Wednesday, December 16, 2009
By Joe Beninati
This one turned out to be much easier than expected. The Caps put on a dominating performance to down the Avalanche and they did it without a stellar performance from their big star players.I got the feeling from the guys in the dressing room earlier today that they were approaching this game with plans on making a statement. Well, their statement was heard loud and clear.I'm sure this was one of the Avalanche's worst performances of the year. Up until now they had to be considered the NHL's most pleasant surprise. Which is great news for
a couple of good guys and former Caps, Joe Sacco and Steve Konowalchuk, behind their bench. But the Caps put it to them right away tonight.Kyle Wilson had a very nice NHL debut. He chipped in a pair of assists on twoTomas Fleischmann goals and stuck to his word when he told me this morning -- all he had to do was relax and face this NHL challenge like it was just another hockey game.When Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble converted a pretty two-on-one passing play late in the first period the D.C. boys were out front for good. Solid penalty killing early in the game and at least one big stop from Jose Theodore on Chris Stewart kept Washington in control.They went into overdrive in the second period. The third and fourth lines were the difference makers. David Steckel, Matt Bradley, and Chris Clark created all sorts of havoc in the Avalanche zone. Colorado appeared overwhelmed. They were sloppy in theD zone.
Their MVP Craig Anderson was not his usual stingy self in goal and the Caps confidence ballooned from there.Whenever Tomas Fleischmann gets on the scoreboard, you see his confidence level sky rocket. His two goals tonight were just the start of things in a game where he created opportunities and carried the puck with command.I saw Mike Green by the Capitals' bus as the team was making it's way for the airport. He's sporting a nasty black eye and stitches, after he got clobbered by David Koci in the second period. He said he was OK. Let's hope he stays that way on the long trip out to Vancouver. That was some heavy hit he took.Hope you'll stay up late with us Friday. The Caps and Canucks should put on a good show.