Brooks Laich celebrates his OTGWG. (Photo Credit: Joe Howell)
With Tom Poti and Mike Green out due to injury, we all knew that the Caps’ defense was going to be a little bit suspect tonight. But really, the main issue for the visiting team ended up being their collective effort. Case in point was the opening face-off where Tomas Fleischmann lost the draw cleanly to Cal O’Reilly. He then turned and watched helplessly as Steve Sullivan raced past his four other unprepared teammates and went in alone on Michal Neuvirth.
But for Neuvy, it was no big deal. He stone-walled Sullivan 8 seconds in. He stone-walled five Predator powerplays, including 29 seconds of a 5 on 3. And he made 37 saves in total to collect his fourth straight win.
Thanks to ten minutes of actual hard-work in the third period and two minutes of pure domination in the extra session, the Capitals leave Bridgestone Area with a huge 3-2 character victory.
Onto the bullets!
- Nashville’s fans really suck. Sorry, there’s no other way to put it. I’m not Peter and I don’t have a thesaurus. Watching tonight’s game was so booooorrring, and only half of it was because Al Koken did the play-by-play. In the first fifteen minutes of the first period, I didn’t count a single chant or cheer. The only thing I heard was muffled conversation and train whistles (don’t get me started on that). This isn’t a book club people, this is a hockey game.
- Many of the statistics tonight were flat-out horrifying: John Erskine led all Caps with 8:14 of ice time in the first period, Jordin Tootoo had more shots on goal (5) than Alex Ovechkin (3), and Brian Fahey spent 1:32 on the powerplay. But a win’s a win, right?
- Speaking of Fahey, in his NHL Debut, he finished the night -2, the worst on the team. He still deserves our congratulations however, for not looking that out of place.
- In substitution of Mike Green on the powerplay, John Carlson was both awesome and reckless. At times, he looked like a natural, a Green Life clone. At others, it looked like he was expecting Karl Alzner to swoop in and save the day when he pinched in deep. Unfortunately for Captain America, his defensive buddy was Alex Ovechkin. And that guy’s not too concerned for defense on the power play. The Predators ending up having several high-quality scoring chances during the Capitals man advantages including a breakaway in the second period. Worse yet, Carlson was credited with 4 giveaways on the night. No other Capital had more than 1.
- Tomas Fleischmann went 1 for 12 in the face off dot tonight. Ugh. How about we just give him a free pass for slamming home the Capitals second goal of the night when things still looked grim?
- JP says that through five games, Jeff Schultz leads he #Caps in ice time and has yet to be on for a single goal against. That’s an incredible stat.
- Also, incredible: the Capitals have killed off all 21 powerplays that they’ve faced this year. What’s the difference? Could it be because Alex Semin is now a PK regular? No. But a man can dream!
- Lil’ Mikey Newbear reminds me of Nikolai Khabibulin. Much like the Bulin’ Wall, Neuvy sags deep in the crease and is very, very strong when challenged. Neuvy basically stole the win tonight. He never got flustered at any point – even after he took a slapshot to the mask in the late stages of the second period.
- I’m sure Nicklas Backstrom won’t be suspended for his dirty hit on Marcel Goc, but boy was that dangerous and out of character. Goc left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Katie Carrera reports that Barry Trotz was fuming when he met with reporters after the game. And I don’t blame him one bit. If that was one of our guys, I’d be p#$$ed off too.
- Finally, what drew that 4-on-3 powerplay in Overtime? Alex Ovechkin going ONE ON THREE in the offensive zone. Brooks Laich gets credit for deflecting the Russian Machine’s point shot home on the GWG, but once again, the Great 8 was money when it mattered.
Waiting in the wings this upcoming week will be the Bruins, whom the Caps have a home-and-home with Tuesday and Thursday. Hopefully by then, our heroes will be all healed up and ready to go. If we take anything from tonight’s game it’s that the Caps are talented enough to coast for two periods and win in the third period, much like last year. And that’s really a bad lesson to learn.
The Caps need to be consistent. To take weaker, more-inferior teams and punish them for even getting on the same ice as them. I know the Predators were 3-0 coming into tonight’s game, and the Caps were missing some of their studs. But they are a better team. Play like it!