My mother always told me “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, Mom probably didn’t realize I’d take up sports-writing as a hobby, and that part of sports-writing is that you have to say some not nice things. Especially when your team goes out and plays a game like the one the Caps played tonight.
I know she’ll be reading this, so, sorry Mom…in advance.
A quick shout out – Before I get to the game stuff, which you really probably already know about anyway, and probably aren’t in any big rush to hear about yet, I’d like to thank John and Winnie, two die-hard season ticket holders that kept me entertained prior to tonight’s game.
If you happen to have the chance to meet them at the Green Turtle at Verizon Center, buy them a beer, they are good company.
Does this make my butt look big? – At the beginning of the game, the camera-person found the fan with the “rally horn” and he was displayed on the scoreboard doing what he does best; blowing his horn to the familiar “LET’S-GO-CAPS” cheer.
Unfortunately, the camera person must not have noticed the rather large woman who was bent over her seat right next to him until after her butt was taking up most of the scoreboard. To their credit they tried to stay with the “rally horn” fan, and tried to pan over as much as they could to spare the crowd as much of the unintentional mooning as possible, but there was no escaping it.
I wonder if anyone told her.
The phantom goal – Alex Ovechkin is so gifted he can will the puck into the net without ever touching it. The Caps goal in the first period was officially credited to Nicklas Backstrom, but it sure looked like Ovie had given the Caps a 1-0 lead on the power play.
Apparently what happened was that Nick’s shot hit a defender’s skate and went in. Alex had wound up to get the one-timer to the left of the net, and did in fact swing, so it made it look like he had scored. Gotta give those scoring officials credit, they have the sharp eye!
Wait; there’s two more periods? – At the end of the first period the Caps looked to be pretty fairly in control of the game. They had a 1-0 lead, and were leading in shots 8-4. Two of Florida’s four shots came near the end of the period on the power-play.
See if I ever say anything nice about you again! – Jose Theodore was coming off a shutout performance, and seemed to be handling his rebounds well. Just as I finished making a note about how he’s starting to look good he gave up his first goal of the night.
See if I ever say anything nice about you again; Part Deux! – After his first couple of games, it’s hard to remember that Karl Alzner is a rookie. He certainly looked like it tonight. He was caught out of position early in the first period, but was saved by the quick stick of Sami Lepisto. Early in the second period he over-skated Ville Peltonen who stopped short, used Alzner as a screen and beat Jose Theodore for the Panthers first goal of the night.
Later in the second period he had the misfortune of being in the way of David Steckel’s break-out pass and had the puck ricochet off his skate to beat Theodore 5-hole.
What’s the fastest way to kill a penalty? – Score on yourself! They’ll never expect that and you get your guy out of the penalty box quicker! Alzner’s (ahem) goal was a PPG that was credited to Jay Bouwmeester, and a little less than five minutes later, Shaone Morrison was in the crease with Theodore when Bryan McCabe snapped off his wrister.
The puck actually bounced off Morrison and into the net.
I haven’t heard the Boo-Birds of winter in a while – As the second period wound to a close the boo-birds let their dissatisfaction be known. There weren’t very many of them, but in the absence of anything worth cheering about, their voices were heard.
I guess when you’re 9-0-1 at home; you aren’t going to hear much in the way of dissatisfaction.
Where’d everybody go? – By the start of the third period, less than half the 16,792 fans who had attended tonight’s game had left. Those that stayed made sure they pointed out whatever it was that the Caps were doing wrong.
Several times throughout the third period, the scoreboard operators tried to get the fans back into the game with their “MAKE SOME NOISE” graphics and “The Good Ol’ Hockey Game” song, but fans of a team that is losing 4-1 were having a hard time figuring out what they wanted to make noise about, and certainly were in no mood to sing.
No Excuses – This was the first time I’ve had the chance to sit in on a press conference with Couch Boudreau after a Caps loss. He neither made, nor would accept any excuses for the way the Caps played tonight. When asked about the goals that bounced in off of his own players he replied with “Yeah, but didn’t our first goal go in off one of their guys? At least the goal we got was shot by one of our guys.”
When asked about his team looking lethargic he agreed “Yeah, they did. Quite frankly it was the least energy that I think we’ve had all year. I talked about how we needed to have a lot of energy tonight because their team was coming off a big win in New York, and they’d be ready to play us. I don’t know what it was. I have no idea. I mean, maybe we had too many days off.”
When asked about Theodore’s performance giving up four goals on 16 shots he said “He was like the rest of the team. The biggest problem is when the goalie is like the rest of the team, he stands out like a sore thumb, but he probably wasn’t any worse than the rest of our players.”
When asked about the apparent inexperience on the blue-line he said “I dunno, we talk about inexperience at this level, but I mean it’s the common sense plays they’ve been doing since they were thirteen years old that were the ones, and it wasn’t just the inexperienced guys that were makin’ ‘em.”
I wouldn’t describe Coach Boudreau as seething, but I tell you this much…
…I wouldn’t want to be a Washington Capital that had to report to practice in the morning!