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Preview: Bleatings From a Caps Nut

Bleatings From a Caps Nut

A perspective on the Washington Capitals, the NHL, D.C. Sports teams, and the world of sports in general from a barely hinged observer.

Updated: 2018-03-06T04:58:54.815-05:00


All Good Things...


If one believes the time stamps on these posts (and in the beginning, we didn't quite know how to manipulate them) it was exactly four years ago at this time we published our first post kicking off this adventure.  Call us sentimental but we can't think of a more perfect date and time to bring things to a close after four years and 1,428 postings. Yep, that's right, we're calling it a quits here.  Why?  Well, if it hasn't too obvious, we just don't have the time or the temperament anymore to run this thing the way we feel we should.When we started this blog four years ago, we didn't have much responsibility, especially at our day job, and needed something to help fill-in the time and direct our energy.  Four years later we have actual responsibility in our career and not only do we want to keep it that way, we want more.  So something had to give and while we did consider the idea of turning this into a group effort or maybe possibly petitioning to be a contributor to another group effort; we've demonstrated many times and in many forums that we just don't play well with others.  Therefore it is time for us to hang it up.And is there any sadness in this decision?  No, not really.  We're proud of what we've done here.  Chronicling the insanity of Larry Brooks, taking stands against Ultimate Fighting on Ice along with blogger access to press boxes, and insulting Yinzers and Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Lowblow Cindy Crosby at every opportunity.  Oh, and laughing at the denizens of Darwin's Waiting Room and their old daycare provider too was always a hoot.  Furthermore, with the 15,487,920,325 (and counting) active Caps blogs out there, we feel that the field is well covered.  Besides, we've seen the site traffic numbers, we know we won't be missed.The one thing that does disappoint us is that after chronicling this team during the lean years when the team stunk to the high heavens and was really tough to watch; we're now getting out when the team is really, really good and a Stanley Cup is on the way.  But that's just our lot in life and we can only play the hand that we're dealt.  In some ways, we think we'll get to enjoy the Cup more because we well just be a fan and not somebody trying to divine some larger meaning in all of it to share with the rest of the world.We'd like to thank all the folks who took the time to stop on by on anything that even remotely resembles a regular basis and all the other folks out there who threw links our way over the years, even if they were eventually deleted.  We also would be very remiss if we didn't throw a shoutout of Thanks to Eric McErlain whom we've never met in any fashion yet gave us link after link on his Venerable Off Wing Opinion early on and helped us to build a following.  We'd also like to Thank Steinbog for reaching out to us in the early days of this blog and for continuing to put up with us.  If you want our opinion of where to look now with the extra five minutes of your time, spend it on Peerless Prognosticator, outside of TEB he's the only one we make a point to read on a regular basis mostly because he's kept his senses, remembered what a blog is supposed to be all about, and doesn't take himself or his craft way too seriously.   So that's it folks, it's been fun.  We'll let Google decide when to take this thing down, and if you want to know what we really think about things as they come along in the future, check out our Facebook profile.  It shouldn't be too hard to find.  We accept any and all friend requests over there and when the mood moves us, we'll post our pithy thoughts over there.  Farewell, so long, Godspeed, Alpha Michael Foxtrot, and all that jazz. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, we did activate the comments this morning on purpose because we were closing this thing down.)[...]

Sunday Smorgasbord 7-11


Well, well, well...  It looks as if the last time we spoke about the Albert Haynesworth situation, we spoke too soon...  (So what else is new???)  For a guy who had the cards on his side, he played them about as poorly as anybody ever could.  To reiterate, had Hanyesworth shown up for training camp in the best shape of his life, he would have put Mike Shanahan in a no-win situation.  Instead Haynesworth decided to skip the mandatory part of the off-season workouts and demand a trade at the same time.  The biggest sign that Haynesworth has conceded the high ground here?  The unloading on him by just about everybody not only in the Redskins organization but in pro football.  The funny part is though, while the Redskins are certainly justified in their feelings towards Haynesworth, it dramatically lowers his value in any trade they try to make, though it is very debatable how much trade value he ever had in the first place.  Either way, Haynesworth has played this situation about as poorly as he could and if he were smart, not only would he show up for training camp in the best shape of his life, but he would also refuse to speak to the press upon arriving and until he leaves the Redskins.  But based on past performance, we don't think that will happen here.And speaking of hard feelings, we give kudos to Cleveland Cavaliers Owner Tom Gilbert for basically saying what should have been said about the whole LeBron James Free Agency search.  We don't think his championship guarantee is smart but we do agree that James' narcissistic actions were repulsive.  However, James was not alone in this entire affair.  The Worldwide Leader in Schlock is just a culpable in building this guy up and covering his every move in free agency, even when he wasn't doing anything to say nothing about devoting an entire evening to him.  Sadly however, we think that this is just the beginning for this type of thing.  These kinds of "announcements" and "recruiting trips" are common for High School Athletes choosing which college they will play for and attend.  Some tried to use the fact that James never went to college and was never really recruited by colleges as a high schooler to equivocate his actions now as a pro.  We aren't buying it because the next time something like this comes around, it will be considered a part of the business and few will bat an eyelash at it.And effective this past Friday, the University of Maryland was relieved of Deborah Yow as it Director of Athletics.  While Debbie's contributions to the Athletic Department cannot be dismissed or disputed, it was clear last year that when she lost her second major power play against one of her high-profile employees in a year that she was on her way out.  The failure to oust Gary Williams and Ralph Friedgen tarnish an outstanding run at UMD for Debbie who has now returned home to North Carolina to take over the N.C. State Wolfpack Athletic Department.  Debbie's legacy would have been cemented had she stepped down "looking for other challenges" after the Women's Basketball Team won the NCAA Title in 2006.  However she hung on too long and is heading down to tobacco road with her tail between her legs.  At least she doesn't need to invest in a new wardrobe.Well the Free Agent Frenzy in the NHL came and went and some ugly contracts were handed out.  The Caps stayed largely on the sidelines because there was no reason to hand out three-four year contracts that got a bunch of hearts in a twitter but rarely, if ever, accomplish anything.  However, we do wonder why after the failure of the Michael Nylander and Brendan Morrrissonn contracts why many Caps fans automatically declare the 2010-2011 a complete and utter failure because the Caps haven't signed a free agent of note.  Just to recap, last season the Caps won the Southeast Division by 38 points, that is six more points than the rest of the Division Champions combined.  The Caps w[...]

