Postgame Notebook, 12-17-2007
After losing a winnable home ice game against Buffalo on Friday, the Caps went into two of the toughest buildings in the league on short rest and came away with three of a possible four points after Monday’s shootout loss to the Wings in Detroit.
“I don’t look at a shootout loss as a loss anyway,” says Caps goalie Olie Kolzig, and we here at the Postgame Notebook staff echo and applaud such thinking. “I look at it as a tie.
“We won three, we lost one, we came right back and we won, and we got another point [tonight]. We can make a real statement by winning Thursday and Saturday and feeling good about ourselves going into the break.
“If you told me before the game that we would have gotten a point out of tonight, I think all of us would have been pretty happy with that. But as the game goes on you get greedy. And when it’s tied and you’re in overtime, obviously you want to win the game.”
Monday’s game was Washington’s sixth consecutive one-goal affair on the road. The Capitals are 3-2-1 in those games.
This One Goes to Eleven – The Caps tallied twice in the first period of Monday’s game, marking the 11th straight period – including the overtime session against the Rangers last Wednesday – in which Washington scored.
Before Monday night’s game, the Wings had outscored the opposition by a combined 21-6 in the first period of home games this season.
This One Stopped at Eleven – Going into Monday night’s game, the Caps had outshot the opposition in 11 straight road games, the longest such streak in franchise history and the longest in the NHL since the Boston Bruins outshot foes in 15 straight road contests in 2001-02. The previous best for Washington came in 1982-83 when it outshot opponents in 10 straight road games.
The Caps outshot the Wings through regulation on Monday but finished even with their hosts at 30 shots apiece.
The 8 Car – Ovechkin netted his 122nd career goal and his 24th of the season, and he victimized his 45th different goaltender in his 20th different building when he beat Detroit’s Dominik Hasek on a Washington power play in the first period on Monday night.
Ovechkin has his 24 goals in just 33 games this season. When he potted 52 goals during his rookie season of 2005-06, Ovechkin netted his 24th tally in his 37th game. Last season, when he totaled 46 goals, Ovechkin’s 24th goal came in his 35th game of the season.
Green Means Go-To – Monday night marked the 11th straight game in which Caps defenseman Mike Green logged 20 or more minutes of ice time. He has averaged 24:07 per game during that stretch.
Four in Six for 55 – Jeff Schultz’s goal in the final minute of the first period was his fourth goal in six games and his fourth goal in six shots on goal.
It took Schultz 44 games to net his first NHL goal; it has taken him just 21 games to notch the next four of his NHL career.
No. 1 for Q – Caps Winger Quintin Laing picked up his first NHL assist on Schultz’s goal, doing so against the Detroit team that chose him in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft (fourth round, 102nd overall).
Before the game on Monday in Detroit, Laing took some time to remember his teenage training camp days with the Red Wings.
“The first year was here actually,” he recalled, “in ’97 after they won the first Cup. I guess it was just a madhouse here so the next year they had to move it out to Traverse City. I went there two years, did the rookie camp and then the main camp out there.
“It was pretty neat. They had the Cup there the first day. Just the names on it – Fedorov, Yzerman, Shanahan – so many [future] Hall of Famers. As an 18-year-old going there it was really neat.”
Laing has no axe to grind against the organization that let him go.
“That was a long time ago,” he mused. “I’m just excited to be playing against them. They’re probably the best team in the league. I’m just excited about the test and the challenge that is going to await us tonight.”
Laing holds no particular fondness for Joe Louis Arena either, although he did acknowledge that his dad – former WHA skater Bill Laing – was excited about his son playing there.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” said Laing. “I don’t really care what NHL building I play in. My dad gets a big kick out of it. He’s a big hockey guy too, so he’s really proud of me for getting a chance to play here.”
Zero for 25 – Viktor Kozlov is without a goal in 18 straight games now, the third longest streak of his career and his longest since he went 19 games without lighting the lamp in 1997-98. Kozlov’s longest NHL goal drought was in 1995-96 when he endured a 21-game dry spell.
Kill Streak Killed – Washington’s streak of 12 straight games without allowing more than one power play goal in a game came to an end on Monday night when the Wings bagged a pair of tallies with the extra man.
