It would be one thing if the Caps squeaked another narrow win to keep their 9-game streak alive. It’s another thing entirely when the Caps secure that win in another blowout and without the presence of any their typical superstar antics. The 4-1 victory over the Florida (America’s groin) Panthers is owed mostly to garbage man Mike Knuble, who continues to find ways to score that look horrible in a highlight reel. So although the streak continues, this fan’s worries abound.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
- Mike Knuble could have been the first Cap to get a hat trick this season. The 37-year old vet was the lynchpin in three of the four goals tonight, including one uncharacteristic shot from outside the paint. The rest of the team seemed a tad out of sync tonight, so Knuble being a consistent threat at goal mouth was crucial to the win. Knuble is but one of many offensive weapons in the Caps’ arsenal, and that multitude of options baffles D-men. Even if the forwards aren’t playing at peak level, a goal-crasher like Kanoobie can make magic happen. Nonetheless, this is another multi-goal player-game without a single hat.
- Jeff “Sarge” Shultz becomes yet another Cap to snap an over-long goalless streak. According to the team press, that means the entire team’s lineup has scored in the last 12 games. Now all we need is a goal by Neuvi!
- With his assist in the first period, Mike Green has 12 goals and 40 assists in 52 games this season. Yes, that’s 52 pts in 52 games for #52. Here at RMNB we’re just going to speculate that the world is ending in 52 days, too.
- Oh yeah, one more thing about that Green guy. Mike silenced the Verizon Center late in the third period when he kissed knees with Dmitry Kulikov. Mike’s face contorted with pain before he even landed on the ice as fans everywhere held their breath. When Fehr and Schultz carried Canada’s best (and least-liked?) defenseman to the locker room, Mike put no weight on his right knee. Before I was able to print out a headshot of Kulikov, find a tire iron in my car and drive to Chinatown, Green attempted to return to the game. I’m so grateful– not just that Mike Green’s injury is “more of a charley horse” (Boudreau’s words), but also that I did not have to commit a felony assault tonight. Our worries over Mike are not fully assuaged though. The white wizards of the north are currently evaluating the possibility of a suspension for raising an elbow during a hit. Russian Machine finds the likelihood of a suspension to be unlikely, but it does raise the chances of Mike Green defecting permanently the U.S., where he is actually appreciated. Mike, if you’re reading this, you can sleep on my pull-out couch.
- The last time the Capitals won nine games in a row was in 1984. Despite a vicious Twitter interrogation regarding his dating habits at the time, Comcast sportscaster Michael Jenkins refused to confirm or deny that this was the last time he had a girlfriend. We kid because we love, and we wanted to plug Jenks’ great segment on curling tonight. Curling, by the way, is the only sport I can recall where beer is WRITTEN INTO THE RULES.
All joking aside, tonight’s game worries us. The Panthers were the better team for the first twenty minutes and were only stumped by superlative work in goal by Lil Mikey Neuvirth. Even Coach Bruce Boudreau admits he has anxiety over the streak. Like my college roommate, Boudreau is “touching wood all the time, hoping we can continue it.” WTF, Bruce? Well, come Sunday the boys face Tampa Bay, the last team to render a loss for Washington. If the Caps play the way they did tonight, this winning streak will end with nine, and the enchantment of January 2010 will not have carried over.