Sunday Smorgasbord 6-13


Well, if there's big news we need to catch up on, it is the Redskins going out and acquiring Donovan McNabb for a pair of draft picks, including this year's second round pick.  Put us in the unimpressed camp for a number of reasons.  We've always thought that McNabb was slightly overrated as quarterback.  He was able to dominate a down NFC East when the NFC as a whole was underwhelming.  But while Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan set about to rebuild the offensive line, Trent Williams is a nice start but unproven and only 1/5 of the solution,  it doesn't matter who is playing quarterback for the Redskins because they won't have the proper protection from the offensive line.  Jason Campbell was unfairly scapegoated though he won't get a chance to prove that out in the even bigger zoo in Oakland so we just have to watch McNabb getting driven into the ground in order to prove the point.  Furthermore, even if McNabb is as good as advertised and able to overcome his bad offensive line, it doesn't change the fact that the Redskins are going to run a 3-4 defense with 4-3 personnel.  Good coaches adapt their systems to their talent, not their talent to the system and that also says nothing of the broken-down retreads in the backfield with McNabb.  Our official prediction, the Redskins will be lucky to finish 8-8 this season and anything better than that is wildly exceeding our expectations.And speaking of wildly exceeding expectations, how about this Steven Strasburg kid?  He certainly lived up to the hype on Tuesday night, a game we missed because real life intervened (and no, we're not complaining), and despite struggling with a crummy pitcher's mound today in Cleveland, is off to a 2-0 start in the Majors.  So while the Nats themselves continue to exceed expectations, hovering around .500 despite a June Swoon, the question becomes, how much will the Nats rely upon Strasburg for the rest of the season?  In an attempt to prevent injury and guard against burnout, everybody knows that he has a strict limit on the number of innings he is going to pitch this season so should the Nats end up contending for a playoff spot, he is not likely to be available to get the team over the hump.  That more than anything else is why we think the idea of the Nats being buyers at the trade deadline is foolish.  But at least we once again have a baseball team worth watching.No we didn't forget about Albert Haynesworth in the first bullet.  We just liked the exceeding expectations segue too much to pass it up.  But as for Haynesworth, we agree that if you're going to pay somebody that amount of $$$$$ the least he can do is show up for the season in shape.  However, if you're going to call team activities, "optional" then you cannot require that everybody takes part in them.  Furthermore, we reject the notion that just because a guy is the highest paid player on the team, that he must be some sort of leader.  Giving a guy $$$$$ doesn't make him a leader, it is his actions and, most importantly, his personality that gets people to follow him.  But we digress, the ball is firmly in Haynesworth's court now.  He MUST show up for training camp in the best shape of his life.  If he doesn't then he's as good as gone.  If he does, he presents a difficult dilemma for Shanahan in that Haynesworth showing up in fantastic shape without attending the mandatory optional workouts would undercut Shanahan's authority who is a noted taskmaster.  But if Haynesworth shows up in shape and dominates, Shanahan has to cut off his own nose to spite his face to maintain his authority.  That's the real dilemma to watch for here.And once again the World Cup is upon us and in international soccer, more so than hockey, it really does come down to goaltending.  There was no bigger example of that than yesterday as Tim Howard made a number of timely and big saves for the United States as Robert Green c[...]

2009-2010 Caps Season Wrap-Up Part III The Forward Ranks


All right, let's keep the train rolling...Nicklas Backstrom: A+, He shattered his career highs in points and goals this season.  Ok it was only his third NHL season but he established himself as a top level player in the NHL and handled things much better in the playoffs this season than he had in his first two.  His Game 2 Hat Trick was a testament to that.  The pressure is really on Backstrom now because he's now locked up for the next ten years and will be expected to perform at this level if not higher for all ten of them.Eric Belanger: C+,  The one deadline day acquisition that the Caps will at least attempt to keep.  He had a hard time fitting in with the Caps after the trade primarily because he kept bouncing between the second and third lines but given his style of play, could be the center for a true third line checking unit should he stay in D.C.  His arrival also helped to improve the Penalty Killing a little bit.Matt "Omar" Bradley: B+,  A career year for the 31 year old fourth liner who set career high marks in goals, assists, and points this season, besting his previous totals which all came in his rookie season.  His ice time diminished after the trade deadline as the Caps picked up players much more willing to go to the front of the net than Omar is.  He has one more year left on his contract and plenty of players in Hershey behind him on the depth chart making this upcoming season huge for him.  He may not finish it here in D.C. if he doesn't build on the numbers he put this past season.Jason Chimera: C+, Acquired in late December for the former team Captain Chris Clark along with Milan Jurcina, Chimera had trouble adjusting to Bruce Boudreau's style of play.  However he did eventually catch on and could be a useful checking line winger because he just doesn't have a goal scoring touch.Eric Fehr: B-, No other player is abused by Boudreau as much as Fehr.  He posted career highs across the board this season despite constantly being yanked, sat down, and scratched for his defensive miscues.  Fehr also got on the scoreboard in the playoffs this year, scoring three goals and an assist in the seven games after just scoring one goal in his previous 14 playoff appearances.  Which of course means he'll be a healthy scratch for opening night...  Fehr is an RFA and expect the Caps to make a move to protect his rights.  If Fehr is smart he'll elect arbitration to force the Caps to keep him or move him.  Either way, we hope he can continue to show his improvement as we think he'll be needed on the top lines at some point in the next couple of years.  At age 24, he's nowhere near tapped out on his potential.Tomas Fleischmann: C-, Fleischmann is easily the second biggest enigma on the team.  Here's a guy whom Boudreau absolutely loves and is only 26 years old.  He set career marks for goals, assists, points, and even finished as a plus player for the first time in his career this season.  Yet when the chips are down and the pressure is on, he's nowhere to be found.  3 goals, 2 assists, and 5 points in 22 playoff games are a testament to that and even Boudreau had finally seen enough, scratching Fleischmann for Game 7.  Fleischmann had just one assist in this year's playoffs and it came in Game 2.  In an attempt to finally get him going, he was tried at center on the 2nd line but that experiment failed miserably after a promising start.  Simply put, there's really nowhere this guy fits on this team. He posted some nice career numbers this year which should help him as an RFA but the Caps need to look into trading him now while he's got a high value and a somewhat reasonable salary going forward.  He's great from November through February but the Caps really need somebody who can get it done in April, May, and June and Fleischmann can't.Boyd Gordon: INCOMPLETE,  Gordon's season was derailed by a bad back th[...]

