The last two Caps games have had us reeling. We suffered a wild beatdown from the Lightning on Tuesday, replete with spats and brawls, and then a soaring come-from-behind win over the Panthers, also punctuated with fights. Returning back to the Verizon Center for a game against Maple Leafs, you’d think the Caps would offer us a reserved performance of surgical offense and careful defense. Instead we got a bronco-busting, goal-splattered free-for-all. We’re not complaining. Before the third period could end, The Caps and Leafs showed us a series of spats that could tide us over for weeks. The final frame of this heavyweight bout devolved into a fight of Greene Turtlian proportions. If our boys weren’t ahead by five goals, we might have been a bit sour on how it played out.
Let’s dissect the
fight hockey game:
- The Russian Machine is running on all cylinders. Alexander Ovechkin‘s opening goal would have set the tone for tonight’s game, but he failed to crash the net and instigate a fight while scoring. Four other assists on the night gave Ovie a 5-point game and clenched the Palm Restaurant Player of the Game award. Alex, we recommend their Jumbo Nova Scotia Lobster. The thing is like a massive, butter-covered, prehistoric crustacean. By the way, tonight’s goal puts Ovie ahead of Gaborik and immediately behind Marleau and Crosby for the goal lead. Now if those guys can miss 12 games, I bet we’d have a real horse race.
- Mike Knuble wanted the hat, but the hat did not want him. In yet another multi-goal night for a Caps player, Mike earned both his goals by getting up close and personal the netminder. Given the rest of the teams propensity for angle-searching and sniping, this works great. I think we need to officially retire our criticism of Knuble from weeks ago. He’s had five goals in the last five games, after all. You can’t argue with those numbers.
- I honestly thought we could go a whole season without writing about Shaone “the other” Morrisonn. His minus-3 rating at Tampa Bay made us scornfully quiet, and he rarely gives us much to coo over. But when Colton Orr delivered a crosscheck to Mike Green’s dome, Shaone was on him like a junkyard dog. Shoane got in every hit he could, and allowed Colton only two sloppy sledges to the back. There’s little that can bring a team together like sticking up for one another, and I bet Shaone got his thanks in the locker room. From us at Russian Machine, Shoane, you get a hood pass 4 life.
- In addition to Alex and Knuble, Mike Green, Alex Semin, and Nick Backstrom had a multi-point night. It’s great to see that the top scorers are actualizing, but as springtime draws nearer, we want to see these points spread out among Fehr, Flash, Morrison, and Laich. I have this fantasy of winning the Cup in a 10-0 shutout (Theo in net), where every line scores and Green gets the hat trick. Also, free buffalo wings. What can I say? I’m a dreamer.
- The Leafs put only 29 shots up against Jose Theodore tonight, but he stopped 28 of them. I’m not sure what made one of the NHL’s highest-shooting teams get gunshy tonight, but on behalf of Jose’s fragile ego, THANKS. Even if it wasn’t a good night for the Leafs’ offense, we can’t deny that Theo showed grace under pressure, especially in the waning minutes of the third. He dealt with long stretches of 5-on-3, more than one rush on net, and a heckuva lot of traffic behind him. CSN coverage showed a few Caps patting the netminder on the head at game-end. This pleases us. (Still, get well soon, Varly!)
- After all the fanfare that went with winning our first inaugural “Gordie,” we think Jason Chimera finally understood why we traded for him in the first place: Forecheck, be responsible in your own end, and beat the living crap out of people. While we admire his vigor, Chimmy might want to pick his spots better. He got his coached fined $10,000 and he earned an automatic one game suspension for his fight with Jay Rosehill with 2:38 remaining in the third period. Chimera was assessed an instigator penalty, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct. Well, there goes our only tough guy for Sunday’s matinee against the Flyers. Freakin’ Great.
- John Carlson was called up late this morning from the AHL Hershey Bears to replace Brian Pothier. Only problem: He arrived at Verizon Center around 6:10 after flying in from Albany. Tarik El Bashir reported that The rookie skated 14:32, put two shots on net and earned the red hard hat from his teammates for the effort. The best part of the night, though, was the ovation he received when the starting lineups were announced. It was a ‘thank you’ for his OT goal in the gold medal game at the world junior championships earlier this month that lifted Team USA to a win over Canada. “It’s pretty cool when you get cheered on like that,” Carlson said. “It’s cool to recognized like that. But you have to make sure to stay focused on the game, so they’re still cheering for you after the game, too.”
- The Capitals are now 1-0-0 when @DookFn wears our Russian Machine Portrait T-Shirt to the Verizon Center. Flippin’ Sweet!! [Photo Here]
The struggle now is to find where tonight’s game fits into the season-long Capitals narrative. Did we witness another freak occurrence, or are the Caps under Ovie’s leadership a team of brawlers? Is The Horn Guy jealous that the Capstronaut got to hang out with Leonsis? How long until the lower bowl of the phone booth is filled only with RMNB t-shirts? My friends, I have no answers for you. We shall find out together.
Our next three games pit the Capitals against the Flyers, the Red Wings, and Penguins. Although most of the remainder of the season will be held at home, the season’s calendar is obviously not getting any easier. Maybe the smashmouth style of hockey we’ve seen this week is what it’ll take to win the Cup. Honestly? I hope not.