Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stanley Cup Playoffs - Caps vs Habs Game 1

I'll probably post my blog thoughts on each of the games for as long as the Caps go through the playoffs (although I'll miss part of the game on Saturday).

So the Caps dropped game 1 in overtime. A stunning 3-2 loss that I think really had all of Caps nation in stunned silence. I was shocked. Not so much shocked on how they lost, just that they did. I was covering this game for Washing Sports Jam and I had tweeted that one of the poor passing turnovers was going to end up being the killer and in the end it was.

The Caps had a pretty strong 1st period. They out shot the Canadiens 19-7. A power play goal given up, followed by a Joe Corvo slapshot ended the first period 1-1 and all seemed ok. Halak looked god but the feeling was that if the Caps kept up their intensity, they would beat Halak and put this game away in the second.

But they didn't. Knd of back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the second period and then the Habs turned it on. They had a nice long shift from their top line in their offensive zone to keep the pressure on Theo and to wear down the Caps. No goals in the second period but things weren't looking great.

The third period brought a Backstrom goal that lifted Verizon Center and my hopes. A 2-1 lead was nice and if the Caps could keep the pressure on and could get another goal then the game would be over and the Caps would take game one. But on a nice breakaway Gomez was left open and had an open net that tied the game up.

The end of the third period and overtime was some sloppy play. Poor passing from the Caps through the middle that just seemed lackluster and half-hearted, like they didn't need to try hard because they could come back and score at will. But the Canadiens' defense was strong and held the Caps, continuing to force turnovers between the blue lines and in overtime one of those turnovers led to the Habs game winning goal.

First off, Theo was strong in goal. All I've heard for two days is how the Caps can only go as far as their goaltender will allow them and to be honest, I'm confident in Theo's abilities as a goalie to keep the Caps in games and winning games. He made a lot of great saves to keep the game going as long as it did. Theo went 30-7-7 this year. That's pretty good. In fact, that's really good. Yes it helps when your team can score 4 or 5 goals a game but Theo's been a monster all year and in the Caps defense was better, Theo would be getting more respect.

Ovie had no shots tonight... And although I think for the Caps to be successful in the playoffs Ovechkin has to be scoring but I don't blame him for tonight. The defense played him well. Which is my second point, The Caps have to find a way to beat the Canadiens' defense. The Habs play team defense. WHen the Caps would get the puck and try to start a breakaway their would be all five of the Canadiens' back on defense. They did a good job of protecting Halak and a great job at clogging up the middle. The Caps need to have better passing between the blue lines and they need to beat the defense.

Lastly the Caps need to shoot the puck. They had a 2 on 1 and a 3 on 2 where they got on shot of goal. That's a problem. The 3 on 2 had Halak on his bely and Backstrom didn't pull the trigger. On Wednesday night all four of the playoff games had goals scored that were taken from bad angles or blind shots that got redirected for goals. The shots don't have to be pretty or perfect but you have to pressure Halak if you want to win.

I'm upset I'll miss most of game 2 but I look for the Caps to play much much better then they did tonight and I look for Ovie to have a goal. Down 1-0 sucks but I'm not counting the Caps out.

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