This was certainly an entertaining, disjointed, wild and unpredictable night at Wachovia Center. The Caps nearly snuck out of here with two points despite probably not deserving, but then again it is hard to say the Flyers earned their two points tonight, either.
Here’s a few thoughts on the evening before the drive back down I-95 to DC:
* The Caps took NINE minor penalties, inlcuding six in the second period. Six penalties in one period is tough to pull off. Two of the infractions were goalie interference calls, and both were pretty weak — odd that those were being called on the visiting team in this building since the Flyers are known for causing grief near the goaltender. Neither Chris Clark’s nor Brooks Laich’s were legit.
That said, most of the other stuff was. Three holdings (Boyd Gordon’s was a little dicey), two hooks, a high-stick and a cross-check — if it wasn’t clear to people before this season started that discipline was the biggest issue with this team, then it probably should be now. The Caps are pretty tough to beat 5-on-5, and they are going to light up goalies, but spending half the night at 4-on-5 is going to be a problem.
* This is the stat of the night: Five of the last six times Semyon Varlamov has put a Washington Capitals uniform he has allowed three goals in a period. — vs. Pittsburgh in Game 7, @ Buffalo and vs. the N.Y. Rangers in the preseason, and vs. Toronto and @ Philadelphia in the regular season. This doesn’t even include that Duchesne Cup disaster when he yielded nine goals.
The kid looks great for long stretches, but when they start going in … let’s just say it will probably be Jose Theodore on Thursday night.
Theodore, meanwhile, was pretty solid. The two goals he allowed he could hardly be faulted for. Tom Poti “cleared” the puck off him and the second was a second rebound by one of the smallest guys on the ice.
* Speaking of Poti and John Erskine, the new defense pairing was on the ice for FIVE goals against. They were a minus-2 plus the three PP goals allowed. Erskine was also in the box twice.
It is fair to speculate that either Brian Pothier or Tyler Sloan (or both) will be in the lineup Thursday.
* As for the good stuff, man this team can score some goals. Consider:
— Alex Ovechkin has five goals in three games. He needed 14 games to get to five goals last year (plus the two he missed). Ovechkin now has back-to-back-to-back three-point games.
He remains on pace for 246 points. That would be a record.
— Alexander Semin had his second straight two-goal game, and his first was a thing of beauty. Braydon Coburn is still looking for the puck after Semin’s toe drag.
Semin did have a bad turnover that led to Philadelphia’s fourth goal. He was not pressured along the right wall and needed to come up with a better effort to get the puck out. He didn’t, and Varlamov couldn’t squeeze Matt Carle’s softy from the blue line.
— Nicklas Backstrom somewhat quietly had a three-point night. I say somewhat because two of his assists were fantastic. That’s eight assists in three games for No. 19.
If you follow some guy named @cmasisak22 on twitter, you would have seen that guy say Backstrom was on his way to 100 assists … after the first game of this season. It certianly could be a possibility if he stays healthy.
— Before people start freaking out about Mike Green (no goals in three games!) he has two assists and was on the ice for four Caps goals tonight and only one against (Richards’ third). He also logged 28:23 of ice time — 29 more seconds than Chris Pronger.
As for a final thought, the Caps are 2-0-1 and have played two of the other three best teams in the Eastern Conference. On the road. And they’ve got 15 goals in three games. That’s a pretty good start to the season.