Sunday, November 12, 2006

Caps Raid Rags, Boyd Breaks Drought

Donald Brashear and the Washington Capitals let the New York Rangers have it last night in a 3-1 victory. Less than three minutes in, Brashear got in his first official fight in a Caps sweater with Colton Orr of the Rags. Brashear let him have it, leaving Orr adjusting his jaw on the way to the penalty box. The Caps came out swinging from the start, beginning with the CBS (Clymer, Bradley, and Sutherby) line, a nice rush by Chris Clark, and Brashear laying a beat-down on Orr. It wasn't just Clark, Bradley, Ovechkin, and Zubrus finishing out their checks, but Morissonn, Pothier, and the rest of the Caps all racked up hits throughout the night. And speaking of Shaone Morissonn, what a great game he had. Shadowing Jaromir Jagr all night long, it was obvious by the end of the game, Jagr was just so frustrated and had no momentum. This was one of Morissonn's best games of his young career.

It also seems that defenseman Steve Eminger has found a new defensive partner. After veteran defenseman Jaime Heward was sidelined last game, the Caps recalled defenseman John Erskine from the Hershey Bears. Erskine played so well, they scratched Bryan Muir for the game against the Rangers last night, so that Erskine could play as Heward returned to the line-up. Earlier in the year, Eminger was being paired with Ben Clymer (forward moved back to D), yet Hanlon wanted to move Clymer back to re-unite the CBS line, which was one of the best decisions thus far this season. With Erskine playing so well, and playing defense his entire career, seems to make it easier on Eminger, and is less prone to make mistakes individually and together with his partner. It seems evident that partially it was being paired with Clymer that led to some of Eminger's poor play, however it was not the full reason. This combined with lack of confidence really hindered his game, leaving him to sit out three straight. It seems that Eminger's confidence has returned (as well as Clymer's now back as a forward), and his new partner Erskine makes it a pretty solid defensive pairing.

It's no suprise that Alex Ovechkin got the game winning goal in the third and Matt Pettinger had the insurance marker, however the first goal came from one of the most defensive-minded forwards on the team. Boyd Gordon, who's main role on this team is face-offs and penalty killing, intercepted a passing attempt by Sandis Ozolinsh using great forchecking skills, and slammed one home on his own rebound for the game's first goal. This unassisted goal was Boyd Gordon's first goal in over 70 NHL games, second of his young NHL career, ending his goal-scoring drought. A two point game for Boyd Gordon with an assist on Pettinger's second of the season garnered him the games second star. I've been wondering when he'd score his first of the season, especially after the game against the 'Canes having a few good opportunities. Perhaps it was some personal momentum left over from his scoring chances last game, seeing as for players like him, they don't come too often. After that goal went in, I was extremely happy for Gordon. When defensive players like Gordon get a goal, especially in a game coming off a big loss, it is highly deserved for all their hard work in keeping the other team off the scoreboard.

The number one star of the game, Olie Kolzig made 41 saves on the night in a stellar performance. The entire third period I was hoping for Kolzig to get his first shutout of the season, however Michael Nylander scored a 6 on 4 powerplay goal in the last five minutes of the game with Lundqvist pulled. It was a bit of a bummer as it was obvious that Kolzig truly deserved it. Next up, the Caps travel to the 12th placed Panthers down in Sunrise, Florida. The Caps are turning heads with a 7-5-4 record, who were claimed by many hockey "experts" to end at the Eastern Conference basement. At this point, I'm already wondering how expert they are.


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