It felt like a special night. The Caps’ final match with the Atlanta Thrashers had special gravity: Alex Ovechkin trailed Sidney Crosby in goals scored and Henrik Sedin in total points, Nick Backstrom was hovering right under the 100-point line, and 18,772 Capitals fans were hungry for wings.
Everyone got what they wanted from tonight’s 5-2 walloping. Alex Ovechkin’s and Nick Backstrom’s individual achievements delivered a definitive win for the whole team. With the playoffs imminent, isn’t this exactly what we want to see from our team?
Number one with a Bullet!
- Alex Ovechkin struggled on offense in the early portion of the game. He keeps crossing where he once would go deep, invariably losing control of the puck in the process. But the Russian Machine responds to pressure well, rocketing shots from beyond the circles to score his 49th and 50th goals. Ovie is once again the league-leader in goals and points, and all is right in the world.
- Nick Backstrom is no slouch either. His opening goal was a masterful cleanup off of a Ovechkin rebound was 99, his assist on Ovie’s 50th was 100, and his Wings-earning goal was 101.
- It was synchronicity that Nick’s 100th point and Ovechkin’s 50th goal were earned on the same puck. Pity that poor rubber disc and its impending date with a bandsaw.
- Sorry, Alex Semin. 11 shots. No goal. You’ll get number 40 on Sunday. Promise. For now you can settle, like rest of the top line, for 3 points.
- The first four bullets were all dedicated to the 8-19-28 line, whose dynamic has changed dramatically with Mike Knuble scratched tonight. The garbage man’s constant crease threat was replaced with Sasha’s playmaking. If Bruce Boudreau is comfortable shifting around his most dangerous line during the playoffs, any opponent will have a hard time covering it adequately.
- Jeff Schultz. Holy crap, dude. +4 tonight? Is there such a thing as “running up” the plus/minus?
- In the wake of Ovechkin’s 50th, the Fleischmann-Belanger-Chimera line showed the most intensity of the entire game. After an extended period occupying the offensive zone, new guy Eric Belanger slipped a dastardly pass to sorta-new guy Jason Chimera, who slapped it in from the slot. Great effort from a group of guys who might have been overshadowed by the team’s superstars.
- I love the crowd at Verizon Center, so please forgive me for being a downer right now. Sidney Crosby does not, in fact, suck. As much as we dislike the guy for his bleating, others criticize Ovechkin for his aggression. Between these two gentlemen, hockey is blessed with a wealth of talent. Let’s please do adjust our cheers now. May I suggest a “MARIO’S BASEMENT” chant?
And now we’re down to one. One game separates the Washington Capitals from a post season with will be historic in one way or another. Let’s think of tonight’s game as demonstration of the team playing up to a challenge. The personal accollades will be meaningless in two days; all that’s left is the long road to that silly piece of silver that means the world to us.