Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: Caps pushed to the brink by Lightning, their own coach

By Finesse

[Check out our grades of the Pens forwards here, and the defense here.  Also, follow us on Twitter]

The Capitals are not eliminated from the playoffs.  Tampa has only won three games, after last night's 4-3 comeback win in Game 3.  That means nothing, unless and until they win four.  So to anyone rooting for Tampa, against the Caps, or trying to sound like a cable news show by calling a state before the election is over, you should stop.  You may get a more definitive answer tonight, so there really is no harm in waiting.

A few thoughts:

- Like any great leader does to inspire other people, Bruce Boudreau threw several of those other people directly under the ice cream truck.
  • He blamed Eric Fehr for Stamkos's tying goal: “It wasn’t a defensive lapse at all,” Boudreau said. “It was a bad clearing by Eric Fehr, and it went right to their player that gave it to Stamkos, who has a great shot.” 
  • “I thought a couple of the goals [Neuvirth] should have had,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But at the same time, when they got the lead, he kept us in the game.”
  • [Regarding too many men call] “Laich was playing defense and he came off the ice, and Semin went on and Carlson went on,” Boudreau said. “Carlson was supposed to go on. [Laich] got a puck in the mouth, 10 or 12 stitches.”
  • Boudreau added. “During the season, one out of two refs will tell you, ‘Well, I want him to get involved in the play before I call it. The other one will say, ‘No, as soon as he gets on the ice I’m going to call it.’ The rule is ambiguous to the coaches.”
  • “If you look at it, Malone is driving to the net and he pushes our player into our goaltender and he can’t kick out his right leg to make the save,” Boudreau said. “It’s a no goal, no penalty call. I don’t think it should have counted.”
But no excuses, right coach?

- Alex Ovechkin says that the Caps dominated Game 3.
“It’s kind of situation they have two chances, they score two chances,” Ovechkin said. “Again, I think we dominate them all game. Simple as that. And they just score their chances. They play solid game on defense, Roloson played again great, but it’s not over. It is what it is. So we’re gonna fight and we’re gonna win....Again, we make mistakes, and they used two mistakes and they scored.” 
And that right there explains the problem with Ovechkin.  He dominated Game 3.  He was outstanding, far and away the best player on the ice.  But the guys around him did absolutely nothing - Backstrom, Laich, Semin, Green, etc... (Knuble was awesome, but he always is).  Once Ovechkin can realize that he and the team are one entity, not two distinct entities that need to be evaluated separately, maybe the Caps can come back.  He is bearing an enormous responsibility - not only does he have to be great, he has to get the other guys to be great as well.  So far, he's one for two.

- Having said that, his quote sounds a lot like what we wrote about the Pens-Tampa series: the Pens played well, but the Lightning finished.  Maybe it's time that instead of critiquing the Lightning for "not playing well but finishing" we start giving them credit for "playing well because they are finishing."

- How can Boudreau seriously argue the Malone goal?  That's the definition of crashing the net, being physical, and getting a bounce.  If one of the Caps had done that, Boudreau would have smiled and eaten a cupcake.  Instead, he frowned and ate a cupcake.

- Michael Neuvirth is not the problem.  He's a very solid goalie.  But it says here that Boudreau will go with Varly in Game 4 because he cannot get through a playoff run without switching goalies, not because Neuvirth deserves to be yanked.

- Stamkos's wrist shot should be studied by physicists.

- Tampa's set of forwards is as deep as there is in the playoffs.  They have the top guys but their surrounding pieces -- Bergenheim, Malone, Downie, Purcell, Moore, Thompson, Adam Hall, etc. -- are playing outstanding.  It's imperative to get production from at least 3 lines in the playoffs, and the Lightning are right on track.

- Nashville lost to Vancouver in overtime, but the real loser was the Pens' White Out.  The Gold-Out was infinitely cooler.  I know it's asking a lot of a marketing department that thinks Cotton Eye Joe is cool, but let's switch it up in the Burgh please, ok?

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