Important stuff first: Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec collapsed during a stoppage of play early in the first period. Medical staff rushed to the ice, as Pavelec remained motionless for ten minutes. He was then taken to the hospital where he later regained consciousness. Panic, dread, and confusion filled Phillips Arena during the extended delay, but the stalwart audio crew in Atlanta made sure to drown it out with crass jock rock in the interim. We wish all the best to Pavelec.
The Caps opened this season much like they closed the last one: messily. Through sixty minutes of scrambling, bad turnovers, and awkward attacks, the Capitals stumbled through tonight’s game with the Thrashers like a baby elephant learning to walk. The Caps put 31 shots against Chris Mason and another 28 into various Thrasher players willing to block them. While only Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble were each able to defeat the Atlanta defense once, the opponents found ways to score at every turn. Thanks to a penalty-shot goal from Johnny Oduya, a laser from Andrew Ladd, and a twofer from Evander Kane, the Atlanta Thrashers felled the Caps in the opening bout. Thrashers beat Caps 4-2.
The first bullets of ’10-’11 comin’ at ya.
- It’s been months since our last recap, and much has changed. But our anticipation has been mounting for weeks. Ondrej Pavelec‘s accident on the ice really swept the rug out from under us all. If anyone looked distracted tonight, it’s certainly understandable.
- Even though four tallies were marked against him, Michal Neuvirth looked pretty solid tonight. As is Caps tradition, the goalie was fed to the wolves tonight and suffered some unlucky breaks that he did not deserve. No blame.
- The Thrashers blocked 23 shots. The Thrashers blocked 23 shots. The Thrashers blocked 23 shots. Five of them were Ovi’s. I don’t even want to type the word, but I have to: Habs.
- Johnny Oduya’s penalty shot came from a dubious call. Mike Green allegedly covered the puck with in the paint before scooting it out. We couldn’t see the play with our own eyes, but if Craig Laughlin says it’s bullpuckey– darnit– it is.
- Marcus Johansson went 1 for 8 on the faceoff. I know he’s unfamiliar with NHL faceoffs, but this is just unacceptable. He does look nice skating around though…
- The power play seemed to give up shorthanded opportunities more often than it produced shots on goal. Something is profoundly wrong.
- Hey, at least Mike Knuble got a goal. He’s now on track to score 82 this season. Career-best year coming up- mark my words.
So that was an utter disappointment. The Caps lacked any semblance of composure on defense. They showed precious little deliberation on offense. No set plays, no explosive attacks on the net, no lightning-fast passes. Who were these guys?
The most infectious and exhilarating thing about the Capitals is supposed to be their unquenchable desire to win. Every single game. That team didn’t show up tonight. Maybe it was the scare in the opening minutes, maybe it was the same malaise that haunted the team during the pre-season loss to Predators.
The boys will fly home tonight, get a good night’s sleep, and put on their red uni’s tomorrow. They’ll wake up.
Readers, I wish we could have opened this up for you with fireworks and pomp, but that wasn’t what the night brought us. As a consolation, we offer you these two voicemails delivered by the voice of the Capitals himself, Wes Johnson: