Everything is right in the world. Let’s put behind us the Olympic tournament, the three-game slide, and the trade chaos. For the next few paragraphs, let us just enjoy the Washington Capitals’ solid 3-1 win over Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres. It wasn’t a barnburner or anything, but after the last few weeks we can appreciate a win that is not coincident with hypertension.
The bullets are back in town.
- This first bullet is dedicated to the quiet 35 minutes that started this game. The Capitals were playing a subdued, nearly conservative game tonight; and I guess that was successful. The lack of fireworks may have been a symptom of the team’s recent upheaval, the Olympic break, Ryan Miller’s mutant powers, or deliberate direction from Bruce Boudreau. It might take a few games for the Caps to return to the beatdown offense that makes us love them. Or maybe it’ll come tomorrow night.
- Jeff Schultz was nasty tonight. 55 has two assists, one blocked shot, and a crucial defusal against on a 4-on-2 situation. For his hardwork, Schultz earned the Palm, not unlike Ian “Blogdor” Oland did at his junior prom.
- “Game Over” Mike Green made the game-winning goal look easy. Following a well-timed pass from Tomas Fleischmann, MG52 gave the puck a whack before the werewolf/goalie from Buffalo could track it. Nota bene, Steve Yzerman: Mike Green can beat Ryan Miller.
- Notably low-key performances tonight from Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Fleischmann, and birthday boy Alexander Semin. In the post-game interview, Coach Bruce Boudreau observed, “All of our Olympians looked a little tired.” That’s fine for now, but no excuse will suffice 20 games from now.
- Eric Fehr and his line dug extra deep tonight. Combined with the effort of the aforementioned Mister Nasty, Fehr earned the opening goal of the game. It’s not hard to construe this performance as a message to GMGM: I deserve to be on this team. He’s got our support!
- The Sabres’ one goal was only half a fluke. Schultz and Green were a bit too out of sorts to competently control and clear the puck, and the 21-9-22 forwards were long gone. The Sabres smartly gobbled up that loose puck, and it oughtta be a lesson to the Caps. Shape up before it costs you the game.
- Did you know that Jose Theodore is a bad ass? I did. He faced only 24 pucks, but a large portion of those were good chances for Buffalo. Theo was aggressive against breakaways, level-headed when rushed, and stout against stuff attempts. The Caps can simply ask for no more of a goaltender than what Jose offered tonight. Semyon Varlamov will be in net tomorrow net against Tampa Bay, and then we might have some goalie drama to unpack. That’s a good problem to have.
Tonight’s game might be an anomaly. When the Caps land in DC late tonight, they’ll have four new players (okay, three and a half). The defense we saw tonight might soon be transformed by the new (and recycled blood) of Joe Corvo and Milan “Juice” Jurcina (who is currently injured). The fatigued Alex Ovechkin and newly-26-year old Sasha Semin should be buttressed by the fans at the Phone Booth. Tomorrow night’s foes, the Tampa Bay Lightning, have provided the Caps some of the most emotional games of the season. It should be (forgive me) electrifying.
(Sorry about that.)