Corey Perry recorded ten shots, the Ducks lost two key players, and Alex Ovechkin romped over them. That’s pretty much the story from Anaheim on Sunday night.
Here’s what’s significant about each of those. First, Perry. His linemates, who right now are Getzlaf and Smith-Pelly, notched zero shots on goal between them. Getzlaf had eight either blocked or missed, and the other guy two, but that’s not much production from the top line.
The Captain explained briefly after the game: “Against a team like that we’ve got to be better. More disciplined. You can’t give them odd man rushes. They’ll capitalize every time.” He later said, “We’re just at that point in the year when mentally you’ve got to be a little bit stronger, and get that mojo back that we had at the start of the season. At the start of the year, we never strayed from our path. We just played our game throughout the whole game. It didn’t matter what the score was, we just played. I think at times we’re tying to make things happen that are not there, and it ends up in the back of our net.”
Perry was on fire, but the team was not aggressive on the forecheck nor effective on defense. The Ducks recorded 20 hits on the night, the Capitals 35. What that tells you is that in both their own end and the other one, Washington was better. And it paid off.
The Washington team went down by a goal at 1:06. Bad news. But they got it back 16 seconds later. That play came when off the faceoff, Ovechkin took a one-timer wrist shot that snuck in. It looked to me like a bad goal, and John Gibson said after the game, without mentioning that play, that he would like to have “made a couple of those saves, keep us in the game,” but the Ducks got one back when Corey Perry scored at the five-minute mark to make it 2-1. Assists went to Smith-Pelly and defenseman Lindholm, so at least there was some production out of the top line. However, that goal, like the first Washington tally, was not a great one. Kind of like the goalies were doing what they call in baseball “defensive indifference,” only there’s no way a netminder would do that on purpose.
Ovechkin also scored a one-timer on the power play, the second Washington goal, to even the game at twos. When asked about that, Getzlaf said, “I didn’t know he was going to dive all over the f*&k!$g ice, but um, that part is a little embarrassing. He’s a great player. He’s going to score goals and make plays, but that other stuff’s embarrassing.” The goal was a slapshot one-timer, and what marvels the watcher is simply this—everyone in the arena knows what the guy’s going to do, but nobody can do a darn thing about it.
And that brings me to point two, Ovechkin’s play. OK, so above it was point three. Thanks for paying attention to notice that. Now it’s point two. Ovechkin played over 21 minutes against LA Saturday. He got just 16 versus the Ducks. But he had seven shots plus eight more either missed or blocked. He also recorded three hits. He got the two goals plus two assists. In 16 minutes.
As a bit of a side note, it’s funny that on those assists, Ovechkin was passing to Burakovsky, who hadn’t even played the night before.
Saturday after the game in LA, Coach Trotz had said something like, “I’m going to make some changes; I’ll decide on the bus down there who goes out and who gets a chance.” Well, Burakovsky was the man, or one of three, and he took full advantage. He got two goals, but even more, he kept up with Ovechkin all night long. Trotz said after, “He was good. That whole line was good, and then Ovi, you know, really gave it. He’s scored a few goals on this trip. But Andre was good, and that whole line had some jump.” The kid scored twice on four shots.
And finally, the story is that the Ducks lost two players, Matt Beleskey and Sami Vatanen. Each went down in the first period. Beleskey had been playing with Kesler and Palmieri on the second line. With him gone (he went awkwardly into the boards behind the net and likely has a shoulder problem), Boudreau’s first move was to put Cogliano on Beleskey’s former line. Problem was, that left the pair of Rakell and Silfverberg with an unfamiliar third man, Maroon. The coach shortly put Maroon with Kesler and Palmieri and returned the Cogliano trio to its former identity.
Something worked, because Cogliano had two goals, one before the injury and one after, though he wasn’t entirely pleased afterwards. “We didn’t do a good enough job when [Ovechkin] was on the ice, and he made us pay.” He also said, “We gave them way too many easy goals tonight. The rush goals, a lot of them were two-on-ones, and I think we gave opportunity like that to a very skilled team. They’ll beat you when you do that. It’s something that we don’t want to do, but it’s just happening right now. When we get back to our game, we’ll win.”
The coach had no updates on the injured players, of course. They never do the night of a game. He’s likely just pleased that they now don’t see anyone until Wednesday, when Tampa Bay comes to town.
“We’re not happy with how we’re playing. We’re not in the right state of mind right now, and we’re losing games by giving too many easy chances. We need to get back to what we were doing before, playing tight defense and creating offense from there.” That was Cogliano’s summation, and he’s pretty much right.
Getting some really good netminding might also help. It’s not fair to bash Gibson, who did let in five goals on 28 shots, while not getting a ton of help. But getting a few miracle saves often rallies a team, and this guy hasn’t done that yet. The alternative is train wreck Bryzgalov, who has positively scary numbers: 1-4-1 in eight games. 4.19 GAA and .847 save percentage.
Heck, that’s worse than Washington’s backup, Justin Peters, who is 2-5-1 in nine, with a 3.58 GAA and .870 save percentage. And look—he won the game Sunday night.
Steve Montador, the former Ducks player (and other teams) who died this weekend, was noted by Getzlaf as a man who always did a lot with CHOC charity events. “He was always down there when he played here,” he said. Truly a good guy, apparently. What a shame.
Thanks to Josh Brewster of Duck Calls, the post-game show. He had me on as his guest.
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