looked like he was missing and arm and leg out there, where did his speed, finish and dominance go? Brutal on the faceoff dot. Disgraceful defensively. The Caps need to find a true #1 center because this kid looks absolutely useless out there, might explain why OV is just as bad.

Neuvy is starting to look tired. Glass groin will take a while to be in reg season mode, let alone stay healthy. Ray Emery anyone? He'll fit right in with the party, no discipline culture that the Caps encourage. And maybe he'll give a few beat downs to the 10+ dummies on the Caps who don't know what "defense" means, if that's the only way for them to learn their lesson.

Take off those glasses Caps fans, and realize how many holes your team has, and are being ignored by mgt... that is if you really care about winning a Cup someday.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 4, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Our defense is incapable of clearing the area in front of the goal. Almost every time the Leafs scored, two guys were parked in front of Neuvy. This is completely unacceptable, and will result in goals on us 9 times out of 10.

This is Hockey 101, and yet it happens again and again. If we aren't going to get bigger defensemen, then the ones we have need to step up to the plate and do their jobs.

Posted by: blueblonde | November 4, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

One highlight was the "Semin Hat Trick" - he had a goal, an assist and a stick minor in the offensive zone.

Posted by: tim-n-VA | November 4, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Why is the ice so brutal at Verizon? It doesn't do any good having the most skilled team in the league if they can't control the puck every home game because it's bouncing so much and getting caught up near the boards because there are gaps between them and the ice. That was just an embarrassment last night.

Posted by: Stu_c | November 4, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Not the prettiest game...schultz, Backstrom, and ERskine looked off. Neuvy looked a but tired, but we dug deep and won!

So hate to admit it but Crysby kinda won a fight!

Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I was actually thinking the exact same thing about McGuire while watching.

He is an obvious case of a person who has already decided who he likes and dislikes and will describe the game in a way that supports his beliefs. There is never a case of him just giving an honest, and unbiased, viewpoint of what happened on the ice.

And McGuire hates Semin. Semin must have done something to him. Maybe he made fun of him or something because McGuire will jump immediately on Semin whenever he does something wrong and every compliment he gives Semin is always followed by the obligatory "but he is so enigmatic that you never know what you are going to get". He can never just say, "Semin made a great pass" and just leave it at that.

Another thing on Semin, I thought his 2nd penalty was a weak call. It didn't look like he hooked the Leafs defender at all. The 1st penalty was definitely a penalty, but I don't think his 2nd one was.

IMO, the 2nd and 3rd line were the best two lines today and each played one of their better games.

B Gordon played great and he shows what he can do when he is healthy(he showed last year in the playoffs too). BGordon is very good on the boards in the offensive zone. He may be the best Cap in terms of his ability to get the puck off the boards quickly and make an accurate dump to another guy on the boards or out front. It seems most Caps seem to either hit it too hard or too soft, Gordon is pretty good at cycling and his line with Chimera and Fehr did a pretty good job of it(it was mostly Chimera and BGordon).

Unfortunately BGordon is rarely healthy.

I also thought the 2nd line did very well creating chances and pressure in the Leags end. They forechecked well and got to the net a bunch. Laich and Knuble missed on a few very good chances in close and Flash scored on a tip in front of the net. It was a good showing by them.

Overall the Caps played a very good game. They had about a 6 minute run in the 3rd where they looked horrible. It will happen over an 82 game season. But until that 6 minute period of poor play happened I think most people on here were ready to praise the Caps and their effort. It was a good overall game with a bad 6 minute stretch. I'm not too worried, that happens a few times over the course of a season.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 4, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Big Game Sid... Wait are the pens .500 or are the caps...HMMM. Wait the Caps are tied for 1st in the league. The caps have not had a team only meeting because their #1 goalie can't stop a beach ball!!!!

Posted by: Tprpolen | November 4, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I am not that pleased with the 8-4 record with so many OT wins. I like the wins, but who and how is what troubles me. The Caps have looked plain bad against the only legit playoff team they have faced, the Bruins. Yes, Timmy Thom is very hot right now, but the Bruins have controlled the play for the most part due to the Caps stretch play and expose your defense/goalie system. Look at how long the Caps get pinned in their own zone with forwards floating waiting for passes, not backchecking. Watch how little time they get in the o-zone due to weak forechecking and how many low % shots they take without much screening. Also the stretch passes more often than not are leading to oddman breaks against the Caps, not for them. Other coaches have watched film and know how to play the Caps old system, so...

