Thursday, December 01, 2011

Now That's Better - Penguins 2, Capitals 1

So what happened?

The Pens caught the Caps at the right time.  Washington doesn't seem to understand yet what to do for Dale Hunter.  They managed just 17 shots tonight against the Pens.  Part of the credit there goes to the Pens, but much of that is the Caps.  During one of the two power plays they had, no one wanted to get the puck to the net.  They have some big, physical guys up front (like Knuble, Hendricks and Chimera, not to mention Brooks Laich), but there was no real net-front presence, and when there was, there were no shots getting through.  Too much listless wandering with the puck.

For their part, the Pens played a terrific road game.  The Caps managed 11 shots during the second period and just 6 combined during the other two.  That was a great display.

Great job by the fourth line to get the critical first goal.  Horrible job by Vokoun in trying to prevent the winning goal by Kunitz.  Honorable mention on the "horrible" awards to your third star of the night, Alex Ovechkin.  He seems interested and engaged sometimes (like when he can hit someone), but disinterested at other times (like when trying to back check and not going hard enough).

Sid and Geno were pretty good, but the other guys stepped up, so they weren't really needed tonight.

These two points will have a nice feeling until Saturday.

Who scored?

Adams (2), Kunitz (9)

The Good?
  • The fourth line (Adams, Park and Asham) had several nice shifts, generating some good pressure offensively.
  • Simon Despres played in his first NHL game and recorded his first point (an assist on the Kunitz goal).  He was a +2 on the night and played well with Robert Bortuzzo.
  • The power play generated some nice chances.
  • Vokoun was sharp.  I thought he deserved one of the three stars for the game.
The Bad?
  • Ovechkin over-skated the puck on the last rush up the ice for the Caps.  He didn't make the effort to stop and start to stay onside.  It was symbolic of the problems he seems to be having - the attention to detail and extra effort when it's not a "hey look at me!" kind of play just aren't there consistently.
  • Niskanen missed touching the puck on an icing call that led directly to the goal for the Caps.  I know his stick was lifted, but he needs to know who is there and lean on the stick more to get the icing call. That's a bad way to see the puck wind up in the back of your net.
The Ugly?
  • John Carlson delivered what looked to be an elbow to the head of Matt Cooke as time expired.  There was no replay of the incident, so I couldn't tell how bad it was, but slowing it down from the long camera angle, it didn't look good.  If it was as bad as I think, Carlson could be in line for a phone call from Shana-ban.
Any Surprises?
  • I was surprised they called Despres up, especially given that Picard has played well for the Pens while he was up here, and he has much more NHL experience.
What's their record now?
The Pens are 15-7-4.

Who's next?
Another new coach on Saturday night, on the road against Kirk Muller and the Hurricanes.

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