2009-2010 Caps Season Wrap-Up Part I I Defense and Goaltending


FYI, a skater has to be on the NHL roster for half the regular season or 3 playoff games to qualify for this review.  We're going to review all three goaltenders though.Joe Scorvo: C,  A deadline pick up who has already been told not to expect an offer from the Caps and won't be back next season.  We're not surprised that he isn't being retained but we are disappointed by the decision.  He could have been a quarterback on a second Power Play unit but was hardly ever given the chance.  But at the end of the day, the Caps have a log jam on the blueline and a guy without a contract for next season is the easiest one to get rid of.John "Coach's Pet" Erskine-Bowles: C-, If the deadline deals made by General Manager George McPhee did anything positive, it meant we didn't have to watch the Coach's Pet in the playoffs.  Though to be fair, with plenty of health scratches this season and a much reduced role, Erskine-Bowles really shouldn't have that moniker anymore.  He's got a contract for next season at $1.25 million and could be a candidate for a buyout, but we're not counting on it.Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green: B+,  One of two whipping boys for the Caps defense who is actually better than most people think, both in his all-round play and defensive capabilities.  He's not a stud in his own zone and we doubt that he'll ever be, but he has two problems that need to be addressed pronto.  #1, He tries to do too much in his own zone.  That more than anything else gets him into trouble.  If he stays within himself he's more than capable of getting the job done.  It is when he tries to make the big play or steps out of his character that he gets into trouble in his own zone.  #2.  He simply doesn't handle pressure very well.  It's clear that the criticism from the stands, press, and various brass gets to him and so he goes out and tries even harder to prove them all wrong.  If he wants to improve and prove all of his detractors wrong, he needs to relax and let things come to him rather than trying to create everything on his own.Shaone Morrrissonnn: C,  Well, for a guy playing on a one-year deal hoping to hit the UFA jackpot, he came up short.  We can easily see the Caps letting him go if any kind of bidding war for his services start but we don't think that's going to happen so the Caps aren't likely to move towards giving him an offer until after July 1st.  His numbers this year were average for him and quite frankly, there is much about him that stands out.  If the Caps can get an upgrade anywhere, he would be a guy left out in the cold.Tom Poti: C+,  We're beginning to understand why the New York fans hate this guy so much.  For a guy with a reputation of being a smooth puck handler, Poti commits some of the ugliest turnovers you have ever seen.  Yet Poti is considered one of the better players the Caps have in the defensive zone.  But as the season wore on he made some huge and costly gaffes and then took a puck in the eye in Game 6 which ended his season.  Poti will be next season's Brian Pothier, a veteran player at the end of his contract that McPhee dangles and trades at the deadline for additional depth.  While his $3.5 million cap figure could make that harder than it was with Pothier and his $2.5 million, Poti likely has just one more season left in Washington.Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz: A,  The most favored whipping boy of Caps fans, Sarge finally started to put it all together this season.  You don't lead the entire NHL in +/- by accident folks.  Does Sarge need to work on his defensive game?  Yes.  Does he need to get better with the puck on his stick?  Yes.  Should he hit a little more?  Yes, but that's never been his style so don't expect him to turn into the next Scott Stevens.  Lost in all the complaining about Schultz is his young age.&nb[...]

2009-2010 Caps Season Wrap-Up Part I


Well, the Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways...  As disappointed as we were with the Caps untimely demise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, it turned out for us, and maybe the Caps too, to be a blessing in disguise.  With everything that has gone on in our personal and professional lives since Game 7, we have a hard time wondering just how in the world we would have been able to keep up if the Caps had advanced further and further into this year's playoffs.  And the time way has given us a chance for a little less emotional perspective on the season which is always good.

#1.  If we learned nothing else about this team, it is that it peaked too soon this season.  That and nobody in their right mind could predict what happened in the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season.  The top 3 seeds all went out in the first round and seeds 7 and 8 faced off for the Conference Finals.  That does not happen very often , so not only were the Caps not alone in the unmet expectations department, it was just a fluky playoff year.  Maybe next year the Caps won't try to push so much out of the regular season.

#2.  Bruce Boudreau is going to have to change his style.  No we're not calling for a switch to the trap and a totally defensive oriented mindset.  However the run-and-gun style he's installed is detracting from the defensive system he is trying to use.  Maybe it is that maturity factor creeping in again, after all the oldest of the core players is just 26 years old.  But Boudreau also has to stop playing favorites among certain players and punishing others when they have bad games/mistakes.  The first round disaster was not Boudreau's fault alone but he bares a fair amount of responsibility with the way he manages the lineup.

#3. George McPhee's to-do list has grown.  Part of Bourdeau's lineup issues stems from the fact that he's doing the best he can with what he has.  The Caps have a superb top line, a second line that would be the top line on half of the teams in the NHL (in spite of the lack of a true second-line center)  one that you could designate as 1-B.  A third line that plays more like a second line and one of the better fourth lines in the NHL.  But what this season and playoffs exposed was the lack of a true third-line checking unit.  In addition to finding a center for the second line and a top-drawer, physical, stay-at-home-defenseman;  McPhee needs to give Boudreau the proper tools to build a third line checking unit.  This is something that the Caps have lacked since the Halpern-Konowalchuk-Dahlen unit was broken up.

Overall, there are still bright days ahead for this franchise.  Yes, tweaks need to be made but a total and complete overhaul is not needed.

For The Record...


San Jose in six.

Montreal in seven.

We're working on a Smorgasbord that we hope to have up later today.

