Tuesday, January 5, 2010
By Joe Beninati
The Caps bestowed a new title on their best player and then followed the lead of a new center throughout the night.Were it not for Carey Price in the Montreal goal, the Caps could have had a couple of first period markers. Instead they settled for a scoreless 20 minutes, one in which they played a very sound defensive game.The home team had the puck a lot, which meant the Canadiens' sharp shooters could not have any fun for themselves. New captain Alex Ovechkin played almost nine minutes at top speed in the first frame. Alex accepted thecaptaincy with grace, acknowledging that his teammates wanted no one else to be recognized as their leader.
But it was the other Alex, Alex Semin, who had the big game. Semin's energy level was through the roof all game long, and his two goals were scored on shots that few people on earth could stop.
Bruce Boudreau played a hunch and put Tomas Fleischmann at center tonight, and in
conjunction with Semin and Brooks Laich the trio rewarded him. Fleischmann will have to adjust to the defensive responsibilitiesof playing center, but he's always had the puck moving skills to play the middle. He seemed to be in good position throughout the night and the coaches will praise him for it.Everything Eric Fehr touches against Montreal goes in this year. Fehr was the recipient of akind bounce just like Montreal defender JoshGorges in the second period. I liked the physical nature of that frame. The Caps come outof their shell when they're challenged physically, and their top performances this year have come when their hit total is high.Tom Poti was exceptional tonight. He was paired with Jeff Schultz and played a much more visible offensive game.It sounds like there's good news coming soon for Brian Pothier's return. Which means the back line will be bolstered.
Michal Neuvirth earns another victory in goal and you'd have to think he gets another starting nod Thursday against Ottawa.
Click here to read more on Ovechkin's Captaincy