Photo by Nick Wass/AP
Well, it’s a good thing we got this out of the way. Every hockey team has a measure of bad hockey games in them, so we should be relieved that the Caps disappointing performance came before anyone started keeping track.
After a sterling performance in net by Michal Neuvirth for thirty minutes, Dany Sabourin‘s relief effort fell woefully short. The first shot he faced, courtesy of Nashville’s Cal O’Reilly, got past him. Two of the twelve shots he faced in the third, both from Joel Ward, put the game well out of reach for the home team.
Not that the home team was very determined to win anyway. The best player on the Caps’ offense was Eric Fehr, who sported six shots on goal. Eric traditionally occupies the third line of the Caps offense, but he could headline the top for any of a dozen other NHL teams. Like the Predators, for example.
Mathieu Perreault, filling in for Nicklas Backstrom (14 stitches after blocking a shot against Columbus), looked strong in the first period. Crossing into Predator territory, he would protect the puck like a doting mother hen. But the physicality of the Nashville corps caught up with the shrimpy center, and he faltered in the back half of the game.
Mike Green and Jason Chimera were each sent hobbling to the locker room during separate errant-puck incidents, but neither sustained any real injuries.
What else? Alex Semin had a stick penalty, D.J. King surpassed 10 minutes of ice-time and even looked intimidating on the forecheck, and Alex Ovechkin and Shea Weber spent the day ramming shoulders into one another like a pair of grumpy buffaloes in fast-forward.
We know this team isn’t the real Capitals, so the pain of today’s loss is blunted a bit. Dany Sabourin won’t be the Caps man in the net, and Brian Fahey probably won’t be in a position to commit a double minor in a Caps jersey. The roster will be concretized in the next few weeks, and team must then find its chemistry. Today is an aberration, a curiosity with only dubious value as a hockey game. Think of it as a conversation piece, upon which we might frame these questions:
- What is the nature of Semyon Varlamov’s injury?
- Will Tomas Fleischmann be the second-line center?
- Will Alex Semin be a fixture on the penalty-kill unit?
- Will Karl Alzner and John Carlson be paired together on defense? If so, can we come up with a clever portmanteau?
- Are there any shake-ups to the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble line?
- What music will be on Brian Fahey’s and Dany Sabourin’s iPods on the bus trip back to Hershey?
That’s it for the preseason. Next time we talk, Joe Beninati will probably be wearing a lime-green zoot suit. Hockey’s back, everybody!