Game 7 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-28-2010 Wrap Up


The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post: upended, no shock, back in the lineup, just how good, all kinds of

The Neutral Observers: Recap, spoiler, not happy, yet another bad call, moves paid offAP WireCanadian

The Other Side:

Montreal Gazette: Penguin Scum next, playoff hockey, four wins, paid the

Final Thoughts:

We'll do our usual season-ending things in the coming days and weeks but we do want to note to Tracee Hamilton that Captain A.O. was complaining of fatigue and often skips the optional skates because of the intensity in which he plays with whenever he's on the ice whether it is a game or a practice.  The team has often held him back for his own good.  As for some of the other players who didn't get the job done in the first round, "truth day" will give us more insight as to what went wrong in Round I.  But we want to say right now that San Jose East this is not.  While there are reasons to worry going forward, there are also reasons to be optimistic and we'll get into those reasons why later.

Finally, since the NHL isn't taking a day off before starting the second round; Penguin Scum in six, Boston in six, Detroit in six, and Chicago in seven.

Game 7 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-28-2010 Post-Mortem


Well, at least we still have their baseball team...We can't say were all that surprised right now.  We don't know what it is but there's just something about this franchise.  If it isn't a hose job or a freak injury or a bad bounce or who knows what else, then this franchise just can't seem to get out of its own way.  How else do you explain the blown playoff leads and the 2-7 record in Game 7, 2-6 at home?  We knew the shoe was eventually going to drop on us, it always does.   But congratulations folks, we're not only the first #1 seed to blow a 3-1 lead to a #8 seed but we gave Jacques Martin his first win ever in a Game 7.The seed for the loss tonight was first planted back in late January-early February when the Caps went on that magical 14 game winning streak.  Simply put, this team peaked way too soon folks.  Remember all those lists of NHL teams with long winning streaks during the regular season?  The most recent team to win the Cup was the Islanders from back in the 1980's.  That wasn't a good sign for us as we racked up the wins that pulled us away in the Eastern Conference and President's Trophy race.  That seed was then given a good fertilizing when it was Montreal who broke the 14 game winning streak.  Interesting isn't how the team who put an end to our epic winning streak put an end to our season?  Coincidence?  We think not.While the series was formally lost tonight, it was really lost last Friday when the Caps blew Game 5.  The Caps, as usual in this series, fell behind 2-0 before starting to score.  Despite cutting the deficit in half early in the second period, it was with about 5-6 minutes left that the Caps seemed to pull up.  They realized that in order to win Game 5, they'd likely have to play Overtime for the fourth straight game at home and seventh time in the last ten home contests going back into the regular season.  So the Caps figured, "hey, we've got two more chances, lets save it."  Instead they gave Montreal life and the confidence that they could pull off the upset that they did.And here's the thing about tonight that mystifies us.  Of the Game 7's the Caps have played, this was by far their best performance.  Even better than the 2 wins.  That's not say that there were no mistakes made tonight.  Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green takes a stupid penalty in the first period that leads to Montreal's first goal after the Caps had been dominating the first period.  Green then decided to play the man instead of the puck late in the third and the Caps end up down 2-0 for the fourth time in the series as a result.  The Caps for the most part stopped hitting after the first period too and we don't know why.Silly us too thinking that because the Caps are now considered a "marquee team" that they would be given a little assistance onto the Second Round.  Not once in this series did the Caps have to deal with either Bill McCreary or Paul Devorski.  But we're glad to see that two years since Game 7 against the Flyers that the league is trying to do something about goaltender interference.But before we wrap this up let's give credit to Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens.  Halak played another great game tonight and the team in front of him blocked almost as many shots, 41, as the Caps got on goal, 42.  Montreal had blocked 26 shots heading into the third period.  You do the math folks.  However, we won't be the least bit surprised if the Penguin Scum shred him for 6 goals on 10 shots on Friday night.  That's just how it is for the Washington Capitals.Finally we know this is mostly wishful thinking, but we hope we don't have to hear from players, coaches, General Managers, and Owners about how disappointed they are.  About how upset t[...]

Game 7 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-28-2010 Preview


Series A: Washington Capitals (57-31; 121 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Montreal Canadiens (42-46; 88 points; 4th Northeast Division, 8th Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):Caps Playoff Game #7, Home Playoff Game #4, NHL Playoff Game #117Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WJFK 106.7-FM. Montreal TV: None. Radio: CJAD 880-AM.  U.S. National TV: Versus.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RDS (French).Tonight the Caps once again host Game 7 of a playoff series.  This will be the 9th Game 7 in team history and the Caps have hosted all but 1 of them.  However, the Caps have only won 2 of the previous 8 single elimination playoff games in franchise history with the two wins coming on home ice.What The Natives Are Saying:(Com)Post: now the injuries hit, trying to avoid the Whammy.  Examiner. Preview, under pressure, lineup change, longer than expected.  AP Wire.  Canadian Press. Source Intelligence:Montreal Gazette:  on a roll, what to do? 5 Keys, down to one.What Do We Expect Tonight:Well folks for the Caps to avoid elimination yet again there are a few things that they need to do; first of all, whoever Bruce Boudreau goes with in goal tonight is going to have to come out on top of their game from the start.  The Caps can't fall behind even 1-0 lettalone 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the game like they have in Games 2, 5, and 6.  As a matter of fact with Halak stopping just about everything right now, Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov or Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore are probably going to have to pitch a shutout for the Caps tonight.  Secondly, the Caps need to put the glove on Mike Cammelleri.  With the exception of Game 4, when he's scored a goal, the Canadiens have won.  So stop him from scoring goals and the Caps can win.  The Caps also need to get back to pounding the Canadiens all over the ice.  They did that in Games 1-4 and built a 3-1 lead but stopped doing that in Games 5 and 6 and are 0-2.  Get the puck in deep and get the forecheckers into the corners quickly and Montreal will turn the puck over.  When it comes to Halak however, the Caps need to go for quality over quantity.  Shots from beyond the faceoff circles especially need screens and the guys who are setting screens need to fight for the rebounds that come out.  And when the puck isn't shot from distance, the Caps need to crash the crease and work the puck to the front of the net.  Finally, let's admit something here, the Caps are one of the NHL's marquee teams.  Aside from some of the worst acting you've ever seen, there's a reason why Montreal was finally whistled an unheard of three times in Game 6 for diving after flopping around all series.  When the Caps are handed Power Plays tonight, they MUST take advantage of them.  This doesn't necessarily mean that the Caps have to score right away and on every Power Play chance, but they must use the Power Play to get their offense going.  The NHL needs the Caps in the second round and Hades, the third round to face the Penguin Scum because the NBC's contract is up next year.  Will this all come to pass, we have our doubts because we've been down this road before and there's just something about this franchise.Caps Nut Official Prediction:Caps 1Canadiens 3Winner by Gomez(3-3 in the playoffs, 50-40 on the season with two perfect games)[...]

