Wade Belak. Too bad he can't score as much as he can instigate fights.
The big question about the Predators was can they score with no real #1 star forward?
The answer is a resounding no.
Legwand (19 goals on the season) had 5 shots, Dumont (12 goals on the season) had 3 shots and Fiddler (9 goals on the season) had 3 shots. All other Nashville forwards had less than 3 SOG.
Arnott has 27 goals on the year, but managed 1 shot. That is in part to the fact that he left the game with injury due to a hit. That's what Nashville gets for attempting to play a physical game. Nashville begins picking fights early, continues to hit hard and sure enough the Caps respond by knocking Arnott out of the game. Well deserved.
Weber and Suter did a good job against Ovechkin, he was in check for the bulk of the game, and his shots were very often blocked or wide. Wide shots are normally because the defender has cut down your shooting angle, and the defense did this very well against Ovie. The one problem with the OV focus is that you lose track of his linemates, and that's exactly what happened in this game. The first Caps goal exploited that problem.
Kozlov dished the puck to Ovechkin, and with Suter playing the puck (Kozlov) at the point on the rush, Weber was forced to go out and quickly cover Ovechkin's shooting lanes. This led to Backstrom being able to cut into the slot, between Suter and Weber, without a problem. Ovechkin spotted him and that promptly tied the game, as Ellis was helpless on the break.
That goal showed how hard it is for opposing defenders to shut down the top line. Even when you cut off Ovie's shooting lanes, the top line can still be effective with wise passing plays and timely cuts.
Big win for the slumping Caps. I'll be in Philly on Thursday night, so look for a few pictures.
(Photos copyright AP Images)
The bulk of this post will obviously be dedicated to yesterdays Caps/Pens matchup, but before, we have a bit of catching up to do (we at dangleblog-cfpf have been lazy city--oops).
The canes have been winning non-stop, the Rangers have been picking it up since Tortorella took over/the trade deadline(I think those were terrible long term moves for the record), and the Penguins still have a ways to go to lock up a playoff spot.
So with a tough stretch of games on the road and their backs still up against a wall, what do the pens go out and do? Well...win all 5 on the road trip. This easily could've buried the Penguins season, but instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they get a solid win against the BOLTS.
Then they turn around, head south to Miami, and after outplaying the Panthers, late in the 2nd Dvorak(or as FLA calls him "D-VO") gets a garbo goal. A lump in my throat quickly forms. Then Crosby shows why he is the Captain. Guerin feeds him a pass and he streaks down the ice. 1-1. Pens don't look back in the 3rd and a huge win is in the books.
Now onto D.C. Not a must win game, but one the team wants to win. Definitely would like to send a message to the Capitals that despite the other 3 results, the Penguins can in fact skate with them on the same ice. Do not want to get the season series swept.
The Crosby love fest was on at VZC. Signs. Props. Pacifiers. It was all on display. Despite packaging tickets to try and keep the rival fans out--Penguins fans still came out in droves. I wouldn't say it was as many as in the past, but still a strong showing.
Shaky start to the game, Pens weren't able to get too much together, and then it happens. Odd man rush for the Pens, Guerin passes the puck past a sprawled out Schultz to Crosby. Advantage Pittsburgh.
(Photos copyright AP Images)
CF-Tabaracci was none too pleased with Schultz's work on the play, but nonetheless...1-0 game.
Caps come back to tie it up before the end of the period after Letang made an ill-advised pass. As I was urging Letang to take his time, he does just that, but then inexplicably instead of firing the puck up the boards, he chips it right into Backstroms chest. Pass to Semin. Bang 1-1.
The rest of the period was definitely tilted the Caps way.
In the 2nd period though, the Penguins showed what they were made of. On the PP Gonchar fired home a solid top corner laser. Pens get the lead back.
Then Guerin gets the puck just inside the blue line, toe drags the puck, snipes it home top corner. Sick goal that almost shocked me. Guerin still has some touch left and looks to be having a good time so far. 3-1.
3rd period, the game turns into choke city for the Penguins. Ovechkin snipes with that ridiculous wrist shot he has. 3-2.
And then not a minute later, a poor line change turns into a breakaway for Brooks Laich. Laich looses the puck momentarily, makes a solid move, beats Fleury. New game.
Theodore has a sick save on Crosby somewhere in there, and another on Malkin. He wasn't messing around.
The caps had all the mo' after that. Poti later in the period hits a crossbar, fans think it goes in, review shows that it was absolutely not a goal. Caps have another swarm around the Pens net before the period ends. Nothing doing.
Headed for OT.
Caps definitely took it to the Penguins in OT, and had another swarm in front of the net, where Fleury came up big. Somehow the Caps didn't find the net.
Semin first. Surprisingly he comes in with a weak move, and Fleury keeps it out.
Letang's next. No dice.
Next up Kozlov. Fleury stands strong again.
So then Crosby's up. The boobirds are out. The anti-crosby schwag was waved. Yada Yada.
Crosby slides in, forehand, backhand, forehand, goal. Sid gets the last laugh.
(Photos copyright AP Images)
And it all comes down to Ovechkin fan vs Fleury fan. Ovechkin pulls out his patented head fake deke, Fleury wasn't biting, save. Game. Pens win. Big 2 points.
5-0 roadtrip. Coach Bylsma off to a stellar start. Now a huge homestand ahead, gotta still win games at a 2 out of 3 pace, as the field has tightened. But encouraging signs regardless.
-- Sykora sat out with an upper body injury, he hopes to play tuesday against the Panthers (another huge game), but is day-to-day. For Geno's sake, hopefully Sykora isn't out too long.
--After the game, Caps fans were complaining that they felt it wasn't a loss because of the shootout. Caps did play hard, and with a bounce here or two, could've won. Fair enough there. The rules are what they are though, and the Pens still got 2 very important points, so from my perspective...not much can be taken away from the win.
--Fleury=2 legit 2 quit.