Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Red Tape: Capitals and Panthers, Pens fire Therrien, and the Czech Cobra

Some critics consider the Florida Panthers a "smoke and mirrors" team, one that isn't nearly as good as its record suggests. As the Capitals found out, that's not true as the Panthers proved to be more than a worthy opponent, but were unable to contain Alex Ovechkin, who broke the 40-goal mark for the fourth consecutive season.

The Capitals found early success in the game, dominating the Panthers to take a 1-0 lead in the first period. The second period looked to be more of the same as Eric Fehr notched his sixth goal in eight games just 30 seconds into the second period.

The Capitals domination would soon come to a close as numerous penalties gave the Panthers more than enough chances to get back in the game. When Michael Frolik scored for the Panthers in the middle of the second, the Panthers were able to build some momentum which lead to a power play goal early in the third courtesy of Nathan Horton.

The third period might have been a preview of a possible Capitals and Panthers round one playoff tilt: energetic, fast-paced and full of great goaltending. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the clocked ticked closer and closer to "Ovie time," aka the last five minutes of the game. With 2:31 left in regulation, Alex Ovechkin ripped a shot past Tomas Vokoun. He would then put the game away with his third goal of the night, an empty netter with seconds left to play.

The Capitals walked away with four key points, and the Panthers fell short of setting a franchise record of six consecutive wins at home.

  • Alex Semin's assist on Ovechkin's first goal gave him 50 points on the year. The Capitals are the first team in the NHL this season with four 50-point scorers (stat provided by
  • Jose Theodore was given the game's third star, and he couldn't be more deserving.
  • Eric Fehr continues to "make the most" of his playing time; he has six goals in eight games.
  • In case you were wondering, the Capitals had eight penalties to the Panthers' three. And yet again, the Capitals managed to get not one, but two, delay-of-game penalties, courtesy of Nicklas Backstrom and Sergei Fedorov.
  • Mike Green's goal-scoring streak has come to an end, but his offensive play was still top notch. Green had four shots and was a plus one on the night.
Pens fire Michel Therrien
This should be a pretty interesting weekend of hockey. First, the Capitals face the Avalanche, which will pit Jose Theodore against his former team, and then the Capitals will face the Penguins, who now have a new head coach.

Dan Byslma, the coach of Pens AHL affliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton, has been named the interim head coach. The Penguins have been downright awful as of late. They've managed a 1-7 record on the road dating to Jan. 1.

With the Capitals on the fast track to success, and the Penguins grasping at straws to stay in the Stanley Cup playoff race, I'm interested to see how loud and proud the Pittsburgh horde will be on Sunday.

For a completely uncensored look at the Pens' coaching struggles, be sure to check out The PensBlog.

Michal Neuvith nickname suggestion time...
Alright, just hours after Simeon Varlamov's NHL debut, the Russian netminder was dubbed "The Iron Curtain" and "Wall-amov."

Considering that Michal Neuvirth's debut was just as successful and just as impressive, we here at CK are officially opening the "Michal Neuvirth nickname debate"

We're considering this one: The Czech Cobra. His sick glove saves are as fast and deadly as a snake.

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