It’s been a wild week for the Washington Capitals. They’ve downed the Flyers, Wings, and those damned Penguins all within a a few days. I was skeptical about the team’s ability to continue the streak tonight against the Coyotes simply because they didn’t have the same emotional motivation they had for the last few games. Well, it seems that the Capitals don’t need mile-high stakes to fight for a game. Tonight’s match against the visiting Coyotes was an opportunity for the so-called “second-tier” Capitals players to shine, and shine they did. The Caps won tonight’s battle against Phoenix 4-2.
I don’t want to keep you from getting your Saturday-night drink on. Let’s play the bullets:
- Alexander Semin secured four points this evening. His goal was a well-timed wrister that found empty air between Bryzgalov and the pipe, but his assists (on all four Caps goals) were even more notable. Particularly, I’d like to focus in on Semin’s pass to Ovechkin at open ice facing an empty net. Semin has somehow become an assist wizard this week, and we love it. He makes the case for buying his sweater a bit easier. If only we could be sure he’ll be around in 2012.
- For the second game in a row, Alexander Ovenchicken Ovechkin found the empty net. If these goals become AO’s only contribution to the score for the rest of his career, I’m totally fine with it. It’s just so darn fun to see the Phone Booth rise to its feet when there’s nothing between the Captain and the net but snow. Before Saturday, exactly none Alex’s 251 goals were scored on Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The Phoenix keeper must have been so terrified at the thought of losing his perfect record, he fled the ice out of fear.
- Eric Fehr is officially on a roll. He’s had three goals in the last five games and is clearly plotting the best season of his career. Fehr also got an assist credit for the game’s opening goal by…
- Brooks Laich. The Unbearable Laichness may have broken the drought that plagued him this winter. Brooksy has said in interviews that his return to point scoring would be due to getting aggressive in the crease (a la Mike “Dirty Jobs” Knuble). The powerplay goal that began the game tells us that Laich has learned his lesson. He may yet see the other side of 20 goals this year.
- Michal Neuvirth returned to the net, and I’ll admit it– I was worried. Neuvy’s last two games were so rough he got pulled, but first-string goalie Jose Theodore desperately needed the night off. Michal might have given up four goals in the first period alone, but wouldn’t-ya-know-it? The kid showed some chops. Only two of thirty Phoenix shots got past him, and those pucks would have gotten past almost any goalie in the league. Even in the chaos of the third period, Mikey kept his cool. He might have even got better during the final onslaught. I’d like to see better rebound control, but even Varly and Theo have trouble there. Overall, well done!
- And speaking of that third period craziness, what was the deal with tonight’s penalties? The Caps and Coyotes spent a combined 28 minutes in the sin bin, and that might have been a charity by the officials. The third period had no shortage of missed calls. You wouldn’t think tensions would be so high between two teams that seldom meet, but the hits and hook and holds were aplenty. If the Coyotes had kept a cooler head, they might have been able to convert their numerous 5-on-3 opportunities. Instead, they gave up penalties in the offensive zone and lightened the load significantly for the Caps PK squad.
- You’d think Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett would have warned his team to take it easy on the penalties as the Caps entered tonight’s game with a nigh-perfect PP conversion record. The home team took two powerplay goals away from the Coyotes, and we hope BB continues to run those PP drills at practice. First in the NHL feels good.
- Lastly, do you remember that photo of Mike Green in quite possibly the worst fur hat ever made? Well apparently Greener has started a terrible trend, because we noticed the exact same atrocity on some rich Caps fan with seats by the glass tonight. Take a look at this photo (fan is to the far left). We’d love to say something witty here, but we seriously don’t understand how someone of good conscience could buy this hat, and then wear it in public. Are we missing something?
Before you ask, my phone has been ringing off the hook with people asking me if I’m wearing Sasha’s wicked grimace t-shirt found here. No, I’m not. The shirt with a perfect record sits in the closet– much to my shame. It was an act of moral cowardice on my part, as I predicted a sloppy loss by the Red team tonight. To our thousands and thousands tens of readers, I apologize.
And finally, I’m in the market for a new Capitals sweater, but I’m crippled by indecision. Several soliloquies and some soul-searching have yielded no results. So I’ve decided that a public hearing is in order. The poll’s the thing wherein I’ll pick a cool sweater to buy. Please help me out!