Brash Minor – There were more than a few denizens of press row who thought Donald Brashear’s second period roughing penalty was a reputation call that wouldn’t have been made against most other players. Regardless, it ended an eight-game run during which Brashear did not draw a minor penalty. It was his longest such streak this season; he once went nine straight contests without picking up a minor penalty in 2006-07.
Three and Four … 23 Years Later – Two of the top four picks in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft were in the building here today at Joe Louis Arena. No. 3 choice Eddie Olczyk is in town to work with Joe Beninati on the Versus telecast tonight, and No. 4 pick Al Iafrate is a local product (he hails from Livonia, Mich.) who was in the building this morning to service his Warrior hockey stick clients.
The Chicago Blackhawks took local boy Olczyk (from Palos Heights, Ill.) with the third overall pick in that draft, after the Pens grabbed Mario Lemieux first overall and the Devils tabbed Kirk Muller with the second choice. Olczyk was the first U.S.-born player taken in the first round of an NHL draft who was chosen by his hometown team. Blackhawks general manager Bob Pulford had to make a draft day deal with Los Angeles to move from No. 6 to No. 3 in order to grab Olzcyk, who was the youngest player on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team. He earned a spot on the roster before his 17th birthday and playing in the Olympics as a 17-year-old.
Iafrate went to the Maple Leafs with the No. 4 pick. He also played for Team USA at the 1984 Olympics and became the first U.S.-born player ever drafted by the Maple Leafs.
Olczyk and Iafrate became teammates with the Leafs when the Hawks dealt Eddie O. to Toronto on Sept. 3, 1987 in a five-player swap.
A Pair of Longtimers – Kolzig and Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom are both still with the teams that drafted them. Both Kolzig (first round, 19th overall) and Lidstrom (third round, 53rd overall) were selected in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn.
The only two players in the NHL who have been with their franchises longer than Kolzig and Lidstrom are centers Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche and Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars. The Quebec Nordiques chose Sakic in the first round (14th overall) of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft and the Minnesota North Stars selected Modano with the first overall choice in the 1988 draft. Although the Nordiques later moved to Colorado and the North Stars to Dallas, both Sakic and Modano have been with their respective franchises continuously throughout their NHL careers.
Stingy with the Shots – Coming into Monday night’s game, Detroit had allowed 16 or fewer shots on goal in exactly one-quarter (8 of 32) of their games this season. Detroit had allowed just 23.2 shots on goal per game, the fewest in the NHL.
The Capitals finished up with 30 shots on goal against Detroit in Monday’s game, just the fifth time in 33 games the Wings have allowed as many as 30 shots on goal.
Busy Night for Dom – Dominik Hasek made his 16th start of the season tonight, and he had seen an average of just 20.3 shots per game in the first 15. Tonight, the Caps peppered Hasek with 30 shots on goal, the first time in his last 26 regular season starts in which the 42-year-old goaltender has faced more than 29 shots.
Streaking – The Red Wings own two of the four longest winning streaks in the NHL this season. The Wings won nine straight from Oct. 18-Nov. 9 and won seven in a row from Nov. 27-Dec. 13.
The nine-game winning streak is tied for the longest in franchise history. The Wings have achieved a nine-game winning streak on seven separate occasions over the years.
Legendary Lynch – My perch here in the press box at Joe Louis Arena is just a few feet to the right of Budd Lynch, the Red Wings’ legendary public address announcer. Lynch, honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1985, has been at the mic at the Joe since that same year. He began his career in hockey as a radio play-by-play man with the Wings in 1949 and has been behind the PA microphone since 1985. Budd Lynch is now 90 years old and still going strong.
Multiples – Tonight marked the 13th time in 33 games this season that the Red Wings managed to score more than one power play goal in a game. The Wings came into the game with a streak of 12 straight games without surrendering more than one power play goal in a game, a run that the Caps ended when Alexander Semin potted Washington’s second power play goal of the evening with just 1:34 remaining in regulation.
Detroit has surrendered more than one power play goal in a game only five times in 33 contests this season, and only three times in its last 26 games.
Stellar Start – The Wings won their 20th game of the season in their 28th game of the season, marking the fastest Detroit has hit the 20-win plateau since 2001-02 when it won 20 of its first 24 games en route to winning both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup.
Happy Birthday – To former Caps fan favorite Craig Berube, born on this date (12/17) in 1965 in Calahoo, Alberta. Berube is currently the bench boss of the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms.