Bruce Boudreau said the Caps were better tonight than they were yesterday in Atlanta, and he’s probably right. Washington certainly played well enough to win in the third period, but Dwayne Roloson turned aside 17 shots and carried his team to overtime.
Still, sloppy play let the Islanders hang around and when a young, scrappy team hangs around against a “great” team, they are going to work their butts off and that’s what happened.
If there a way to sum up the past two nights, it is this — the players weren’t all that upset about the effort last night but Bruce Boudreau was fuming. Tonight, it was the opposite — the players were pretty critical of their play, but Boudreau defended them, saying the team was better and getting 40 shots in the third game in four nights is a good thing.
Case in point, here’s Brendan Morrison on the recent play:
“We’re just having a difficult time playing a full 60 minutes,” Morrison said. “I think instead of worrying about the result, we need to worry about the process. I think a lot of times we play to the score, and that’s what gets us in trouble.”
This was also a great point by Morrison:
“I think the really good teams in this league — the great teams — they set the tone night in and night out,” Morrison said. “You don’t wait to see what is going to happen — you go out and dictate right from the get-go. I think too many times we get caught waiting to see how the game is going to go and see how they are going to react instead of just worrying about ourselves.”
That’s the rub with this team so far. The results have been there. On paper they are one of the best teams in the league. But anyone who watched Pittsburgh dismantle Montreal on Wednesday night and then the Caps the past two nights can’t have a lot of faith in Washington being able to beat them right now. Even a team like Buffalo that wasn’t expected to be great has been doing a better job of taking care of business against weaker teams.
Here’s a few more notes and thoughts from tonight:
* John Tavares is a keeper. He could have five points tonight, and instead of getting frustrated, he just kept going and made the biggest play of the night. Enjoy him, Long Island/Kansas City/Seattle/Las Vegas/Hamilton/Brooklyn — he’s going to be a good one.
* Tomas Fleischmann looked great in his second game back. He was always around the net, scoring two goals and just missing on a couple of others. If the Caps can find the right mix in the top two lines — Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin doesn’t look the part right now — and still have a guy like Fleischmann or Laich on the third line to add some added punch, the Caps offense is going to be even better.
* Tough night for Mike Green, but really it was just the one big gaffe. He was fine other that. Milan Jurcina stood out as a guy who was physical and made some nice plays when needed as well.
* As mentioned, Dwayne Roloson was huge in the third period. Gotta think he or Martin Biron will be an interesting trade chip in February, provided Rick DiPietro is ready at some point this season.
* Not Jose Theodore’s best night, but not a bad one either. That was part of the problem with the overall effort for the Caps. Yes, Theodore probably let in two that he wished he had back, but he also had to face way too many great chances from a team like the Islanders.
* Caps practice tomorrow at 11:30, and then Bruce Boudreau will sign his book afterwards at K-Plex. Should be an interesting turnout.