We’ve dwindled down to the final five games of the season, but despite the doldrums, the Capitals showed up to play tonight. Even if most of the viewing audience was busied with the NCAA basketball tournament, this rare meeting of the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets was solid hockey. Columbus came out extremely hard, seemingly ignorant of the fact that the team was gutted at the trade deadline, their head coach has been fired, key players are hurt and the team is 12 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot.
The “Blazers” as Joe Beninatii constantly referred to them as, had odd man rushes all night long, but failed to convert almost every time because of solid goaltending from Jose Theodore or generally poor execution. Columbus’ wealth of penalties seemed to doom any chance for them to reach a crucial early lead. And despite the Capitals giving up a third period tally – which forced Bruce Boudreau to call a timeout and have an expletive-filled dress down of the team – the Blue Jackets could not force Overtime. Thus leading to the Capitals making history.
Tonight we’re going to call the bullets “Easter Eggs.” We don’t want to scare the children:
- The first five minutes of the game’s broadcast on CSN were plagued by technical problems. Instead of glorious HD, we stared at this entrancing image (at right) while a lofi audio played for us.
- Even though we missed a quarter of it, that first period was a blockbuster. Through three goals (Semin, Fleischmann, Green), the Washington Capitals resuscitated the explosive starts that made them so dangerous earlier this season. Also it does wonders for the RMNB staff’s collective blood pressure.
- Jose Theodore is a superb goalie. It’s time for us to dismiss any discussion of “making a case” for the starting spot in the playoffs. Jose Theodore led the Caps to their epic streak, and played up to the competition in big games against Detroit, Pittsburgh and others. One-upping Semyon Varlamov’s excellent performance the other night, Jose recorded 34 saves on the evening and never looked overwhelmed.
- Alexander Ovechkin, where are you? 0 shots on goal through the first two periods, and hardly a presence on offense. The funk is now a problem, and it has to end. Like now. Since the Russian Machine’s last multi-goal game March 8th against Dallas he has exactly two goals. 8 Capital players since have the same number or more. Один в поле не воин!
- Returning Tomas Fleischmann to 2nd-line center may have been a necessity given B-Mo’s injury, but it worked out pretty well tonight. Flash won all of his faceoffs through the first 20 minutes, and 83% through the second. Add to that his powerplay goal and you’ve got a slump-ending performance from number 14. The key for Fleischmann is continuing to improve on his draws and be at least passable in the dot. If he can, we predict Bruce Boudreau will leave him at center and the Capitals will have two powerful lines heading into the playoffs.
- Mike Green‘s 5 on 3 powerplay slapshot was aided by a great screen from Brooks Laich and earned MG52 his 19th goal of the season. Two periods later, Green almost made that an even twenty during a wild scrum with C-bus goalie Steve Mason. But what got Greener this bullet tonight was his superlative defense. Bruce Boudreau raved about his prized pupil after the game saying that “Everytime he was on, he was a force defensively.” We honestly think there’s been no defenseman more deserving of the Norris Trophy this year or last. Unfortunately there’s no chance he’ll ever win until the people up north see him more than a glorified 4th forward.
- Is it just me, or did Jason Chimera play with extra heat tonight? I dig it. And yes, he did get screwed out of a 1st-period goal.
- There’s no other way to say this: Rick Nash owns the Caps shorthanded.
- And while we’re talking about Columbus, they sure have some weird fans. If you were like us, you were totally locked in on that guy sitting directly behind the Columbus bench wearing a Pixies T-Shirt. Kind of an odd wardrobe decision for a Saturday Night Hockey Game, eh? However, the reason why he got a mention tonight was because for a dude that likes great music and probably owns the best seats in the house, he could not have looked more prissy being there.
- Finally, not only did the Capitals set a franchise record with their 51st win on the season, the Hershey Bears set an AHL Record with their 58th victory tonight against the Syracuse Cruch. Hell, the South Carolina Stingrays even won too. We advise our readers to enjoy it while it lasts and not expect such organizational dominance in the future as the Hershey Bears probably have 10 NHL caliber players with guys like Karl Alzner, Andrew Gordon, Bryan Helmer, Steve Pinizzotto, Sean Collins, Mathieu Perreault, Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth filling out the roster. Players like this will eventually be promoted, plucked away or traded, but it sure has been an incredible run hasn’t it?
With back-to-back games coming against the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins Monday and Tuesday Night, we’ll be interested to see how Bruce Boudreau handles the minutes of some of his top players and who he actually gives a jersey to. Lately he’s been consistently rolling lines and focusing on keeping guys fresh while still being just aggressive enough to win games. We couldn’t be more supportive of this game-plan right now, especially with the President’s Trophy all but won. Plus, anytime we see Mike Green logging well under 30 minutes played, and the Capitals are still winning, we’re extremely pleased.
Anyways, to all of our readers, we wanted to extend to you well wishes and a Happy Easter tomorrow. To the team we’d like to say, we hope you enjoy your day off. Because once you wake up Monday, it’s gonna be 4 games in 7 nights and then the playoffs start. Oh boy!