Wow. These guys like to make it interesting, but that’s one of the crazier contests the Caps have played in the past two seasons. Scoring chances aplenty for both sides. Sure, Jose Theodore gave up five goals, but he still might have been the Caps fourth-best player in the game. He made several gigantic saves, and he had little help in front of him.
How did Bruce Boudreau classify Thedore’s performance?
“I classify it as we’ve got to be better defensively. He did make big when he had to make big saves, but holy schmoly – both teams loose in front of the net. We had a couple of slam dunks that we missed and they had a couple they missed. It was a question of who was going to get the last shot. They scored four of their goals within 10 feet of the net. Our defense has got to do a better job.”
Dallas coach Dave Tippett also was, um, less than pleased with his team’s effort.
“The goals against is a joke right now,” Tippett said. “There are a lot of guilty parties out there. You have to evaluate your personnel, how they are playing, who is making mistakes. It is not the way we do things around here, to have to score seven goals to win. Our young guys aren’t the problem, we have flaws in some veterans we expect more from. Our goaltending hasn’t been very good. It’s great to get the point but if we keep playing like this, there won’t be a lot of points.”
A quick Tom Poti update before getting to some other game stuff — I talked to him after the game and he said his groin injury is coming along, but slower than he hoped. He said trainer Greg Smith told him this type of injury, usually takes two weeks and today was Day 8. He’d like to play Tuesday against Nashville, but with that timetable it sounds like Buffalo or Ottawa is going to be more realistic.
Other post-game stuff:
*Tomas Fleischmann had two goals, and just missed on a couple of others. After no points in three games, what was the difference?
“We only scored two goals in two games, so it is not just, ‘I can’t score.’ You just have to keep working hard and put the puck on the net. That’s what I was told before the game. [He said], ‘Shoot it, shoot it. If you don’t know what to do with it, just shoot it.’ “
Added Boudreau: “Flash, when he shoots it opens up his shiftiness. He should have had four. He missed two empty nets – maybe the thought of getting three was too much for him. He played a great game, but when he shoots, it opens up everything else for him.”
*Sergei Fedorov had two goals to give him 475 for his career, two more than Alexander Mogilny for the most by a Russian-born player. He and Alexander Semin both had great games, and that happening with them on a line together was probably not a coincidence.
“Yeah,” Boudreau said. “Semin has got that shot, and when it is accurate it is pretty tough to stop. … [With Fedorov], that’s what leadership brings to the table. He was a calming influence on the bench, and we needed it. When a team is not used to losing a couple of games in a row – and I don’t think we are – we start to panic. Everybody did, and he was a calming influence on the bench.”
*Fedorov is the highest-scoring Russian of all-time, but the highest-scoring American (Mike Modano) upstaged him a three-point night and the tying goal in the last minute of regulation. He looked like vintage Modano, beating Viktor Kozlov to set up the first Stars goal and picking off an ill-advised drop pass at the blue line to start the rush on Dallas’ third goal.
*Tyler Sloan nearly made a very costly gaffe, but made up for it at the other end of the ice. He went for a knockout hit on Loui Eriksson and whiffed, but seconds later he was standing in front of the Dallas net and was able to bang home a rebound from a Viktor Kozlov shot.
“I think he didn’t want to come to the bench because I was screaming for him getting walked on the original rush,” Boudreau said. “That is one of his great attributes is his legs. He’s got great speed and he went [to the net] and was assertive. I was very happy for him.”
It was nice to see Sloan pot his first NHL goal and before Modano’s pseudo-heroics, it would have made a great lead for a story, but the days before he returns to Hershey are probably numbered. IT wouldn’t shock me if Sami Lepisto is called up before Poti is healthy.
*While his two linemates combined for five points, Chris Clark did not get to play much and didn’t appear to make much of an impact. His 11:19 of ice time wasn’t much more than Matt Bradley or Donald Brashear got (although it should be pointed out that Michael Nylander only logged 12:19). Fleischmann got six more shifts than Clark, and Nylander had four more.
*Another night with no points for Alex Ovechkin, but he did appear to generate more open space for himself. He had four shots on net, and all four were qualtiy chances. The box score says he only had two attempts that didn’t reach the net, but the reality is he had like five or six. It could also be troubling that in such a wide-open contest, he wasn’t able to collect an easy one around the net. His line didn’t have the best night in its own end either, but Marty Turco did make a couple of great saves to keep him off the board.
*Your NHL scoring leaders are a pair of Russians — one plays for Pittsburgh and the other Washington — they are Evegeni Malkin and … Alexander Semin, who now has seven goals and 14 points.
*The Dallas Stars, annually one of the best defensive teams in the league, have yielded 38 goals in nine game. Yikes. I feel bad for those newspapers that predicted the Stars would win the Western Conference this season. (Wait, this one did? Oh … um … crap.)