Some of the Caps’ best games this season have been against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and tonight was no exception. Marking Captain Alexander Ovechkin‘s return after suspension, tonight’s bout with the Bolts gave us hits, goals, fights, and — for once– a team that looked truly solid.
Goals from Tomas Fleischmann, the Russian Machine himself, and Alex Semin lifted the Caps above the Tampa Bay team, but the glory of the win must belong to the most excellent Jose Theodore. Stopping all but one of the 34 shots aimed at his net, Jose made tonight’s 3-1 victory possible.
Vernal equinoctial bullets comin’ atcha!
- Jose! Quick, everybody who slung mud at the Caps #1 goalie over the past year, post your phone number in the comments below. I have a lengthy string of swear words and audible crotch thrusts that you need to hear now. Jose Theodore made no glaring errors tonight; and at times he looked as spry as Semyon Varlamov ever could. You might argue that the caliber of shots from the Tampa Bay team (and the silent Steven Stamkos) was not as high as other teams would provide, and you’d probably be right. Still, Jose delivered this win by being the crucial PK unit player and denying the secondary chances that he once would surrender.
- Nicklas Backstrom‘s apotheotic stretch/bank pass to Alexander Ovechkin facilitated tonight’s game-winning goal. Ovie tore past the Lightning defense, suckered goalie Antero Niitymaki, and casually deposited the lay up. Glove kiss, board jump, good old days here again. Ovie (I will always spell it with an “E”) looked fine tonight, if a bit subdued on his physical game. The tally men recorded 7 shots for Ovechkin, a level I’d like to see him visit regularly. With that kind of output, the “Rocket” Richard Trophy is a sure thing.
- Does anyone else wince whenever Ovechkin lands a hit? A.O. was credited with only one tonight, but it was followed by bellows of outrage from the otherwise apoplectic audience at St. Pete’s Forum. This could become a thing.
- Mike Knuble continues to get robbed. Two recent games have found Kanoob’s goals washed out. Both calls were sound, but it doesn’t lessen the pain of denying the Old Man his well-earned glory.
- We all knew Bruce Boudreau would be shuffling the lines a bit before settling for a long playoff run, but I wasn’t expecting this. Mike Knuble spent a chunk of the night with David Steckel and company on the lower line, while Alexander Semin joined the other Alex and Northlander Nick Backstrom on the marquee. Some of this fiddling around might be an artifact the healthy scratches (#needsmorebradley) and Scott Walker’s injury, but it was still deeply unsetting.
- We rejoiced when Tom Poti drew a hooking penalty from Vincent Lecavalier during a pivotal second penalty kill. But then Poti needlessly avenged himself with a roughing call after the whistle, thereby nullifying the advantage gained. After last week’s PKSNAFU (excellently analyzed by our peeps at Japers Rink), you’d think TOM-POTI-LAY would redouble his discipline.
- Scott Walker‘s fight with Zenon Konopka was a sloppy mess and only nominally deserving of a bullet, but Walker did not return to the ice. On trade day, we learned that Scotty has a history of concussion problems, so we’ll be sure to keep you updated if there are any developments. Hopefully, the Russian Machine Sometimes Breaks feature, so popular in the fall, will not be resurrected. UPDATE: Tarik El-Bashir of the WP reports that Scott is day to day with a “tweaked knee.” The injury may have been coincident with the fight without being caused by it.
- Blogbuster Ian Oland is still talking about how good our Dominos Pizza was on Thursday night. Thanks to our delivery man, Manfredis, for delivering such a mighty fine pie. Domino’s Pizza: Get the door. It’s Domino’s.*
The Caps have earned the three-day break they’ll enjoy before beating the Penguins on Wednesday night. with Alex Ovechkin and “Sigmund” Crosby (quoth Craig Laughlin) tied at 45 for the goal lead, their head-to-head battle should have the extra drama that it really did not need at all.
Also, Ian Oland will be covering the Hershey Bears game tomorrow evening. He wants me to tell you that he welcomes surprise hugs and kisses from complete strangers, and also that any questions for the epically victorious Bears can be posed in the comments below.
People, it’s almost 11, and spring is almost here. Get off the Internet and have a good night!
* NOTE: Russian Machine Never Breaks is not even remotely sponsored by Domino’s Pizza.