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After some 'soul searching,' Caps get it together

Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin(Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)


Here are some other notes and quotes from the Capitals' 7-2 win over the Flames Saturday night (here are the the full recap of the contest and a breakdown of David Steckel's first-ever penalty shot attempt and goal):

For those of you who didn't watch the game, hopefully you DVRed it. This one was definitely worth watching.

--As you might imagine, the whole team was happy with the win and response following the dreadful game against Minnesota. But while the second two periods were the game they wanted to play, the slow start continued to be a problem.

"I think it's the response that everybody wanted, for sure. We did some soul searching as a team [Friday]," Steckel said. "But we didn't really come out in the first period. We got behind the eight ball right away, without that key power-play goal it would have been 2-0 at the end of the first. The other 40 minutes? Yeah, I think that's what we wanted."

So exactly how good were those other 40 minutes? (And you can probably throw in that power play from the hooking call on Alex Tanguay late in the first period.) Pretty good. The offense ebbed and flowed after receiving the confidence boost of Nicklas Backstrom's power-play tally at 15:22 of the first, the result of a series of passes - Brooks Laich to Mike Green to Backstrom - that showed glimpses of why the Capitals were so effective on the power play a season ago.

The momentum with the man advantage snowballed into the second thanks to the fastest series of two goals (13 seconds) in Alex Ovechkin's career, but equally valuable was how the Capitals prevented Calgary from having any substantial scoring opportunities as they wrapped the Flames up in a whirlwind of goals. Calgary posted just 13 shots in the second two periods combined after 16 in the first.

"That's us at our best, for sure," Green said. "Now we just need to keep playing like that throughout the season. We're going to have our ups and downs, but it's good for us to have a game like that. Now we can build off of it."

--Coach Bruce Boudreau shook up the lines for Saturday's game, inserting Boyd Gordon and D.J. King while making Eric Fehr and Mathieu Perreault healthy scratches. He also started the game with Brooks Laich at center on the second line, which remained the case even as Alexander Semin moved up to play with Ovechkin and Backstrom.

"I thought everybody did their job, played well and played hard," Boudreau said when asked if he was pleased with the results of the lineup changes. "It was a rocky beginning, but I thought a good ending.... I think I was waiting for this game on the power play. We got every bounce known to man for awhile and then they started fighting the puck. When they start fighting the puck it becomes easier."

--It was a young guns renaissance game: four points for Backstrom and three each for Ovechkin, Green and Semin, and the innate chemistry between all of them was finally clicking.

"[The first goal] I think was what changed the momentum," Ovechkin said. "Nicky scored that goal and we feel pretty good about ourselves, know we can play and have to play simple."

It was about time for Ovechkin, Green said: "He gets grumpy when he doesn't score, so it's good for him to get a couple."

Boudreau said it wasn't clear from the outset that it was going to be one of those neatly orchestrated offensive nights but after Backstrom's power-play goal gave he had an idea of what was to come. All told, at least two of the quartet picked up points on five of the Capitals' seven goals.

"I knew they were excited about playing with each other and when we got the power-play goal and Nicky and Mike and Semin and Alex were all in on the play I thought: 'OK, something good's going to happen.'" Boudreau said. "Then they scored on the 5-on-3 and I said: 'OK, I've seen this picture before.' They could have probably had a few more."

--This may start to sound like a recording, but goaltender Michal Neuvirth had another solid outing with 27 saves that included weathering 16 shots in the first period to keep the game close for the Capitals.

And there wasn't much he could do on either of the Flames' goals. The first goal ricocheted off of several Karl Alzner before Olli Jokinen directed the puck in the net with his skate and Curtis Glencross's shot for the second was redirected by Brian Fahey's stick.

--The Capitals have only scored more than six goals in a single period on the road once; that was when they tallied seven against the Los Angeles Kings in 1993.

By Katie Carrera  | October 31, 2010; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Calgary Flames, David Steckel, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom  
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Next: Caps send Fahey, Perreault to Hershey

Comments

From previou thread:

Only problem with SOB line...who goes to the net?

Also...those who bashed the Caps for the two Boston games...Thomas now has 3 shutouts and a 0.5GAA and .984SV% Maybe we weren't quite as atrocious in those games as we thought.

GREAT 2nd and 3rd oeriods last night! glad the PP finally had some (a lot) of success...also against a team with a good PK! I hesitate though to say the lines should stay like that...Give Laich a few more games at center to see how he does, and I think MaJo and Laich might switch. Obviously Fehr will be back (was he a healthy scrtch?) Lets see what happens over the next few games before we make any major predictions.

