Maple Leafs 1 v. Capitals 6: What Did You Expect?

The contented Maple Leafs travelled to Washington to face the Washington Capitals, a Stanley Cup contender, and the result was about what was expected. Alexander Ovechkin scored early after Tomas Kaberle left him alone to try to chase Ian White's man. We found out tonight that Tomas Kaberle has the second most points among defencemen since the lockout behind only Nik Lidstrom. That's great and Kaberle doesn't have to be the best defender ever to go with being one of the best offensive d-men but that play was so far from acceptable.

Karina's picture form the post-game thread perfectly sums up the Leafs' defending tonight: just an absolute mess. The second goal was more of the same as Ian White decided to venture over to Kaberle's side of the ice which left Eric Fehr all alone to deflect Alex Ovechkin's weak shot. Pierre McGuire tried to lay the blame on the Capitals' third goal on Francois Beauchemin but I don't see what he did poorly. He took a shot, tried to get the rebound that came right to him - which unfortunately bounced over his stick - and then he backchecked and picked up his man. Phil Kessel almost covered perfectly until he tried to intercept the pass to Mike Knuble rather than tie up his man. Once he missed that pass it left Mike Knuble alone to tap it into the open net but Knuble was Kessel's.

The Rest:

  • The fourth goal was an illustration of what happens when the puck isn't put in deep on the penalty kill and the opposition has a lot of skill. Beauty goal.
  • Good work by Nikolai Kulemin on the screen on Tomas Kaberle's power play goal.
  • On the fifth Carl Gunnarsson peels off of Alexander Ovechkin but Ponikarovsky doesn't get to him quickly enough. At the same time Gunnarsson doesn't get back in time to cover Tomas Fleischmann who promptly gets an easy deflection.
  • Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman dog it on the backcheck and that allows Tom Poti to waltz in and fire it past Vesa Toskala.

Corsi and Fenwick | Head-to-HeadEvent Summary | Game Summary | Japers' Rink Recap

 

The Corsi/Fenwick and H2H numbers are at even strength. Based on those two here are a few other assorted thoughts:

  • Ian White got absolutely shredded in (on?) Corsi. He had an absolute nightmare of a game.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky and Niklas Hagman were the only players to be on the positive end of Corsi.
  • One night after being perfect the Leafs gave up essentially three power play goals (2 officially, 1 basically)
  • Gunnarsson and Beauchemin were on the ice the most against Alex Ovechkin. They also played the most time with each other. Somehow Beauch ended up -2 and Gunnarsson was even.
  • Kessel played almost 12 minutes at even strength. Despite having the last change it looks like Boudreau was happy to roll through his lines.

There were three flashpoints in the game:

  1. Here's what Becca had to say about the first goal - a somewhat devious yet brilliant move by Tom Poti to use Jason Blake as a net removal device - I missed the goal but was the call the right one?
  2. Alexei Ponikarovsky's high-sticking penalty whcih cancelled out Matt Stajan's goal came when his stick got caught in Mike Green's jersey and under his shoulder pad. Green certainly made a meal of it though with a Ribeiro-like head throwback. That was enough to make Chris Rooney think that it was actually high-sticking since the stick never went above Green's shoulders and probably shouldn't have been a penalty based on the way that rule is written. Rooney was behind Green which blocked his view.
  3. The Orr Hit - I've watched it about 10 times in slow motion in all of the different angles. I'll re-iterate Karina's comment that he didn't intentionally hit Mike Green in the face with his cross-check. He hits him in the chest and if it did - because it wasn't clear to me that it ever hit Green's head - then it was a result of the stick running up Green's chest as he fell back.

    As for the intent of the hit it was not clear from the replay if Orr was looking at Green or if Green came into his line of sight while he was focused on the puck that he seemed to be pursuing. Pierre McGuire was of the opinion that it was a reaction but I have to say that it looked to me like it was just an intentional hit on a player that didn't have the puck and wasn't going to have it. Since we can't see his eyes it's tough to judge but in my opinion it was a dirty hit.

This game wraps up the season series and the Washington Capitals win on points 5-4. As I've said before, these aren't the games that the Leafs can expect to win (although they should still work their tails off intelligently every night) but if they are going to make some headway out of the last five spots they better not give this kind of effort against their fellow lesser lights.

October 3, 2009 - Toronto 4 at Washington 6

November 21, 2009 - Toronto 2 vs Washington 1 SO

December 12, 2009 - Toronto 6 vs Washington 3 

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