There was a lot of talk after the Caps 3-2 loss in Winnipeg last night about a possible suspension for a Jets player and a stick-holding incident, but there were a couple of things that bothered me more than either of these because they were within the Caps control:
- Why was Troy Brouwer sent out to take the offensive zone faceoff at the start of the Caps PP with 2:22 remaining in the game and the Caps down a goal? The Caps lost the draw and the puck was cleared, ticking off the first 20 seconds or so of a PP with the game on the line. One reason for this, directly or indirectly, is the decision to scratch Jeff Halpern. It’s doubtful that Halpern, who is one of the top faceoff men in the league, would have been out because of the PP and the need for a late goal. However, him not being in the lineup pushes everyone up a spot on the faceoff depth chart that led to a winger, who took one other faceoff the entire game, on the dot at a crucial time in the game. Mathieu Perreault was also on the ice, and may have been tossed out before the CSN camera panned to the dot, but the fact that Brouwer was even put in that spot, whether being first or second choice, is questionable coaching.
- The Caps were rightfully upset with Mark Stuart for his high and late hit on Marcus Johansson in the 1st period. Unfortunately, we only came to find out after the game that the Caps were upset, since there was absolutely no visible response from the Caps during the game. Is this team aware that you don’t have to wait for a player to be traded to Montreal in order to respond to a dirty play on a teammate? The Caps and Jets meet again next Friday and there may be a response then, but why didn’t that happen last night? That’s the kind of hit where I’m okay with a Caps player immediately charging at Stuart and risk giving the Jets a five minute PP.
- Let’s be totally clear about this, Caps fans: “Crosby Sucks!” is not an appropriate chant on Friday when the Jets visit DC. I’ll be at the game and will personally remove anyone from the arena who participates in this.
Overall, I’m still upbeat about the Caps chances of making the playoffs. There is plenty to like about the way the Caps have played in this most recent stretch of games. Additionally, Nicklas Backstrom has been skating and ramping up his workouts. While no return date has even been discussed yet, this is significant progress for the Caps number one pivot.
The Caps now look forward to the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday night. Almost two years ago to the day, on a Sunday in Chicago, Backstrom provided the Caps with a thrilling overtime goal to end a game that is one my favorite post-lockout Caps memories.
- Three things that have to improve for the Washington Capitals in the “second half” (brookslaichyear.com)