Game 6 Caps @ Canadiens 4-26-2010 Wrap Up


The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post: coming back home, stopped cold, shot

The Neutral Observers: Recap, game changerAP WireCanadian

The Other Side:

Montreal Gazette: refusing to lose, busy night, starting to believe, big debut, more practice

Final Thoughts:

We posted the shot chart above to drive home our point from last night about the Caps taking too many shots from distance.  Only 14 of the 54 shots by our count came from in close and take a look at Joe Scorvo's shots.  He had a team high 10 shots on goal which included three from the neutral zone.  Again, we don't want to take anything away from Halak because he had an outstanding game, but the Caps have gotten away from the playoff style of hockey that they played early on in the series which is why we're now tied back up and heading into a Game 7.  Hopefully if the Caps back to crashing the net and pounding the Canadiens all over the ice, especially on the forecheck, the Caps can win Game 7.  But if they settle from shots from outside and don't do the dirty work that we've seen them do before, our spring will suddenly become a lot freer.

3 down, still 1 to go.

Game 6 Caps @ Canadiens 4-26-2010 Post-Mortem


Not where anybody wanted to be...  Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • Eric Fehr got a goal late.  It was too little too late for this game but it broke up the shutout because as bad as it is to be going into a Game 7 under these circumstances, it would be 100 times worse if Jaroslav Halak had pitched a 54 save shutout at us tonight.
  • Montreal has been flopping like fish out of water all series long trying to draw penalties.  Thankfully tonight Tim Peel and Dan O'Rourke were finally calling them out on it and whistled them three times for diving.
  • With all due respect to Halak who played an amazing game tonight, Caps added to their own frustration by pumping more and more shots at Halak without screens, without players in front ready to pounce on rebounds, and from distance.  Yes Halak robbed them stone cold on a number of occasions tonight but when the Caps did get players in front, the shots went wide.  When the Caps did get rebounds, hardly anybody was fighting for them.  Instead of taking the puck to the net and crashing the crease, the Caps were content to shoot from distance against a goaltender that was stopping everything.  It shouldn't be any wonder that he posted some of the numbers that he did tonight.
  • If you're wondering why Tomas Fleischmann isn't scoring look at his botched chance.  He had to make an extra move with the puck before shooting at a wide open net.
  • No way to sugarcoat it, Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov did not have a good game tonight.  3 goals allowed on 21 shots faced.  Bruce Boudreau would have pulled Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore had he gotten down 2-0 for the second consecutive game less than 10 minutes in.
  • The Power Play is more than a problem, it is an albatross around our necks right now.  0 for 6 tonight and the coup de gras is the big fat 0 shots on goal during a 1:15 5 on 3 in the first period.  The Caps badly needed a goal there to get back into the game but couldn't even muster a shot.  18 shots on goal otherwise but none of them mattered because none of them got into the net.
  • In addition to 54 shots on goal, 23 of them were blocked, and 17 missed everything.  That's 94 shot attempts tonight and only one goal.
So you're thinking what we're thinking, "He can't do this two games in a row right?"  Well, looking at his game log, yes he can because he has.  After facing the magic number of 45 shots, where he's undefeated, Halak is 4-2 in his next outing including the 6-5 overtime loss in Game 2 of this series.  Halak made 45+ saves in three consecutive games before yielding the one loss in the regular season.  He then made 45+ saves twice in a row before beating the Penguin Scum with just 18 saves on 21 shots.  So yes folks, be afraid.  Be very afraid about Wednesday night because this version of the Caps has not come out with a sense of purpose in any of their previous three Game 7's.

Game 6 Caps @ Canadiens 4-26-2010 Preview


Series A: Washington Capitals (57-30; 121 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Montreal Canadiens (41-46; 88 points; 4th Northeast Division, 8th Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):Caps Playoff Game #6, Road Playoff Game #3, NHL Playoff Game #116Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WJFK 106.7-FM. Montreal TV: None. Radio: CJAD 880-AM.  U.S. National TV: Versus.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RDS (French).Tonight the Caps take their second crack at closing out their series with the Montreal Canadiens when they head back to Montreal for Game 6.  This is the ninth time in franchise history that the Caps have had the chance to win a series in 6 games and the Caps have accomplished the task 5 times in their previous 8 opportunities.  All-time the Caps are 10-9 in Game 6 with a 7-6 record on the road.What The Natives Are Saying:(Com)Post.  Examiner.  Preview, believers, house of horrors.  AP Wire.  Canadian Press:  relaxing, improving.  ESPN.comOpen Source Do We Expect Tonight?:For some reason here recently the Caps seem to play better on the road in the playoffs than at home.  Maybe it is because the Phone Booth Crowd gets so wound up that the players get lost in it themselves.  Of course it would help if our opponents weren't allowed to send six skaters and a goaltender onto the ice for an extended period of time (Seriously, when is the NHL going to do something about its officiating crews?  The guys who work the playoffs are supposed to be the best of the bunch.) but that's too much to ask.  The Caps got caught a little flat footed on Friday night and we figure that won't happen again tonight because while the Caps didn't want to go back to Montreal, they certainly do want to go to a Game 7.  It would also help the Caps to score first tonight, Montreal really packed things in on Friday night after going up 2-0 and Halak plays much better with a lead than he does with a tie or trailing in the game.  Finally, while it would be nice to get the Power Play going tonight, we've already won 3 games in this series without it being much of a factor, we can probably get by without it being a factor tonight but the lineup changes from Bruce Boudreau will be crucial as typically new players in the Playoffs tend to inject more life into the lineup.Caps Nut Official Prediction:Caps 4Canadiens 2Winner by Semin(3-2 in the playoffs, 50-39 on the season with two perfect games)[...]

