Wild Night

It was far from the best hockey game I’ve ever witnessed, but getting a point in a road game against the Minnesota Wild qualifies as a Good Thing (hold the Fine Young Cannibals please and thanks) at this stage of the Washington Capitals rebuild/growth cycle. Brent Johnson was tremendous in goal and Brian Sutherby was stellar on the PK, particularly late in the game. And Alexander Semin netted another “teacup” goal. That’s five in three games now for him, half the total he put up in 52 games as a 19-year-old rookie in 2003-04. Nice to see Chris Clark and Kris Beech extend their scoring streaks to three games, too.

The Wild is one of the most impressive teams I’ve seen thus far this season, although they weren’t at their best tonight. The Atlanta Thrashers are another team that has caught my eye early. They’re off to a fast start at 3-0-1, and they’ve steamrolled their way to three straight wins by a combined score of 11-1. The Caps have had a scarce but tough schedule early on. Only four games in the season’s first 14 days, but included in those four opponents were two teams (Rangers, Hurricanes) that racked up 100 points last season (including the eventual Stanley Cup winner) and two teams (Wild, Thrashers) that are undefeated as of this writing.

Atlanta hosts Carolina on Friday before coming to the District on Saturday, but they’ll they’ll catch the Caps at home on the back end of a back-to-back next week. After Saturday’s game in Washington, the Thrashers head home to cool their heels for four full days before hosting Washington on Thursday in what turns out to be a sort of delayed home-and-home for Atlanta.

The leisurely part of Washington’s schedule comes to an abrupt halt in midweek. The Caps host the Panthers on Wednesday, face the Thrash in Atlanta on Thursday and head back home to take on Tampa Bay on Saturday the 21st. Three games in four nights immediately after four games in 14 nights. That’s about when ice hockey gets replaced with horse hockey (giddyup) at Verizon Center, sending the Caps out west for four games in six nights against the rugged Northwest Division.

By then, we should have a better handle on how good the Caps are. Hopefully they get Matt Pettinger back and can get Matt Bradley’s minutes back up to their usual level soon.

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Lots of other interesting things going on around the league tonight, with the Edmonton-San Jose barnburner and the Dallas-LA game still underway as I hunt and peck.

The Rangers and Pens hooked up in a 6-5 decision with the Pens finishing on top. Neither team ever led by more than a goal, and Sidney Crosby won it with a goal at 19:56 of the third. He had four points on the night. Congrats to Jordan Staal on his first NHL, an unassisted shorthander that started the scoring in that game in the first period. Kris Letang also got his first NHL goal for the Pens in that game. Only three of the 11 goals in that game came at even strength.

New Jersey’s Brian Gionta notched a natural hat trick as did San Jose’s Jonathan Cheechoo. Gionta scored his three goals over a span of 12:53 of the third period, singlehandedly bringing the Devils even from a 6-3 deficit. Cheechoo’s came over a span of 20:07 in the first and second periods. Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth — one of this reporter’s personal faves for a decade now — outdid them both. He netted a natural hat trick in a span of just 2:01 (breaking Wayne Gretzky’s team record for fastest three goals) in the third period to erase what was a 4-2 San Jose lead going into the third. As I type, Ales Hemsky has scored a breakaway goal to extend the Edmonton lead to 6-4.

I wonder how many of Marty Brodeur’s 400-plus NHL wins were notched in spite of him allowing six (or more) goals.

Jarome Iginla scored the lone goal of the game as visiting Calgary nipped the Sens in Ottawa, 1-0. Miikka Kiprusoff made 33 stops (17 in the third period) for the shutout. Washington’s Johnson was the last visiting goaltender to author a 1-0 shutout at Scotiabank Place; he did it on April 1. Calgary has scored just five goals in four games and is still 2-2. Whose defense/netminding is better than that of the Flames?

How about the Sens getting blanked in two of their first three home games this season?

Comeback in progress: Eric Lindros has three assists tonight. The Dallas game is not over yet, either.

Anyone have Nashville or Carolina in the Last NHL Team to Record a 2006-07 Victory Pool? Congratulations.

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Here’s a hard and hearty two-handed cross-check to the 29 NHL general managers not named George McPhee, for voting against Alex Ovechkin’s continued use of the mirrored visor he sported at times last season. Let me get this straight fellas: Shootout, yes. Mirrored visor, no. Maybe if it was a glow-visor, huh?

I’d love to see the NHL add another trophy: the Pavel Bure Trophy. It would be awarded annually to the player who leads the NHL in empty-net goals.

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Finally, I leave you with some good news on the Caps Kids front:

Travis Morin is now Mavs’ go-to guy
http://www.mankatofreepress.com/sports/local_story_285023042.html?keyword=topstory

Justin Mrazek named ECACHL Goaltender of the Week
http://www.unionathletics.com/News/mhockey/2006/10/9/MIH100906.asp?path=mhockey

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2 Comments on “Wild Night”

  1. Absaraka Says:

    We’ll definitely take a point against the Wild, and the way the Thrashers have started, I’m not complaining about an overtime loss there, either. What worries me is this upcoming Northwest swing: the Western Conference Champion Oilers, the always-dangerous-at-home ‘Lanche, and the Canucks, who have some guy named Luongo between the pipes that I’ve never heard of. I’m not worried that much about the Flames, but even that might be an underestimation. If I had to guess, I’d call that a 5-point trip if we’re lucky. Maybe?

  2. Home Careers Says:

    hey – when you get a chance, check out this site. It has a lot of career offerings, as well as information about online businesses.


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