Friday, October 30, 2009

Thoughts on the Game: Atlanta, 10/29

I have a special place in my heart for goalies and goaltending. It takes a special type of person to stand in front of pucks for a living. I played in net for a number of seasons and it still remains a passion of mine, even though I'm not al that good any longer. So it pains me every time a goalie stands on his head for a team, just to watch the team in front of him goof off, take penalties, let up breakaways and just forget how to play defense. Last night's Caps game should have been a 3-0 shutout. Instead, Mike Knuble's empty net goal ends up being the game winner and Varly takes the hit for 3 goals against.

To the notes.

-It's time to stop pooping on Jeff Schultz people. The guy is playing like a top 4 defender this season. His outlet passes, pokechecks, and corner work are all top-notch so far this season. Maybe it does take the super tall guys longer to learn their game.

-It's like watching replays of the same game: Caps get up 3-0 and all of a sudden, Ovie, Semin and Green are attempting risky toe-drags and blind passes, Backstrom is going too deep and isn't able to help on the backcheck, and the defense is letting guys get behind them. I get it, you're an offensive team. I just how you learn that 3-0 is an offensive victory the same as 6-0.

-Zach Bogosian is the Shea Weber of Atlanta. The kid has wheels, a nice phisical presence, and a ton of offensive ability. The more I see these guys, the more I understand why Mike Green didn't win the Norris last season...I'd put Bouwmeester, Weber, Bogosian and Chara above Green right now, and I haven't even seen a lot of other D so far this season.

-For his career, counting the playoffs, Varly's stats look like this: 16-4-3, 2.65 GAA, .913 SV% (counting those 2 OT losses to Pittsburgh in the 'OTL' category). If you drop those stats into this years leaders, he's right in that Lundqvist/Nabokov range (not quite to the Jose Theodore range though).

-Last night looked to me like Forty's best game yet. He seemed calmer and more controlled in his movements than before, his focus was there for 60 minutes (unlike his teammates), and he never gives up on a shot.

-Forty's one save, in the 2nd period I believe, where he came out about 20 feet and took a slap shot to the belly, is the definition of 'cutting down the angle'. People might say 'wow, he was completely out of position'. If you watch the replay, Varly moves out a good 10 feet AFTER the shot is taken and before the puck hits him. Yes, if that had been a pass, there is a wide open net. But Varly knew it wasn't a pass.

-If I were Varly, I'd have walked into the locker room (which was probably a happy one), smashed my stick on the wall (everyone stops, looks, and gets quiet) and said to the room, in my broken English "What the f*** is wrong with you!? In the playoffs, we lose that game 6-2!". Nothing says 'wake up call' more than a quiet, off-the-boat goalie calling you out after a win.

-Kids, take note: Backstrom's saucer passes are what you should be studying. If you can make the pass that broke Ovie for his second goal, you can play in the NHL.

-And I take back my comments about Flash. He had a ton of scoring chances, some solid forechecking, and one shot that would have been a goal if not for a ridiculous save. That line looked solid all night long.

-Still loving Keith Aucoin. Someone said 'backcheck or you're going back to Hershey' and he started backchecking.

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