Round I Daily Report 4-25-2010


The Local Yokels:


The Neutral Observers:

AP Wire: powerlesshe's a hockey player.  Canadian Press: calmer approach, stop the streaking.

Open Source Intelligence:

Montreal Gazette: doing the job, tough

Today's Spin:

First of all, we hope that Bruce Boudreau goes against his own grain and benches Tomas Fleischmann as he really should.  Fleischmann, like Alexander "Slappy" Semin, should be having a much better series than he is against a soft Montreal team.  But unlike Slappy, Fleischmann isn't showing any signs of life and needs to sit.  However, we wouldn't be surprised if Eric Fehr gets yanked instead.  We know Fehr would have been demoted to South Carolina by now if he had been playing like Fleischmann has.

Finally, we finally found our oringinal post from where we first linked to an article from about teams getting too much rest after the first round.  Had the Caps won on Friday night, the would have had about six-seven days off before the start of the Round II on April 30th-May 1st.  Philly will have at least the magic number of seven days off, maybe eight if we don't start until Saturday night regardless.  However, because the Caps have to play tomorrow, the numbers now work in our favor.  We understand what Bruce is talking about in having short series along the way but you have a short series in the second, third, or fourth rounds too; it doesn't have to be in the first round.  And don't take this to mean that we want this series to go seven games, we want it to end tomorrow night.  We just don't think it is such a bad thing that we have to go six games because Boston and Vancouver had short first round series last year and both crashed out in the second.

Game 5 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-23-2010 Wrap Up


The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post: blown chance, reality check, individual honors.  Examiner: missed opportunity, power

The Neutral Observers: Recap, nerves of steelAP WireCanadian

The Other Side:

Montreal Gazette: stayin' alive, great goaltending, successful juggling act, No, not this year pal, got away with

Final Thoughts:

3 down, 1 still to go.

Game 5 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-23-2010 Post-Mortem


Some things never change... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • After giving up two early goals, Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov recovered with a solid performance to keep the game from getting further out of hand.
  • For the first time this season, the Caps Penalty Killers shutdown the Montreal Power Play.  The Caps were 6 for 6 tonight.
  • No way to sugar coat it, the Caps top line was on the ice for all three goals scored tonight.  If we had won 3-0 or 2-1, that wouldn't be a problem, but it is a problem when we lose 2-1.
  • We're not sure how it happened, but taking a Too Many Men on the Ice penalty with just over a minute to go is not a good way to finish off a game.
  • The Caps Power Play failed big-time tonight.  0 for 5 with 11 shots on goal.  We give Jaroslav Halak credit for making a big save on Alexander "Slappy" Semin in the third period.  But there was precious little fighting for rebounds on the Power Play tonight which is a cause for concern going forward.
  • As usual with a loss, we didn't bother listening to the Post-Game Show on the radio because we didn't want to hear what was being said about Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green.  We don't think Green's defending has been all that bad, it has been his puck handling as he seems to be once again succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs.  Some of it isn't necessarily his fault as he had some bad bounces but as long as he's not blowing defensive assignments, we can live with his play.  Other however are different story...
Well folks, we told you initially we just had a feeling that this would go a little longer than everybody thought.   We aren't too upset about this loss tonight though.  We remember reading last year that teams who wrap up their first round series in 4 or 5 games have a dismal record in the second round because the rest turns into rust with the long layoff.  The Caps can still close out this series on Monday night in six games and the earliest they would have to face Philadelphia is Thursday but much more likely on Friday.  So we're not too concerned about getting enough rest before facing the Flyers as long as the series ends on Monday night.  But we are concerned that talk of yet another blown 3-1 lead is going to start before there is a Game 7.  That is talk we don't need over the next two off days.

Game 5 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-23-2010 Preview


Series A: Washington Capitals (57-29; 121 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Montreal Canadiens (40-46; 88 points; 4th Northeast Division, 8th Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):Caps Playoff Game #5, Home Playoff Game #3, NHL Playoff Game #115Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WJFK 106.7-FM. Montreal TV: None. Radio: CJAD 880-AM.  U.S. National TV: Versus.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RDS (French).Tonight, the Caps look to close out their series with the Montreal Canadiens and confirm a date in the second round with the Philadelphia Flyers.  Game 5 has not been kind to the Capitals throughout the years.  The Caps are 8-18 in the pivotal game and 5-11 on home ice.  With a 3-1 lead and a chance to put an end to the series, the Caps are 2-6.What The Natives Are Saying:(Com)Post.  Examiner. Preview, 5 Keys. stuck in a fog.  AP Wire.Open Source Intelligence:Montreal Gazette:  nothing else to lose, staying home, not what they expected, put up or shut up. Do We Expect Tonight?:This current incarnation of the Capitals has a chance for the first time to eliminate a team before Game 7 rolls around.  And with we're brutally honest with ourselves, our performance in the three Game 7's for this bunch have been a little on the flat side.  But looking at the end other side of the coin here, Montreal has to be at their wit's end.  They've thrown everything that they can at the Caps and yet are still down 3-1.  We don't expect the Canadiens to lay down and die tonight (though it would be nice) because if they were going to, they would have done so in Game 4.  But should the Caps get rolling tonight and take a lead, it would be very advisable for the Caps to keep their heads up because Montreal could very well go the cheap-shot route knowing that there's nothing left for them to lose because in the last three games of this series they've lost their cool and have taken penalties that have put them further behind.  So is there anything to make us think that they won't do the same thing tonight facing elimination?  The biggest thing for the Caps tonight though is to demonstrate a killer instinct.  Teams that are on the brink find a way to stave off elimination and it is the mark of a good team to overcome that and put them away.  The Caps should know all about staving off elimination as they've done it seven times over the past three years.  However, just like Game 4, we think it is going to come down to the Caps being just too good for Montreal to get past.Caps Nut Official Prediction:Caps 4Canadiens 3Winner by Backstrom(3-1 in the playoffs, 50-38 for the season with two perfect games)[...]

Game 4 Caps @ Canadiens 4-21-2010 Wrap Up


The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post: big plays, big lead, Red

The Neutral Observers:  Recap, happy hard hatter, down in the dumps, getting shorty.  AP Wire.  Canadian Press.

