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Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
by Colin Van Osch (NHL)
Posted on May 2, 2009, 11:58 AM

Just some running notes about this one. I'm working off of paper notes, and I'm just trying to avoid another 'Does Andre Roy know it's Christmas?' episode.

Simeon Varlamov, I'm not understanding this. On one hand, he is showing just amazing reflexes, great second effort and a much better East-West game that I was anticipating. I didn't see much of him in his 6 games with New York, so I didn't know what to expect. The save on Crosby was so far beyond amazing, especially after Crosby makes a wonderful move to draw both defensemen and leave Kunitz open for the setup. On the other hand, both goals were stoppable, whether you think the 2nd goal was tipped or not, it didn't move enough to justify it not being stopped. So, I'm lukewarm on him, because Pittsburgh will put a lot more routine shots on him than hard to reach, highlight reel save requiring shots.

Surely the Capitals have someone better to replace Brashear with than Chris Clark? He has been just terrible. Took a bad penalty, spent 5 seconds in his own zone begging for a call that shouldn't have been called and has just been gassed and ineffective.

Ovechkins powerplay goal was just a thing of beauty. I don't know why Fleury would come out that far with a player behind him, and I don't know why Ovechkin wasn't being watched, but a great headfake from the point and Fleury bit. Gorgeous goal.

Is Too Many Men even a penalty anymore? Crosby was sprung for a breakaway by the sixth man on the ice at 10:15 of the first, and then in the second, Steckel plays the puck while his assigned man is in front of him, on the way to the bench. Why are we no longer calling this, I thought we were all about Powerplays under any circumstances.

Speaking of Steckel, he has been playing better than his shadow, Malkin. Steckel, outside of the goal, has been everywhere and is playing Malkin really well. Malkin has been embarrassing until about the 13:00 mark of the second period, then kind of turned it up. Still being outplayed by his shadow though.

So far, it's been about 55% Pittsburgh, 45% Washington. Onto the 3rd period.

Malkin AGAIN with no backcheck on the Fleishmann goal. Unbelievable.

Third Period was the same thing over and over: Penguins have possession, gain the zone, lose the puck before creating a chance, get send down the ice and regroup. No chance to get back in the game if you're not even going to shoot the puck.

Not as much to say. Malkin needs to be better. You cannot be outplayed by Steckel. Varlamov showed a lot of good reaction in the Third. Bruce Boudreau is a very passionate coach, but he really needs to pick his battles better. I understand that the refs missed a tripping call on your team, but you have no option but to call the obvious trip by Erksine. It just cannot be overlooked, so calm down. You're not doing yourself any favors when you're complaining about calls that shouldn't be made or when you're losing your mind when you've been called on an obvious penalty.

Good game so far, lots of pace. As with every Game 1 so far, I expect more from them now that the feeling out is done.

Quick 3 Stars

3. Tomas Fleishmann - Played well, hard work on both sides, made a few nice plays and put in the Game Winner. Easy call.

2. Sidney Crosby - Exceptional game, a lot of passionate play. Really took charge of his team and if it wasn't for random luck on Varlamovs second effort he would have had a 2 goal game. He worked so hard and would not give up. Great game.

1. David Steckel - Shadowing Malkin, outplayed him. Great game from a checking liner. Opens scoring for the Caps and generally just played right out of his depth.

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