March 1, 2011

Tough One in Washington

For just over 59 minutes, the Islanders battled and held on for dear life. Nothing was getting past Nathan Lawson, and after a while you got the feeling that he was going to go all the way with the 1-0 lead Matt Moulson had given him.

With 47 seconds remaining, however it all came crashing down.

It figures that the Capitals can't score on a power-play, but they pull their goalie for a six on five advantage on cash in.

It was Brooks Laich once again. On Saturday I spoke highly of him here in this space, and how he's the type of guy many team's fans would LOVE to have. He was in the right spot at the right time, and got a nice pass that he was able to corral perfectly.

Alex Ovechkin has struggled this year, but every time he goes on a rush you still get that sick feeling in your stomach. Ovechkin's ability to pick the puck up in the defensive zone and gain as much speed as he does for a big body is simply amazing. But in that rush in OT, he made some of the Isles, like Frans Nielsen look completely silly. It's goals like this one that shows you why Ovechkin sill is one of the top players in the game, despite the "low" goal total.

I thought the Isles played well, but obviously the defense was very lose. Given what we've seen from Lawson so far, it's always safe to assume toe worst when any team gets as many shots in as the Caps did. But he stood tall, and made some really good saves. He was very alert and didn't leave too many pucks in the danger zones. The Caps did have a couple of nice chances, but either couldn't hit the spot or shanked the shots.

Michael Neuvirth, meanwhile, was great only when he needed to be. The Isles didn't test the Caps very much at all. He seems to do really well with the glove saves. we've seen it now for two games in a row. So the scouting report on him is to go anywhere but glove side.

The Caps finished the season series in a unique way, defeating a different Isles goalie for the fourth time (Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya the others).

The Islanders come right home and face a team battling for their playoff lives in the Minnesota Wild. They lost a tough one to the Chicago Blakhawks their last time out, so will come on their East trip looking to keep themselves right in the thick of things. Nicklas Backstrom has been outstanding in net for them for the last little while, so expect a solid performance in that department. After struggling to score at the beginning of the year, Martin Havlat has really picked things up. He's a guy to watch as far as the offense is concerned.

I always like seeing teams come in that we don't see very often, and I was high earlier this year when many folks weren't. This is a very underrated team that can't be taken lightly.


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