If tonight’s blistering win over the Ottawa Senators is emblematic of anything, it’s our team’s enduring hatred of Canada (America Junior). Yeah, the country’s teams have been problematic for the Caps all season, but Canada really bit off more than it could chew when it overlooked the best defenseman in its country, Mike Green, for the 2010 Olympics. Taken with Tuesday’s victory over the Canadiens and John Carlson‘s OT goal to win the World Junior Championship, tonight’s beatdown is the icy punctuation on the Caps sentence: Eat it Canada. Eat it hard. Eat delicious buffalo wings.
The Caps have been caught unawares in the first period for the past two weeks, but tonight they broke the habit with a goal by… wait– what? Boyd Gordon? We didn’t even know he was playing tonight, and all of a sudden he’s the first on the board. Joined by vet Mike Knuble, the Caps ended the first frame with a two-point lead. The team cooled off, as it alway does, in the second period, but they came back with fury unleashed in the third. The Verizon Center was crackling with energy all night, and we look forward to a report from Ian “blogpocalypse now” Oland on his visit all night.
Let’s do the bullet points.
- Nicklas Backstrom flirts once more with the hat trick to no avail. Craig Laughlin called him “the best center in the NHL”, and he sure played like it tonight. His first goal was from a razor-sharp angle off of Pascal Leclaire’s arm. His second was a textbook wraparound stuff. These goals, only ten minutes apart in the third period, elevated the team’s play into the ionosphere and put a win far out of reach for the visitors.
- Alex Ovechkin ended a two-game scoreless tear with an assist and a goal. And what a goal it was! The Other Great One’s breakaway was a loosely controlled run finished off with a slick backhand. But even if Ovie had stayed off the scoreboard tonight, he was masterful nonetheless. Maybe the “C” has gone to his head, because he was an all-around guy tonight: breaking up plays on D, landing a couple big hits, and submarining Nicky during the celebration after the Swede’s first goal.
- Boyd Gordon scored a goal. After untold eons spent recovering from a back injury, we honestly weren’t expecting much from Gordo. His inaugural goal may not have been pretty, but neither was Backstrom’s first goal of the season (a fluke from center ice against the Islanders). If Boyd can deliver like this with some frequency, he may yet join the pantheon of excellent Caps forwards.
- Mike Knuble is obviously a reader of the Machine. After reading our scathing appraisal of his game on Tuesday, Kanoobie must have spent hours meditating on how to turn around his slump. We accept his first-period goal as penance, but twenty or thirty more points this season wouldn’t hurt his chances of getting into our good graces again. After all, if Mike is going to be playing on the top line (“The Jonas Brothers line”), he darn well better deliver some goals.
- Jose Theodore has got more character than J.D. has got Salinger. The fey netminder with a troubled past hasn’t been in the net since around Christmastime, and there has been too much talk about his frailty. The buzz is that he either lacks the mental fortitude to be the Caps’ principal goalie, or he is completely over the hill. I think tonight’s game proves that neither argument is valid. Only two pucks out of 28 got past Theo tonight, and both of those were slippery ones. A deflection off Mike Green’s skate in the second period ensured Ottawa’s first goal (and continued the Caps’ dismal pattern of deflecting pucks into our own net). The post-goal malaise following Ovie’s coup de grace in the waning minutes of the game found several blueliners out of position and gave Jonathan “Choo-Choo!” Cheechoo an easy in. Those goofs aside, Jose showed flawless resistance against numerous low torpedos, and he gave up little to no rebounds all night. In a post-game interview, Theodore said he is trying to “make the decision easy for the coaching staff to play [him].” When the Caps make their snowbird jaunt down to Florida this weekend, we expect Jose to succeed in getting another nod.
That’s it for the Wizards bullets tonight. Another stupendously entertaining game from the boys from Chinatown. A special salute goes out to the guy with the horn . I don’t know if you’re risking an aneurysm with each breath or maybe Comcast has provided you your own microphone, but the horn was particularly high up in the audio mix tonight. Keep up the good work.
This weekend will find the Caps escaping old man winter’s pederastic grip for the relative warmth of America’s groin: Florida. After beating two Canadian teams in two games, the Caps should hope to keep the pattern up, even at lower latitudes. See you Saturday!