So, I've asked both Matt's here, but they're not sure either. I wanted to know if all of you wanted a really angry wrap. Because if you do, let me know in the comments, and I'll be happy to correct this and fake some anger for you . I can do that, being a professional writer and all. Because frankly, I'm not angry. Disappointed? Sure. But I'll try and persuade everyone to see the big picture here, and nothing other than Seabrook's World Tour of Bad makes me worry about April and May. Secondly, cast your mind back to last March. The Hawks stumbled for the first part then too, and had some niggling injuries and we all started to panic. They then ripped through the end of the month and April and you know where that story goes.
Today's game, started much to early, got off to a slightly interesting start when the man we all came to see got ejected. Did he deserve it? Most certainly. Do I think Ovechkin is a dirty player? No, I do not. Over exuberant for sure, and that occasionally lands him on the wrong side of the edge. I haven't scanned the comments, but I bet I would get short odds on some jackass proclaiming the Hawks will be better without Campbell. If 51 Phantom misses significant time, that's a real problem. The Hawks spent 50 minutes without two of the three d-men who transition them, who can push the play, and who make things happen in the offensive zone. That would lead to problems later. It will lead to bigger problems if Soupy isn't back soon. The Hawks need to constantly have someone on the ice who can get them going the other way, it's what their entire game is about. Here's hoping.
Oh, did I forget Toews's goal? I did, didn't I? Well, after another balls-up of a power play was abbreviated by a Ladd crosscheck, Hammer made a beautiful dish to Captain Marvel and he couldn't miss.
The Hawks power play continues to suck balls, and only scored on a 5-on-3 because the Caps were probably exhausted by then. Why they haven't figured out to switch the play from side to side to get the goalie moving is beyond me. Anyway, they were able to Forrest Gump another Toews goal for a 2-0 first lead.
In fact the first two periods were pretty ho-hum. I can only remember two, maybe three, tough saves Niemi had to make. The Caps looked like the team that played yesterday on the road. They looked for all the world a paper tiger. It looked better when Keith and Madden combined on a beautiful goal. Again, the Caps didn't look like they cared all that much.
But that's not the whole story, is it? Even the first five minutes of the 3rd looked pretty run of the mill. Then the walls caved in. Or did they? I didn't see either Hendry's or Fraser's penalty, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. But generally, high-sticking penalties boil down to nothing more than bad luck. Faced with a double minor and then a two-minute 5-on-3, the Caps still required two bounces to go their way. The first was a scramble in front where the puck was everywhere, and the second a rebound off the end boards after the Hawks had killed it all off. Sure, Bolland probably needs to have Backstrom's stick there.
The 3rd goal is the unacceptable one, where you're clearly just not concentrating, lose a battle on the boards and leave Eric Fehr all alone in the slot. After that, the Hawks looked the paper tiger out of gas. And why wouldn't they be? They played yesterday, down Hossa and Johnsson and losing Campbell. The 3rd kind of petered out, and 4-on-4 it was always going to be a struggle. Luckily, Seabrook managed to miss an open and net and then get walked by Backstrom for the winner. So at least we have that to bitch about.
To summarize, the game changed on bad luck and bad bounces. It wasn't a goalie issue. It wasn't massive defensive breakdowns. It wasn't a lack of scoring. I know the totals from the weekend look ugly, and maybe I'm guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid. But again, I didn't see anything this weekend that leads me to believe this team can't go where I want it to, and you do as well. And that's all that matters.
-Niemi was fine, just as Huet was yesterday. We were talking outside about this, but if Niemi is going to seize the playoff starting role from Huet, he's going to have to significantly outplay him. Today wouldn't be categorized as that.
-Versteeg was flying again, but every time he gets like this I'm just waiting for when he spills over the edge and reverts to country-stupid form that drives us all nuts.
-As perhaps his biggest fan, it pains me to say, but McClure is right about Dave Bolland. The Hawks need so much more from him, and he was invisible today, taking Sharp and Brouwer with him. This has got to change, and sharp-ish.
-Duncan Keith appears to be getting back to the play of earlier in the year, it's just a shame he's got a crash-test dummy for a partner right now.
-Hjalmarsson has an offensive game?
-I'm guessing this will send visiting Caps fans into an uproar, but I would welcome seeing this team in June again. They needed two penalties and some bounces, and a team down a man coming off a game yesterday before deciding to play. Maybe you can make the argument that they only needed one period, and maybe that's true. But I doubt it. Your size and depth is impressive, DC, but nothing that will have me quaking in the late-spring. Sorry.
PLAYER OF THE GAME