The Other Side:

Montreal Gazette:  on the brinkno answercan't have him yetdon't blame Carey.

Final Thoughts:

We'll give credit here where credit is due, the Canadiens played much better last night than we thought they would and they played well enough to win the game.  However, even though last night's loss has to be rather devastating, we're no longer hearing any spin out of them about "being where they want to be,"  we don't expect them to roll over and die tomorrow night.

3 down, 1 to go. 

Game 4 Caps @ Canadiens 4-21-2010 Post-Mortem


Just too darn good...  Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • Jason Chimera has been a thorn in the side of the Canadiens all series long and tonight he comes up with the Game-Winning-Goal.
  • Mike Knuble with the back-breaking shorthanded knoal tonight, the second one for the Caps in as many games.  He added an empty-netter to help seal the deal late in the game for his second goal of the playoffs.  It's good to get him going as the second round and a probable date with the Flyers loom.
  • The Power Play finally busted their slump, while Captain A.O.'s goal was off the rush and not off any set work, we'll take it and run.  However, after getting setup in the offensive zone, the Power Play has to find a way to get more pucks to the net.
  • And speaking of Captain A.O., he and Nicklas Backstrom both rang up three points tonight.  It's becoming clear that these two alone are more than Montreal can handle.
  • Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov had an outstanding game tonight making 36 saves, 20 in the second period alone.
  • Tell us again why faceoff are so important?  The Caps won 36 faceoffs and lost 29 but were outshot 39-38.  Something doesn't add up.
  • Montreal scored yet another Power Play goal on us tonight, going 1 for 4.  So far it doesn't look like our penalty killing is going to cost us in this series.  But it is not over yet.
  • And while Alexander "Slappy" Semin lucked his way into an assist tonight for his first playoff point this year, we still don't think he's playing very well.
  • While the Caps had more Power Plays than Montreal, the officiating tonight was just awful.  First Joe Scorvo takes a blind-side hit from Maxim Lapierre that none of them saw despite the NHL's newest "crackdown."  Then Carey Price whacks Backstrom while Price was standing on the Montreal Bench after the last empty-net goal.  We're pretty certain that NHL Suggestion Book prohibits such actions but we doubt that either Lapierre or Price will face any kind of supplementary discipline nor any further mention of their actions.
Well folks, we're almost there.  We're one game away from getting about a week off before the second round begins and we can rest some players.  While tonight's game was not the best effort the Caps can muster, we happen to think that our problem is not defense, but focus.  There's no reason why other than losing focus that Montreal scored a third goal tonight.  The Caps just stopped playing but Dominic Moore didn't.  That was the biggest example of focus loss but there were other individual moments as well.  But a win is a win and the Caps are rolling along and now come home looking to wrap this series up quickly.

Game 4 Caps @ Canadiens 4-21-2010 Preview


Series A: Washington Capitals (56-29; 121 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Montreal Canadiens (40-45; 88 points; 4th Northeast Division, 8th Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):Caps Playoff Game #4, Road Playoff Game #2, NHL Playoff Game #114Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WJFK 106.7-FM. Montreal TV: None. Radio: CJAD 880-AM.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RDS (French).  NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic feed.Tonight, the Caps, with a 2-1 lead, look to take total control of their first round series with the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4.  The Caps are 14-15 All-Time in Game 4 with a 7-8 record on the road and an 8-6 record with a 2-1 lead in the series.What The Natives Are Saying:(Com)Post: powering up, American Idol, best in the business.  Examiner: simple strategy, keeping up abroad. Preview, stealing the show, power outage.  AP Wire.  Canadian Press. Source Intelligence:Montreal Gazette:  red meat, really bad idea, digging up old news, more changes in goal. going hard, 5 New Keys.What Do We Expect Tonight?:Well folks, we don't want to go too far in this but it is time for the Caps to get serious and go about putting away the Canadiens tonight.  Yeah, yeah we know that they need two more wins, not one, to close out this series but we're not buying this "calm, cool, and collected" act from Montreal.  They clearly blew a gasket on Monday night after the Caps got out to a 4-0 lead in the second period and they'll do it again if the Caps get out to any lead tonight.  There's no reason why Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov shouldn't get the start tonight and instead of absorbing the Montreal pressure for the first period, the Caps should look to grab an early lead tonight.  Carey Price is likely to be in net and he has shown that he can't handle the pressure of a playoff game in Montreal.  If the Caps can get out to an early lead tonight, the crowd will do a 180 turn on really come down hard on the home team making their meltdown all the more complete.Caps Nut Official Prediction:Caps 6Canadiens 2Winner by Backstrom(2-1 in the playoffs, 49-38 for the year with two perfect games)[...]

Game 3 Caps @. Canadiens 4-19-2010 Wrap Up


The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post:  second period blast, the sound of

The Neutral Observers: Recap, team effort, still not going there, keep composureAP Wire. : Canadian Press, who's next?

The Other Side:

Montreal Gazette:  sitting ducks, fell apart, maintaining focus, against all odds.

Final Thoughts:

The key here for the Caps is not to get overconfident.  Yes, they've got Montreal reeling but a bad performance in Game 4 makes this a longer series than many had wanted.

2 down, 2 to go.

