Saturday night on F Street and the Broad Street Bullies were down from Philly to take on the Caps. It's always usually an interesting game when these two teams get together. Whether it's good or not is often up for debate, and could depend on who you ask afterward.
On The IceIt really looked a lot like the Caps spent a lot of tonight perfecting their dual identities of late. Strong one moment, and somewhat clueless the next. Of course, they weren't exactly helped out by the guys in stripes during one of the most oddly-officiated games that I can recall seeing on F Street in a while, or by the insane amount of posts that they hit both early on and at the bitter end.
The Caps' ability to fall behind 3-1 after scoring first was aggravating. On the flip side, their ability to storm back from a two-goal deficit entering the third was the kind of thing that makes you wonder just how scary they could be if they found the right rhythm and consistency from night to night. Nicklas Backstrom's and Jason Chimera's goals in the third combined to be my highlight of the night. The other two Caps goals were no slouches either, just for the record.
My "Lowlight of the Night" was easily the third goal for the Flyers, scored by Jeff Carter as he just skated through the gaps left between the entirety of the Caps team and lifted a wrister past Neuvirth. I was shocked on the big screen replay to see just how easy of a time he seemed to have skating right on in.
The ship could use a little tightening. Hopefully there's a bit of a practice waiting for them in the next couple of days before heading up to Jersey.
In The StandsAlso in the category of "continuing recent trends" was the amount of Flyers fans in attendance tonight. There was a bit more orange and black apparel than the home game on the 7th, as well as the recently usual amount of no-shows, especially early. However, it was still a strong home crowd that had some great volume right out of the gate. I think a decent visiting team's fan presence tends to help stoke the fires.
Particularly impressive is the emotional tenacity that a lot of the crowd had, even as the Caps almost let the game get completely away from them. When the fury was unleashed in the third, the noise was robust, and the place went wild when Chimera scored the tying goal a few moments later.
Notably in attendance tonight, over to my right in section 106, was NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. I couldn't quite tell if the referees were getting so involved in the action in the second period just to show off for him or what. What I do know is that at least one fan caught up with him during the second intermission to give him a piece of his mind about the officiating performance up to that point. Let's just say it wasn't exactly a rave review.
Above Our Heads And BeyondOK, I know that the technology behind the CrowdWave games is legit, and that the software and hardware is still being tweaked. That said, two of the three sections in tonight's "Rink Race" must have been either empty or full of corpses tonight. I say that because only half of section 107 was even participating, much less waving their arms enthusiastically enough to win. Oh well, it's still a work in progress.
Great timing for "Unleash the Fury" tonight. Nice faceoff in the offensive zone, crowd ready for a comeback goal, and perhaps in need of a little extra push over the cliff. Nicely done.
Forgot about this one last night, but seriously, 92% of the people that sent in an answer thought that Rod Langway had won the Hart Trophy? For shame.
And So…We saw promising bursts of talent and sticktoitiveness (two comebacks in the third) coupled with stretches of head-scratching breakdowns (the go-ahead goal after capturing all of the momentum with the previously mentioned comeback), punctuated with occasionally putrid officiating (really, a phantom hook for a full minute of 5-on-3 for Philly?). Somehow, out of all of that mess, the Caps managed to wring out a point. It wasn't a particularly satisfying point, but it counts.
That's the bright side. On the not-so-bright side, there are still some really important question marks looming over the Caps. Most of them don't look all that much closer to being answered now--just under two months into the season--than they did in September.
Invoking the "Essentially Pre-Season 'Til January" mantra again tonight, I'm not really going to sweat it too much. But I don't have to. I just hope that those who do have to sweat it are working on it.
Photo credit: Joe Roos / Facebook