My analysis tells me that BB's system is either too reliant on quick offense or his players are not buying into his adjusted system. Therefore, it's time to replace BB before the playoffs. Yes really. An 8-4 record against teams that will not make the playoffs is fun for now, but not good for the playoffs. The only legit playoff team so far has been the Bruins. I want to see how BB's system does against the Flyers, Boston, Pens, Bolts and other playoff bound eastern teams.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 4, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

This from a guy who says political comments don't belong on hockey blogs. What a tool. Albeit a patriotic one, but, alas, a tool. Why not take your insecurities elsewhere?

Posted by: capscapscaps2


You are seriously talking about insecurities after that post you made yesterday morning??!! Give me a break, what a hypocrite.

Posted by: PhilR | November 4, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS

I kinda felt like the caps tried to revert back to their old system last night...they were reminded how much they enjoyed scoring goals last season...the top line tried the stretch pass way to much and we gave up our lead b/c of it.

Overall this season I feel the caps are playing a more responsible style, but are still learning to play it effectively. The Boston games were not AS bad as we probably think they were. We had a lot of SOGs and only gave up 3...not saying it was pretty, but I think TimTom was a legitimate factor in those losses...that said we have to bug the crap out of him in front of the net on friday if we don't want another repeat.

All in all the season is young, we have a winning record, TONS of young guys and a new system(well defensive focus really) that will take a while to get used to. Remember in Boston we also had a lot of injuries. I just don't think it is time to be concerned yet...things are getting better (slowly but surely). The offense is coming a bit more, SOGs are down, the PK is still good, and I think as the offense gets more confident they will learn how to play D at the same time they are trying to score.

Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

The only posts allowed are from the KGB (Koolaid drinking Goat Blooders), rivals to the doofus brigade. Politburo not so happy with win, may have fat bird-calling coach working on Siberian railroad if defensive minded, playoff ready system not instituted soon.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 4, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

@JIM

did u actually just try to set rules for who can and can not post here or did I misread that last post? Because I about LMAO!

Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Once again not a full 60 minute effort, I was very satisfied with the first two periods and then they just came out thinking they had already won the game in the third. It reminded me of game 5 against the Habs last year where they thought the Leafs were just going to roll over and bow to their greatness. If BB can not fix that attitude then either he must go or a trade needs to happen to bring in a vet who will not alow that type of performance, ie....bust some players asses when they get that attitude.

Posted by: PhilR | November 4, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

FYI...just looked at Nuevy's pic on NHL.com for most wins and never noticed until now that he has the most tragic picture! He has this extremely pathetic look on his face like he had no clue they were about to take his picture.

Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

but until last night they had done a good job holding on to leads...I really felt they simply reverted back to their old ways in that game. They need to stick with the new focus and not lose patience with it. They wanted to go on another goal scoring spree and they almost lost because of it...hopefully they learned their lesson.

Was it just me or did Neuvy look a bit tired in that game? He played ok, but he just seemed half a second slow.

Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

@Capscoach, Saw you comment about the Crosby fight and had to go watch. I hate him for so many reasons but I will give hime credit. Dude is a leader and a winner. Their team is struggling and he is doing anything and everything to help pull them out of it. Would not surprise me if they go on a run having watched their captain go out and fight for them.

Now does that make up for him crying and generally being a little punk..NOPE. But he does deserve some credit.

Posted by: Searchingforstanley | November 4, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I think Neuvy looked fine but the D in front of him was not good at different points throughout the game. Last night was Green and Schultz's worst games of the season by far and it showed with Neuvy giving up a four spot.

I saw the D (especially Carlson) jump in the play far too often in the third period last night. When you have a two goal lead the D should be playing a bit more conservative than that. It was really disappointing to watch.

Posted by: PhilR | November 4, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

A Semin hat trick must involve the sweet sound of the bongos.

Posted by: guer_j | November 4, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

There was a lot of opinions regarding etiquette during the US National Anthem. Here is guidance as to the etiquette during the US National Anthem as outlined by our elected officials. It's not law, and even if it was, people would do what they want and call it freedom of speech. Anyhow, there are expectations. Cornell Law provided a link.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode36/usc_sec_36_00000301----000-.html

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 4, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

thats pretty much what I said...they wanted to go on another goal scoring spree and almost lost because of it...they have to learn to be happy with 3-1 wins. Schultz had a really rough game, but so did Erskine, and Green was not at his best, but played nicely on the PP. The top line kept trying to force the stretch pass which was really annoying.

