Souring on Brouwer
The hour for Brouwer on the power play has soured. Once, in the dark old days of an impotent Washington offense bereft of top-six talent, Troy Boy was a consistent bright spot, always to be counted on for a bit of rally-inducing net crashing, or perfectly capable sniping from anywhere within the circles.
In these playoffs, though, Troy’s been a shell of his former self, like a hermit crab with dissociative disorder. He’s missed easy lay-ups in front of the net, either harmlessly fanning on the puck like a harem’s top frond waver, or chipping it high and wide like Tiger with the yips.
The Capitals have enough new talent that Brouwer no longer has to play in the top two lines. That’s a good thing. But in a tight-checking series where every goal (and opportunity missed) has the chance to play either heart attack or defibrillator, if you don’t trust him in your top six, it may be time to turn to someone else when you need one a man up.
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
“They just keep throwing pucks at Holtby,” my girlfriend observed during Game 2. “That’s what the Caps usually try with Lundqvist.”
Exactly, I said.
The book on any Vezina Trophy-worthy goalie is the same: create traffic in front, throw pucks on net, disrupt what he does. It’s an old book, but it’s a reliable one, like PuckBuddys’ Guide to DC’s Hottest Kink Klubs ($11.95 on Amazon). If a goalie is good enough, the only way to best him is to take away the room he has to goalie, take away the time he has to goalie, and simply try to take more shots than he can stop.
Braden Holtby has, in the esteem of the New York Rangers, ascended to this level. Most of the goals scored on him in Games 1 and 2 were the direct result of screens, traffic, and loose pucks hanging around too long on his doorstep, like vulcanized rubber Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It is remarkable that in just a few short seasons, Braden Holtby has risen from AHL backup to Messrs Varlamov and Neuvirth, to streaky-deaky playoff heartthrob, to full-fledged elite NHL goaltender.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match!
Remember before Game 1 when I called for a Kuznetsov-Burakovsky connection, suggesting it could be the sweetest Russian-Swedish pairing since vodka-soaked red gummy fish?
Well look what happened at Kettler during practice today:
A top-six sweater for Burakovsky, which would put him on a line with Kuzy. How delicious.
See you in DC for Game 3 on Monday. Go Caps.