Third Star (1 pt):
Alan May. May listed his “Keys to the Game” in the pregame show: Force Bryz off his game, check the Flyers D to their backhands, and control and slow the Flyers’ top line of Giroux, Jagr, and Hartnell. Well, despite the fact that the Flyers’ only goal was Giroux from Jagr and Lilja, well... the Flyers’ only goal was Giroux from Jagr and Lilja. Any time a team only gives up one goal, they put themselves in a good position to win, so I’ll give May credit for getting this one right. However, the Caps pretty clearly failed to force Bryz off his game. Maybe if they would have, they’d have been able to score more than one goal themselves. Which only serves to illustrate what we already know: When the Caps listen to Alan May, they win hockey games.
Second Star (2 pts):
Craig Laughlin. Locker was spirited tonight, heaping praise on Ovie’s play of late from the very beginning. He also was pretty liberal with the accolades to Holtby (though pretty much everyone was), and in response to Carlin’s comparison of Holtby to Hextall, countered with one of his own: Jim “Ace” Carey. But most importantly, Locker gave us not one, but TWO BONUS telestrations in the middle of the second and third periods. That was awfully generous of him, though admittedly his “Hold it Here” count ran a little high tonight as a result. He also condemned the Canes as “out of it,” and said if the Caps beat WPG tomorrow, WPG will also be “out of it.” We'll see, Locker... We'll see.
First Star (3 pts):
Rob Carlin. Carlin and Smokin’ Al switched places tonight, with Koken working pre- and post-game duties with Alan May and Carlin taking Koken’s usual position Inside the Glass. Free of Alan’s rather intimidating presence (and despite May’ s wish that a Philly fan “pummels Rob Carlin into submission”), Carlin actually did a remarkably solid job providing factoids and interviews at various points throughout the game. He spoke to Keith Aucoin, Brooks Laich and Karl Alzner tonight (pre-game, first, and second intermissions, respectively) and got along well with all three. Told Aucoin that he was “an easy guy to root for,” and bonded with him as a fellow sleep-deprived parent of recently-arrived twins. During the first period, he hit us with an anecdote about comparisons between Holtby and Hextall, specifically their stickhandling, and how Holtby was honored to even be mentioned in the same breath as a legend like Hextall. Continuing in that vein, he asked Alzner during the second intermission what it was like playing in front of Braden. Alzner responded that it was “like having a sixth skater out there,” and his puckhanding abilities were such a boost for the defense in front of him. Good questions, good rapport, good job all around for Carlin. Seemed to make the most of his chance to get out of the studio. He must really be terrified of going back in with Alan.
As far as last star goes, fuck it. If the editor can go on vacation, I can skip out on a last star. The only other participants tonight were Al Koken, Julie Donaldson, and Michael Jenkins, all of whom did perfectly adequate jobs in their respective roles tonight. As far as intermission reports go, Donaldson is probably the strongest when it comes to calling hockey highlights, and a pretty drastically-improved Jenkins is working his way up to second best. Though neither of them wore red tonight, at least Julie had a blue dress on. Jenkins' outfit was just boring despite the vest. All dark and drab colors. Wear some red, it makes you score higher.
Anyway, I'll see you all tomorrow (or today, by the time most of you read this), where the Caps play a Jets team whose playoff hopes might very well rest on the outcome of tomorrow night's game, at least according to Locker. Hopefully the Caps are up to the task.