Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are well rested and that your Monday morning isn’t too, well, Monday-y.
If it helps, there is the lingering joy of three points from Saturday, with the Caps dispatching Minnesota United 3-2 in a bit of a wild affair.
It appears this is the match where the Caps finally caught up to their expected goals, though it happened at the expense of some of the defensive solidity that they have come to rely upon. They managed to secure the franchise record for longest shutout streak but an error from Yohei Takaoka, ironically, is what brought it to a close. Ranko Veselinovic had a couple missteps, as did Russell Teibert when he came on.
In truth, the Caps were probably lucky to hang on to get all three points. Twice in the waning minutes of the match, Minnesota had a wide open attacker in the box miss sitters because they tripped over their own feet.
But this shouldn’t overshadow a game in which Vancouver were largely good value for the win, setting aside those second-half defensive issues. Brian White will be massively helped by seeing the ball (twice) hit the back of the net and we hope his injury isn’t serious. Sure, he probably should have had a hat trick but it was his best performance of the year and his pressing was also much welcomed. And it was good to see Simon Becher back to his super sub ways with the decisive goal.
The midfield play sparkled. I was openly critical of Alessandro Schopf starting ahead of Ali Ahmed but the move worked out well, as Schopf had a great performance between a sparkling passing record and a few important tackles mixed in.
Indeed, Schopf is a guy who could certainly kick on and begin to fulfill the promise that his European pedigree would foreshadow. We haven’t seen that potential yet and that allowed Ahmed to enter the picture. He will certainly be back in the lineup for the Canadian Championship on Wednesday and, perhaps, beyond. But it seems a bit of competition might be what Schopf needed to take that next step.
Julian Gressel, meanwhile, was Julian Gressel and Andres Cubas was Andres Cubas. Cubas was man of the match for me, as he forced two turnovers that led to goals and picked up an assist for his efforts.
This was an important win for the Caps and not just because it saw them up to seventh in the Western Conference. As indicated in Friday’s column, Vancouver have a long run of matches upcoming against much better teams (though I’m still not sure what Portland is going to look like on a given night, we will include them in this category).
Minnesota was one of the more straightforward matchups coming up and the Caps will consider themselves lucky to play them twice before they return Emanuel Reynoso, who is ending his holdout and will likely transform the Loons’ attack.
But this was a team that is not lacking for confidence and they played that way on Saturday night. Finally, some of their important players (White, Ryan Gauld, etc.) were rewarded for that confidence, which will certainly start to pay dividends going forward.
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