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Vokoun Struggles; Caps Win 6-5 SO

In yesterday’s recap, I remarked that Vokoun might have trouble sleeping due to the play of Neuvirth against Carolina.  I can’t say for sure if that was true, but Vokoun was clearly not on the top of his game for his first start as a Capital.  Vokoun surrendered 5 goals on 28 shots, including 3 from severe angles.  Luckily for Vokoun, the offense showed up for him and managed to get him his first victory as a Cap, albeit one of the shootout variety.

It did not take long for the Lightning to pounce on Vokoun.  From behind the goal line, Teddy Purcell threw the puck to the crease.  The puck would click off Mike Green’s leg and past Vokoun.  While not Vokoun’s fault, it still was a rough one to open up the game with.  Six minutes later Bruno Gervais caught Vokoun leaning off his post and fired it past him from an almost impossible angle.  That one Vokoun will have to take the blame for.  He found himself in the doghouse once again when Brett Clark’s pass from inside the trapezoid clicked off Vokoun’s skate and into the net.  He did find some redemption, however, in overtime when he stonewalled Stamkos on a set play and was perfect in the shootout.  If you look at the game as a whole, Vokoun seemed like he could make impossible saves only to let in the “gimme”’s.  I would not expect to see Vokoun play like that again this season.

Vokoun wasn’t the only Cap who surprisingly found himself watching as the team took the ice against Carolina in the opener.  Marcus Johansson was selected as a healthy scratch to make room for Matthieu Perreault.  Johansson returned for this game and did not wait to make his mark.  Just 2 minutes after Teddy Purcell put the Lightning on top, Marcus Johansson broke in the zone and had a shot deflected wide.  As the puck bounced off the boards, Roloson attempted to dive and cover only to have MoJo steal the puck and wrap it around for his first goal of the season.  Johansson did not let up as it seemed like the only way he could be stopped was illegally.  Seconds before Brouwer’s second period goal, Johansson found himself on the receiving end of an uncalled high stick.  His speed would get the Caps 2 power plays throughout the night.  The first time gave the Caps a 4-on-3 that saw a goal waved off and the second was in OT.  It is plays like these that make Johansson the clear choice for second line center over Perreault.  If he plays like this, the Caps will easily be able to roll 3 lines night in and night out.

The hero tonight was undoubtedly Jason Chimera.  A 10 goal scorer last year, Chimera already finds himself with 3 in 2 games this year, which also leads the team.  The first of his goals tonight was one we have come to expect with Chimera.  Chimera’s speed allowed him to quickly pounce on Laich’s rebound and put it past a sprawling Roloson.  The second goal, however, was something we would more often expect out of Alex Semin.  With Knuble screening Roloson, Chimera corralled the loose puck, turned and fired an absolute laser over Roloson’s glove.

Against Carolina on Saturday, the Caps went 2-5 on the power play and 2-4 on the penalty kill.  Tonight the Caps failed to score on 0-6 on the power play but were a perfect 4-4 on the penalty kill.  As far as the power play goes, the team has shown almost no improvement.  The only way they have been able to connect thus far has been when their opponents were down to 3 men.  They have been switching Ovechkin from point to half board but nothing is working.  Each time they get the extra man, they find themselves with too much exterior-passing with no shots.  With guys like Laich and Knuble sitting in the crease, they need to pull the trigger more often and do the dirty work.  That really is the difference between the power play and the penalty kill.  The power play relies on their skill while the kill units scrap out there to keep the opponent off the board.  After letting Carolina’s power play scorch them on Friday, they fixed the problem areas and were great.  The only issue may be that they tend to allow the opponents to control the zone for extended periods of time, which will eventually exhaust them.

To Change Before Pittsburgh:

The power play is the obvious first choice.  Pittsburgh has some good penalty killers on their team in Adams, Dupius, and Cooke.  If the Caps can get the power play to click against them, they should go far.

The first line needs to connect.  While it is always good when you get quality goal scoring from your second and third lines, you need to get your top players involved.  Pittsburgh will definitely be without Crosby and could be without Malkin, so they should have a little more space to do so.


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About F Street Faithful

Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at overtheboard@gmail.com.