F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 10/23/11 at 04:14 PM ET
The Washington Capitals are now the last remaining undefeated team thanks to a 7-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. For the second consecutive game the Capitals have gone up against a playoff-favorite and responded by putting up a combined 12 goals and only conceding 3. While it has to be said that Detroit did have to play the night prior and then travel to Washington, it should not take anything away from this victory.
The clear star of this game was Tomas Vokoun. He made 32 saves throughout the game and the only goal he allowed was during a 5-on-3. On his second 5-on-3 he made sure to not let it happen again as he made 2 huge saves. As it usually is with top-tier goalies, it was not just about the volume of saves Vokoun made, but the timing of them. Shortly after Mike Green had put the Caps up 1-0, Dan Cleary found himself in alone. Vokoun stayed calm and made the save. This save would turn out to be the most important save, as Johansson would put the Caps up 2-0 a few minutes later and never look back. A team as offensively skilled as Detroit, it is easy for a goalie to choose to sit back in that crease to avoid getting out-deked. Vokoun stayed true to his game and made most of his saves on the edge of the crease. Even better was his rebound control. In his first couple of starts I noticed that Vokoun left too many rebounds in the slot. He must have noticed it too as he vacuumed up nearly every puck he saw and sent the others into the corners. With Neuvirth being knicked up the past couple of games, Vokoun has made sure to do all he could to silence his critics. Neuvirth will make the next road trip with the team, so I would expect him to see at least one start.
The power play continues to intrigue (read: baffle) me. I actually think this is a good thing because it is probably doing the same to opposing teams. In the past few games the Caps had done the same thing on every man advantage. They consistently opened each power play with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Johannson, Green, and Wideman. The power play was essentially using the D as a way to distribute the puck. They would place Backstrom along the half boards and simply have him pass back and forth with the D to try to open up Ovechkin in the slot. I thought this was a good strategy and they seemed to be getting more comfortable with it. Of course this means that Boudreau will change it. Johansson found himself replaced by Brouwer and instead they allowed the D to activate a bit. Against a perennially strong penalty kill in Detroit, the Caps simply plopped Brouwer down in front of Conklin and used cross-ice passes to create chances. Detroit clearly struggled against this as they failed twice to close up a seam from the puck carrier and Mike Green. The result was 2 Mike Green goals in the first 3 power play chances.
As they did so well against Philadelphia, the Caps were not content with sitting back on their heels late in the game. At the half-way point of the third period the Caps were already up 5-1. Between the huge gap in scoring and the fact that they had played the night before, the Red Wings were clearly tiring. Instead of simply dumping the puck in and changing, the Caps chose to press down just a bit on the accelerator, forcing the Red Wings to play in their own zone and leading to 2 more goals. This killer instinct was something that they lacked last year.
It would be hard for the Caps to not feel amazing after this past week of hockey. They recorded 3 wins (2 of them being statement wins against top teams), scored 15 goals and only allowed 3. They should not forget what they are capable of, but should also remember that nothing is given. This upcoming week they head on a 2-game road trip against Edmonton and Vancouver. Let’s hope they can keep up this insane start.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.