Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Caps/Habs: What We've Learned Through Three Games

Since we're at about the midway point of this series no matter how it turns out, let's see what we've learned so far, with the Caps leading 2-1.

Tomas Fleischmann is even more worthless in the playoffs than he is in the regular season.

We're gonna have to run through this one game by game:

-Game 1: 0 goals, 0 assists, 1 shot on goal, -1 rating in 16:21 of ice time, 2:59 of which came on the PP. Was set up on at least two occasions in front of the net, unable to bury backhands past Jaroslav Halak. Going 50% on 10 draws was the only positive for Fleischmann in this one.

-Game 2: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 shot on goal, +1 rating in 15:18 of ice time, 3:09 of which came on the PP and 1:20 on the PK. This was by far Flash's most productive game of the series, which isn't saying much. He sprung Eric Fehr on a breakaway for the first goal of the game, essentially a layup pass after Montreal's turnover in the Caps' defensive zone. Otherwise, Flash was practically non-existent.

-Game 3: 0 goals, 0 assists, 2 shots on goal, even rating in 15:14 of ice time, 4:09 of which came on the severely struggling PP and 0:29 on the PK. Game 3 was easily Flash's worst of the series. He made three consecutive awful plays for the Caps: 1) an atrocious offensive zone penalty; 2) failure to shoot the puck from right outside the crease, instead missing the trailer pass to Semin, leading to a Montreal 2 on 1 the other way; 3) fanning on a shot from the point, leading to another odd man rush for Montreal.

While his playing time is ever so slowly decreasing, the fact that he's even seeing 15 minutes per game is perplexing. Especially when you consider that...

Eric Fehr has been an absolute monster in minimal ice time.

This one we actually learned in the regular season, as Fehr was once again in elite company in goals per 60 minutes of ice time. It's always nice when these stats are backed up in the playoffs, and that is exactly what Fehr has been doing. I can say confidently that he is the Caps' best forechecker. Two examples: 1) his goal in Game 3, where he banked a pass to himself off the left sideboards, laid it off for Brooks Laich, crashed the net, and buried the rebound; 2) Laich's goal in game 3, where Fehr deftly played the puck along the wall behind the net while absorbing contact, skated to the front of the cage, and screened Halak as Laich shot the puck into the back of the net. Players like these win you playoff games, and Fehr's aggressive and effective forechecking may be the best way to beat the trap. I never thought I'd say this, but the two Alex's could learn a thing or two from Eric Fehr.

The Montreal goaltending is easily beatable.

Jaroslav Halak: 1-2, 4.07, .887. A shaky glove hand. A shaky water bottle hand. Has allowed 9 goals in his last 50 minutes of play! Most likely will be benched in Game 4 for...

Carey Price: 0-0, 3.87, .913. These numbers come in limited ice time (31 minutes in Game 3) so take them with a grain of salt. His regular season numbers against the Caps might be more telling: 2-1-1, 3.39, .899.

There's no use in being quiet anymore: the sleeping giant hath awaken, and the pressure is all on Halak and Price to put it to bed.

The Power Play is struggling mightily but it does NOT need an overhaul.

The raw stats are ugly: 0 for 14, including a horrendous 0-7 clip in last night's Game 3. It almost seems as though Montreal is getting more scoring chances on our PP than we are, and a lot of that blame has to be pinned on pointmen Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. When they are not getting shots off from the point, the power play is just not the same. Countless times in Game 3 Nicklas Backstrom had the puck near the right faceoff circle, looking for his pointmen to thread a pass to. But the pass was never there, and as much as we'd like Backstrom to shoot the puck in that situation every single time, he's just not going to do it. Bruce Boudreau seemed fed up with Alex Ovechkin's point play at various points in the game, electing instead to play Joe Corvo and move Ovie down low, a wise decision if you ask me. This will eliminate some of the turnovers and simplify the power play, as Corvo has no problems firing shot after shot from the point. I predict a breakout game for the power play unit in Game 4. And maybe, just maybe, some of Flash's power play minutes will be replaced by Eric Fehr.

Canadiens fans who booed the American National Anthem are a disgrace.

I wasn't at Game 1 or Game 2 at the Verizon Center, so I'm not 100% on this, but I doubt many people in the crowd were booing the Canadian National Anthem. Habs fans booing the Star Spangled Banner doesn't even make sense, anyway! It's not like the Caps are flooded with American players. In fact, there is only one fewer American player on the Habs (Gionta, Gomez, Gil) than on the Caps (Poti, Corvo, Carlson, Steckel), unless John Carlson counts as three players, which he might. Just truly classless by the Bell Centre fans.

Warning to the NHL: Semyon Varlamov has returned.

Absolutely phenomenal performance by Varlamov to stand on his head (especially in the first period) in front of a raucous Bell Centre crowd. The Caps seemed overwhelmed in the first period, almost reeling a bit, and Varlamov kept them in the game until Boyd Gordon was able to subdue the crowd and kill any momentum with his shorthanded goal.

Uh-oh, NHL?

One of my few bold predictions that came true, Varlamov started Game 3 and crushed it. He will start Game 4, and if the Caps win, he'll start Game 5. Sorry, Theo. You just don't match up well with the Canadians for whatever reason.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs is far and away the best postseason in all of sports.

But you knew that already, right? Right. Play this on repeat if you don't...or if you do.


  1. John Carlson is a fucking god.

    That was another bold prediction that came true. Good shit. Let's bury these queeb monkeys.

  2. I didn't even think that prediction was very bold - we already knew Carlson was God.

  3. You forgot about Steckel in the part about the National Anthems. He was born in the USA too.

  4. Flash had a primary assist in game 3 on Fehr's goal. It seems like Fehr and Flash take turns being productive...one goes hot while the other goes cold. I think in the long run, Flash will be the slightly better player.

  5. Flash wasn't on the ice for Fehr's goal in Game 3 (it was the Laich-Morrison-Fehr line). I think you're referring to Game 2, and that assist was mentioned - albeit as a layup pass.

    Flash might become more productive on paper, points-wise (although I highly doubt it), but that wouldn't necessarily mean he's the better player. He contributes nothing aside from the occasional offensive outburst, so when he's not clicking he's completely useless. He is also a defensive liability. He would be more effective if he was treated as a "power play specialist" like Glen Metropolit because he's such a good passer. He's just way too soft to be effective in the playoffs.

  6. I have a feeling the PP unit will strike not once but twice tonight. Despite the 0-for, they started looking a bit more organized once they moved Ovie off the point. A few more shots vs. passes (looking at you, Lars and Green) would help.

  7. RyanheartseverythingCapsApril 21, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Good read here (what else is new?). I'll confirm for those who were not in attendance, absolutely no booing during game 1 & 2 anthems. And I did some pondering; according to my spiteful calculations, one must maintain a zero degree of self-respect and lack even a modicum of potential for real world success (beit socially, spiritually, or professionally) to be able to follow through on such tasteless endeavoing. I'm not mad with patriotism or anything- more just an advocate for the classy.


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