@searchingforstanley

yea...I hate the guy, but gotta give him props for going out for his team...however...they are already injury plagued with no slaray cap wiggle room so if he had gotten hurt there would have been a lot of unhappy Penguins! I hate to admit it, but my guess is Pitt has a legitimate shot at the cup :( Fluerry will eventually pull it together and with their new fancy defensemen and scoring ability they will be quite a threat once they are healthy...of course if they continue to have injury issues they are scr***d as they won't have any money at the trade deadline.

Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

@ Capscoach, I only limit who can post in my KGB persona, as if I am a mid-level KGB functionary. I wanted a name for the middle of the roaders, so Koolaid drinking Goat Blooders (KGB). It's for laughs, yeah.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 4, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

New link, and Boyd Gordon had a good game last night. Now, if he could only stay healthy!

Posted by: PhilR | November 4, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

sjag1: The timeline you provided for the booing of each nation's national anthem is wrong. Montreal fans booed our national anthem after the US invaded Iraq. US citizens are do not think ill of Canada.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 4, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

JIM: I've coined middle-of-the-roaders "Fence Sitters" if you like that term.

capscoach: We call Neuvy "Baby Bird" as a nickname at home becuase he has that pitiful look on his face and little eyes like a, well, baby bird.

And I am copying this post:

One highlight was the "Semin Hat Trick" - he had a goal, an assist and a stick minor in the offensive zone.

Posted by: tim-n-VA | November 4, 2010 5:31 AM

To let Tim know that the "Alex Semin Hat Trick" was my invention, even posted it last night (and occasionally over the past three years). I don't mind if you copy, just note the source. Thank you, thank you very much.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 4, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"So hate to admit it but Crysby kinda won a fight!"
Posted by: capscoach | November 4, 2010 6:52 AM

Has he perfected his nut-punch?

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | November 4, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

@BigGameSid - funny post, actually. If you're going to be a troll, at least be a funny troll and you're getting there. Just keep it tasteful.

@HunterForCoach - I'm not a hockey fights person, but DJK came into the team seriously nicked and it looks to me like he's gotten hammered in every fight. Last night Orr got a hold of his right hand in a hammerlock and DJK became nothing but a human punching bag. Brutal.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 4, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Question:

was it just me or was the ice very bad list night? I'm thinking that's the story of the game: people falling down, all kinds of puck whiffs and mishandles (too many to count). If I'm the players, I'd go to Leonsis and give him some crap about it. They make their living on that ice and they deserve better.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 4, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Caps aren't the 1978 Canadiens.

But then again the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens last spring weren't even playoff worthy and they ended up in the conference final.

So, let's admit that the NHL is watered down with expansion and teams don't exhibit the type of discipline and organization that they did 20 years ago.

The Caps are better in goal with Neuvirth. They are better on the PK.

Do they still need some help on D and down the center line? Yes.

But let's point to another Eastern Conference team that has all the elements right now of a classic Cup winner from years ago.

There isn't one.

Some teams have a goalie and defense but don't have anyone to put the puck in the net. Others have 1 or 2 scorers but are playing AHL caliber goalies. Still others have talented players who have a long history of being hurt and not making it through the season to the playoffs (see Boston here).

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | November 4, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Crosby's fight: He took on a guy with one more fighting major than the PA announcer while wearing a visor. If he wants to fight lose the visor. In the video though you can see him use his lower body strength to a huge advantage. Admittedly I didn't realise he had that much lower body strength.

As to McGuire- he's a former scout and coach and knows the game. His "act" can wear thin (his audience last night was Canadian viewers of which the vast majority were Leafs fans- the longstanding joke is TSN stands for Toronto Sports Network), but he knows the game or else he wouldn't be doing what he does. As for his comments about Semin- admittedly I'm not a Caps fan, but Semin is an enigma. At times he plays lights out and looks dangerous beyond words, and at other times you wonder what it is that he's doing out there (and his playoff pedigree isn't very good).

Posted by: jcurrin | November 4, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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