Game 3 Caps @. Canadiens 4-19-2010 Post-Mortem


So much for the Montreal Home Ice Advantage...  Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • Brooks "and Dunn" Laich loses the face shield and picks up the game-winning-goal.  The only one the Caps scored from distance tonight.
  • Boyd Gordon returns to the lineup and gets a shorthanded goal to start all the scoring by taking the puck to the net and whacking away at it with some help from Mike Knuble.
  • Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov came up with his best game since getting injured back in December.  Now the goaltender controversy gets really interesting.
  • The Penalty Killers had some extra work tonight but ended up going a respectable 4 for 5 tonight.
  • Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green  and Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz both played much better tonight that they did on Saturday.  Pity that nobody will give either of them credit for it.
  • Though the Penalty Killers weren't perfect, they did blow the shutout in the third period with some lackadaisical play.  And the sad part is, it was the only time it happened during the game.
  • We're not surprised that Thomas Fleischmann has gone MIA, as a matter of fact we expected it and he as usual blew a prime chance tonight but Alexander "Slappy" Semin has to get on track.  Eric Belanger proved that Brendan Morrrissonn wasn't the problem on that line.
  • Not counting the 3 second Power Play, the Caps were 0 for 6 on the Power Play tonight.  Lots of nifty passing but only 5 shots on goal.
  • The Montreal fans classy as ever as the Frogs boo the Star Spangled Banner once again.
Well folks, the tide in this series has certainly turned.  Had you paid much attention to the pundits, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Caps were down 2-0 again and yet after tonight they're up 2-1.  Will the same wags who complained about the Caps defense and goaltending still chirp about it after tonight?  Somehow we doubt it but we also know that they won't give the Caps defense and goaltending any credit either.  Just 1 goal allowed, 27 shots on goal, and 16 shots blocked.  Those are pretty good numbers against anybody in the NHL Playoffs.  While Matt "Omar" Bradley's goal late in the third may be seen as running up the score, it helped to bring Carey Price down a notch after he had made 14 saves in the third period up until that point.  The Caps are likely to face him instead of Jaroslav Halak in Game 4 on Wednesday night and they will need to beat him more than 2 times on 23 shots.  The Caps haven't won this series yet, but they are clearly in control right now.

Game 3 Caps @. Canadiens 4-19-2010 Preview


Series A: Washington Capitals (55-29; 121 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Montreal Canadiens (40-44; 88 points; 4th Northeast Division, 8th Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):Caps Playoff Game #3, Road Playoff Game #1, NHL Playoff Game #113Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WJFK 106.7-FM. Montreal TV: None. Radio: CJAD 880-AM.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RDS (French).  NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic feed.Tonight, the Caps head to Montreal to play Game 3 of the series against the Canadiens.  The Caps are 11-20 in Game 3 with an 8-10 record on the road.  When the series is tied at 1-1, the Caps are 7-11.What The Natives Are Saying:(Com)Post: two-headed monster, there can only be one.  Examiner. preview, moving on.  AP Wire. Source Intelligence:Montreal Gazette: not going there, possible return, so far so good. Do We Expect Tonight?:You gotta love the playoffs with all the extra head games going on.  Captain A.O.'s comments about Jaroslav Halak does nothing else but shift the focus away from the Caps goaltending situation for a little bit.  Who Bruce Boudreau goes with in goal tonight will scrutinized from here till the cows come home no matter what the outcome is but at the other end, Halak has allowed 8 goals on 84 shots in the two games so far  Respectable numbers but after allowing 6 goals on 37 shots on Saturday night; there has to be creeping doubts about him too.  But for the Caps, we think Boudreau is going to go with Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov tonight in part to protect Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore from the crowd in Montreal.  The Saviour just hasn't been the same since his knee injury in December so the Caps are likely going to have to go all-offense, all the time in order to win the rest of this series.  And if the Caps can continue to get in Halak's face physically and mentally as they did on Saturday night, they should be able to outgun Montreal.  And if the Power Play gets going, this series will be lights out.Caps Nut Official Prediction:Caps 5Canadiens 3Winner by Captain A.O.(1-1 in the playoffs, 48-38 for the year with two perfect games)[...]

Game 2 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-17-2010 Wrap Up


The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post: big comeback, big game guy, energy

The Neutral Observers: recap, surprise win, A Real American HeroAP WireCanadian

The Other Side:

Montreal Gazette: tied back up, liked the goaltending, leaning to the

Final Thoughts:

So Montreal is feeling ok heading home after blowing a three goal lead and a one goal lead late in the game?  Why do we have a hard time believing that?  Furthermore, why is it that if Captain A.O. isn't scoring goals the pundits believe he isn't playing?

1 down, 3 to go.

Game 2 Caps vs. Canadiens 4-17-2010 Post-Mortem


Now it's on...  Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...THE GOOD:The Caps may have to call up another defensemen for Games 3 and 4 in Montreal because we have a hard time believing that Canadian Customs is going to allow John Carlson into their country tomorrow.  The Rookie notched his first playoff point and scored the game tying goal late in the third period.   We have to think that Brian Burke should have had him in Vancouver.Captain A.O. broke out of his slump tonight, 1 goal (assisted by Carlson), and three assists.  6 shots on goal (7 were blocked and 2 missed everything) and a monster 8 hits dished out.Nicklas Backstrom with the game winning goal just 31 seconds into overtime to cap off the Hat Trick.  His dish to Carlson wasn't too shabby either.THE BAD:The Power Play unit continues to struggle going 0 for 3 tonight.We said in the series preview that taking more than two penalties was playing with fire and Montreal scored on their third Power Play chance.  It almost cost us again.Alexander "Slappy" Semin gets himself demoted to the third line.  He hasn't been much of a factor in the first two games of this series.THE UGLY: Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz and his partner in crime Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green were on the ice for four of the five Montreal goals scored.  Sarge ended up -1 and Green even because they were on the ice for so many of the Caps goals.  They were the best defensive pair in the regular season and need to be the best defensive pair here in the playoffs.And let the goaltender controversy begin yet again.  Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore allowed two goals on two shots and Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov comes up with the win after making 19 saves on 22 shots.  Neither goaltender came up with any big saves and Bruce Boudreau has a tough decision to make as to who he starts on Monday night in Montreal.Well folks, you should know how much we despise fighting in hockey but we will admit that tonight's game turned when Tom Poti of all people had enough of Scott Gomez and got into a fight with him.  The Caps were down 4-3 at the time but really got going and tied the game up while Gomez was in the box.  Gomez was MIA last spring for the Rangers but he's been a problem for the Caps so far and getting him off the ice for five minutes was a huge boost to the Caps.  Now the sleeping giant has been awakened and Montreal has to be very, very concerned.  The Caps best players torched Jaroslav Halak tonight and there is clearly momentum in the Caps locker room right now.  And even if Montreal had won this game, they still would be concerned because while the Caps go their offense going - and we should note the three goals scored from in close including Captain A.O.'s where he dug in front of Halak to poke it in - the Caps can and will play better defense.  But for the next two days everybody is going to wonder who is going to take the net for the Caps in Montreal but the Canadiens cannot rule out a goaltender change of their own.[...]