Also...those who say BB can't adjust...what would you call last night then?

Posted by: capscoach | October 31, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Also...those who say BB can't adjust...what would you call last night then?

Posted by: capscoach | October 31, 2010 2:30 PM

capscoach - i don't think calgary employed the same defensive strategy that other teams have used to slow down the caps offense.
the first period the caps just got outworked. i believe the 'turn around' in the game was player effort - not any kind of BB adjustment.
what BB did do was shake up the lines - which took almost the whole 1st period to get going.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 31, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

@capt_Kirk

changing the lines is adjusting!, the PP became successful against a team with a good PK

BB has made our PK 100X better than last year, we are allowing less goals per game, and that is more than just Nuevy. You say it was player effort and not BB...but everyone is saying BB can't get the team to play right yet they just did...and it took them the whole period to mesh...well yeah...they didn't even get a practice together so I think it was pretty darn impressive they got it together so quick.

Give BB a little credit here! Some peole will never be satisfied or admit someone they don'tlike did a good thing.

Posted by: capscoach | October 31, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

It was fun to see Brent Sutter blow a gasket in the 2nd period last night with a long string of profanities. I thought that his head would explode when the Caps erupted for 6 goals!

Posted by: MReilly9 | October 31, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

capscoach:
i stand corrected. i was thinking 'in game' adjustments
i wasn't trying to trash BB - but last nights game turned around because of effort/desire on the players part.
i also think the inconsistent play so far is because BB is attempting to get the team to play better on D (this includes the PK)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 31, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@kirk

sorry if I blew up a bit there! I get the BB non-believers issues. Just threw my two cents in a little stronger than I meant to.

Posted by: capscoach | October 31, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I have wanted Semin, Ovie and Backs on line one for years. BB just doesn't want to put all his eggs in one basket.

Here is to hoping they stay on line one. Knuble is just a bit to slow for the speed Ovie and Backstrom bring to the game.

Give Knuble a few games with the grinders and I think he will find his scoring touch again.

But with that said, BB will tinker with the lines and keep changing them. I can only keep my fingers crossed. GO CAPS!

Posted by: Caps4Life1 | October 31, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Knuble has no business skating on the same line with 19 and 8. The right winger on that line has to be able to skate. I don't care who they throw out there...he has to be able to skate. Standing in front of the goal isn't an asset for that line. They need a guy who can keep up with them. 22 is so one dimensional at this point of his career it's embarrassing. It doesn't have to be 28 out there...but the guy has to be able to skate.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | October 31, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Here is one Caps fan that hopes Laich works out as 2C! He is good on faceoffs and this would sure fix alot of issues. Johansson would fill the 3C spot. With Ovie passing more, I think 8-19-28 will work.
I hate to keep beating this dead horse but, our defense needs help! Fahey and Sloan aren't NHL d-men. Of course nobody thinks they are out of the hunt right now so, I don't think we can make a trade. It's just painful to watch Fahey attempt to play hockey. Just wanted to throw some cold water on the party.

Posted by: chriscaps | October 31, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

So, am I right that D man Brian Fahey has two goals on the season, leading the rest of the defense corps -- both against the Caps?

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | October 31, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

The Flames had a real off-night, it was obvious. The Caps top line is lucky to have scored those freebie points when the Flames D just invited them into the center of their zone all night. If the Caps had faced a team that didn't keep shooting themselves in the foot, or a team that has any real defensive prowess, they'd be stymied and made to look stupid once again, having 3 dipsy-do fancy pansies on the first line. Still not one of those fairies are willing to do some dirty work and get in front of the net.

Posted by: BigGameSid | October 31, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Well Sid you could be right about all that. Of course I'm assuming your a Peguins fan with your name. I would love to have one of your defenseman. We will just have to see how the lines work out. BTW, Johnson has about 3 more games until he gets hurt, enjoy him while you can!

Posted by: chriscaps | October 31, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Even BigGameSid watched that remarkable demonstration by the Caps - hoped you and Canada enjoyed, superb puck, neh?

There just ain't another group of 4 players in the league who can play the way our top 4 play when they're on. (But we'll let other teams play the "right way" if it makes them happy.)

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 31, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a problem with the hero line (8-19-28). I realize BB has to tinker and experiment and shake things up once in a while, but every time he does, the whole team seems sluggish and off-balance. When 8, 19 and 28 play together they energize the whole team so let's just go with it.

LET'S GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: AmyS1 | November 1, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

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