Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Back to Reality After Super Sunday [Capital Fanatic]

It was great to see the Caps get back into the win column yesterday but first, how about that Super Bowl? Wow, did the game ever get off to a quick start. If you were late to the party you missed Devin Hester taking the opening kickoff all the way for the touchdown. Easily the most exciting moment of the game. Unfortunately Hester doesn't play quarterback for the Bears as Rex Grossman was absolutely atrocious. His interceptions in the fourth quarter killed any chance they had of getting back into the game, giving Peyton Manning his coveted first Super Bowl title and the MVP in the process. It's was good to see such a deserving player finally come out on top. And as a University of Tennessee grad, it was nice to see the former Volunteer get the win. Now are you ready for some hockey?
  • The Verizon Center obviously wasn't ready for hockey yesterday. Can you believe there were five delays to fix the plexiglass around the rink? That's unacceptable and completely killed the flow of the game. The building has long been known for having a bad sheet of ice, but there is no excuse for the problems they were having yesterday.
  • The question has been brought up this morning by the Capitals Washington Post columnist Tarik El-Bashir about Richard Zednik. Should the Caps trade or keep the winger? The answer is clear. You make every opportunity to re-sign him, as this team is desperate for a veteran presence. Zednik likes the DC area and the team so a reasonable offer should get him to stay. If they decide to trade him, the only way you do it is if you receive a young player with tremendous upside that is ready to play in the NHL right now. The last thing this team needs is more draft picks.
  • Lawrence Nycholat was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game since the team acquired Milan Jurcina from Boston. It seems as though the fairy tale run has come to an end for Nycholat. Since flourishing when he was first recalled from Hershey, his play has gone down hill since as he was a -7 defensively in his last five games. It will only get harder for him to get back into the lineup as the team has been playing well on the defensive side since he has been out. Jamie Heward has stepped up his game as of late, and with the returns of Muir and Erskine down the road, it looks as though Nycholat might be sent back down to Hershey in the future.
  • This team was able to win in a shootout for the first time since April 15th of last season. It's hard to believe that with all the individual skill that this team has in Ovechkin, Semin, and Zednik that they cannot be a factor in shootout situations. But that was the case until yesterday as the Caps were 0-5 in those circumstances. The win was greatly needed as a confidence builder in this area.
  • The Caps power-play continues to be awful. Not only did they not threaten while on the man advantage yesterday, but they allowed a short handed goal just 27 seconds into the second period that threw away a period worth of solid defense. With the football theme of Sunday, I was screaming at the television for the Caps to decline each future penalty. They really need to rethink their strategy with the extra man, as having Semin on the point just doesn't seem to be working. Maybe Jurcina, who we have been told has a hard shot, should get more time there. It can't hurt to try.
  • Speaking of Jurcina, he has stepped right into the top defensive pairing on the team with Morrisonn and has played as well as we could have hoped. He has also led the team in ice time in both of his games with the team. Maybe he just wasn't getting the opportunity in Boston to show what he could do. Whatever it is, the trade is looking great so far. Hopefully this will be one of those trades we look back at a year or two from now and say, "What was Boston thinking?" And Jurcina will get a chance to take on his former team as Boston comes to the Verizon Center Tuesday night. He should have a little extra incentive to show his former team what he can do given the chance to play.
Ollie Kolzig has seen his playing time increase following an injury to his backup Brent Johnson. Earlier in the season, Kolzig was not asked to play in back-to-back games, but has been excellent as of late in these situations. Despite being 36, he looks to have a lot left in the tank. That's good news for the team as it will give their young promising goaltenders in Michael Neuwirth and Simeon Varlamov plenty of time to develop.

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