(Photos by Caps Outsider) It was all about the fans Saturday night...
Capitals vs. Canadiens: Michal Neuvirth and John Carlson Debut
CANADIENS-CAPITALS THIS SEASON:
Canadiens on the road: 4-6-0
Capitals at home: 7-1-3
The punch-less (and Gionta less) Canadiens come to the nation’s capital to face the Semin-less Capitals. Big news for Caps fans are the debuts of Michal Neuvirth and John Carlson. Neuvirth, the 34th overall selection of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in five NHL games last season. Tonight is his season debut giving Varlamov some rest in the front of a back-to-back. Carlson is making his NHL debut after the Caps selected him 27th overall in 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He has scored 10 points in 17 Hershey Bears contests. In fact, the Capitals defensive draft record is pretty strong for first round selections. Sergie Gonchar, Scott Stevens, and Mike Green are some of their selections from the last two decades. Just ignore the Sasha Pokulok/Joe Finley draft year. Hopefully Carlson can follow in the former’s footsteps. He’s already considered one of the games best defensive prospects.
At six foot-three inches, Carlson has size, strength, skating skills, and puck-moving ability to be a major playmaker along the blue line. Carlson was the London Knights top defenseman last season before helping the Hershey Bears win a Calder Cup. He has top-pairing defenseman upside, drawing comparisons to the likes of Scott Niedermayer. He can be that defenseman that everyone covets. Hopefully this is the start of something great. Even if it is just a cup of coffee.
As for the game itself, it’s been a mixture of good and bad. If your girlfriend dragged you to the new Twilight movie, this is what you missed. An early Fehr goal, put right in his wheelhouse by Mathieu Perreault. Hershey night baby! An Erskine-Laraque rumble. Seriously, is this the Capitals? Open ice hitting, fisticuffs, people getting cleared out in front of the crease. Of course the opponent is Montreal. Bad news is that Poti goes down. Second period and Clark loses his stick while Les Habs score. Tie game. Carlson draws metal with his shot. Would have been nice to register a point in game one. Tomas Plekanec gives the Canadiens the lead. The third roles around. After a Caps penalty kill, Morrison draws what looks to be a power play. Except it’s not. Morrison apparently dove, even though a guy tweened his nuts. Smells of make-up call after Mike Green got away with a free punch non-call. Max Pacioretty blows the most wide open net I’ve seen in quite some time for the visitors. No matter, a penalty and Cammalleri goal puts the Habs up 3-1. Morrison cuts to one and a late penalty means the Caps go a man up for the last part of the game. Exciting finish, but not enough. Caps lost in regulation for only the second time at home this season.
Verdict: Montreal seemed to out hustle the Caps early. Caps came on after the first, but it wasn’t enough. Ovechkin doesn’t seem quite right yet. Nice game by many of the recent Hershey Bears, most notably Perreault. Carlson did well for himself. Looks like another blueliner will be recalled for tomorrow.