Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stanley Cup Playoffs - Caps vs Habs Game 2

A little late getting this post up. Game 2 was exciting. I'm kind of happy I missed the first period and only heard the second on the radio.

Being up 4-1 in the NHL is usually enough and the way the Canadiens defense had been playing I'm sure they probably felt like they could keep it up. And then Nick Backstrom happened. A goal late in the second to cut the lead to two before the second period ended and then a goal sandwiched between goals from Ovechkin and Carlson. Plekanec scored for the Habs late in the third to take back the lead and then John Carlson scored with just over a minute left to take the game to overtime. And then 30 seconds into over Backstrom lit the lamp for the win, getting the hat trick and tying the series at 1 game a piece.

Backstrom stepped up in a big way Saturday night and John Carlson has continued to be the best defenseman on the ice for the Caps in the playoffs. Ovechkin drove the net, got big hits, and scored a goal, all things that need to happen if the Caps are going to win this series. And I have a feeling this series could take a real quick turn in the Caps favor.

Jose Theodore was pulled after he gave up two goals on two shots, a move Boudreau said was to try and give the bench a lift. And yes Varly still gave up three goals but he played well (you have to remember the Caps defense don't always make it easy for the goaltenders). This move has led to the question, who will start in net on Monday night? Theo or Varly? And it's almost a 50/50 tossup. But my opinion is Theo will be in goal come game time. Last season saw Jose pulled in game two only to have Varly become an instant love for Caps fans. But Gabby's a good coach and I think this year is different. Theo has played really well all season and although he has given up some soft goals in this series, the defense and the play between the blue lines hasn't made it easy for him.

If the move on Saturday was to try and help the bench and give the team a little life, then having Varly start on Monday doesn't make sense. Theo wants to start Monday night. He wants to play better and help his team win this series and win the Stanley Cup. And if Theo gets the defensive help he needs and if the offense can produce like they did in the third period of Saturday's game, Theo will be just fine in goal. I think Boudreau will give Theo the nod in game three but I wouldn't be surprised if Varly started game 4 or 5. I think the plan all along has been to run with both goalies and if one got hot to ride him but I don't think Theodore was ever going to get the nod for every game of the playoffs.

There has been some stellar goal tending in this years playoffs but there's also been a lot of scoring. Where there have been some amazing saves and some real highlight reel stuff, the scoring in about half the games has been crazy. The Caps are good at scoring. Scoring 2 goals in game one was shocking. I think I can count on one hand the times the Caps have scored only two goals in a game this season. They are a high powered offense and it'll be hard for even the best goaltenders to keep them under 3 goals a game. The Habs defense in game 1 was amazing and it looked good for two periods in game 2. But one the Caps started coming straight down the middle in the third period and driving the net, they made it really hard for the Habs defense to stop them. You'll see more of that in game 3.

My final thought is simple; The Caps need to be better on the power play. The Canadiens have done a great job defending the umbrella and taking away the passing lanes that make the Caps power play affective. Boudreau is going to need to figure out how to score with the man advantage. To really take hold of this series and crush the Habs, they're going to have to score on the power play.

Rock the Red!

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