Tonight The Washington Capitals began the second half of their (championship) season. Coming off a three-game slide, it was imperative that the boys show some aggression tonight. That they did– in a barn-burning 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Caps now have a perfect record (1-0-0) while I wear my Russian Machine Never Breaks t-shirt.
Tonight’s game marked Alexander Ovechkin‘s first game as captain. We at the Machine don’t actually understand what this means, but we can say with certitude that the embroidered “C” looks totally bad-ass on his sweater. And while the difference the new captaincy brings to the team cannot yet be quantified, we know the Caps were a Brand New Team tonight. After a glut of lifeless play in the games following former-captain Chris Clark‘s exit, the boys were back in a big way at Verizon Center this evening. And the icing on the cake? Our boy, the controversial Alexander Semin, gets the lion’s share of the credit for the win tonight.
All that and more after the jump!
- Alexander Semin played tonight like we all knew he could. He was aggressive and quick all night, and he converted that effort into two stunning goals. His first was a characteristically beautiful wrister, but the second one was the real marvel. Little Sasha’s second goal was a muscular slapshot that would be more typical of the other, hairier Alexander. Gotta say it: we’re relieved that Sasha had a great game. Hopefully this will quiet some of the chatter that had come about during the six scoreless games preceding this one.
- Tomas Fleischmann moved to center tonight and made a heluva show out of it. Flash’s goal in the second period injected megajoules of energy into the team, and he set the tone for the rest of the night. A bad bounce off his stick perpetrated the Habs’ first goal, but Tomas remained an offensive force for all sixty minutes. At center, Flash grabbed 6 of 9 puck drops, which is a significant improvement over some other Caps *cough*Backstrom*cough*. Here’s hoping Bruce likes this new position as much as we do.
- Michal Neuvirth showed grace under pressure. Neuvy the newbie faced a bunch of tough situations tonight, but he showed resolve in each. We dutifully consider both goals by the distinguished competition flukes, and aside from one notably lazy rebound, the kid was a dynamo. Glove stops and a bold kick shut down the Canadien offense. With Semyon Varlamov nursing a resurgent groin injury (sadly, we’ve run out of crotch jokes), and Jose Theodore nursing a brusied ego, we can rest easy knowing Little Mikey’s in the crease.
- D-man Tom Poti nearly had a career-game tonight, but then he remembered that he’s Tom freakin’ Poti, and he will never ever score on a breakaway. Nonetheless, Tom was +1 for the night and dove in front of shots in a downright Laing-ian fashion. Now if he could just learn to clear the darn puck while on PK duty…
- Mike Green was not able to score on several attempts tonight, but he still brought some of that world-famous Canadian violence in his HALF HOUR of ice time tonight. Greenie’s performance probably doesn’t merit a recap bullet, but we made him a bangin’ t-shirt, so this is just a shameless plug.
- John Carlson might not have been in the phone booth on Tuesday, but he had an epic night anyway. Carlson scored two goals, including the game winner, in the World Junior Championship against Canada. We consider this only one chapter of many in our tale of revenge against the country that snubbed Greenie. Well played, kid. Can’t wait to see you back in red!
- Mike Knuble. Oh boy. Kanoobie gave up two minor penalties in the third period, reminding us of some of the Caps’ bad habits from earlier this season. Due to some bold penalty-kill work by Matt Bradley and others, only one of those penalties bore a goal. Still, we expected better from you, old man.
- And finally… David Steckel signs an extension (per Capitals Insider). Oh boy!
Be honest. Before the game, you thought the story of the night would be the Russian Machine donning the “C”, right? We did, too. And while the Great 8 delivered exactly no points this evening, his leadership might have been the difference-maker. Tonight we saw some of the wonderful “secondary” (or is that tertiary?) scoring that make the Caps positively lethal to opponents. If that’s what Ovechkin-as-captain means, we have a lot to be excited about.