Neuvirth Invictus: Caps beat Canes 3-0

Michal Neuvirth makes the save of the year on Eric Staal

Michal Neuvirth robs Eric Staal. (Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck)

The Washington Capitals began their transcontinental road trip in style. Undisputed #1 goalie, Michal Neuvirth, delivered a flawless hour in net to shut the Carolina Hurricanes out at their first home game of the year. While a bothersome number of Caps (Varlamov, Poti, Johansson, Gordon) missed the game, the remaining  players sported great performances. Matt Hendricks converted a nasty supine pass from David Steckel to score the only goal the Caps needed. Nicklas Backstrom recovered a rebound from Mike Knuble to score the second goal, and deposited the third in an empty net.

But it’s Mikey Neuvirth’s first NHL shut-out that captures our imagination tonight. Neuvi stopped 29 shots, half of dozen or more in spectacular fashion. Despite noble efforts, Eric Staal and Joe Corvo simply could not best the Czech prodigy. Caps beat Canes 3-0.

Bullets!

  • Before the game I typed out this note on my 1913 Corona typewriter: Wanna see Nuevy [sic] get his stats to match his talent– above .920 sv% and GAA around 2 — but that might be up to the rest of the Caps. Welp, go ahead and check that off the list. Michal was simply superb.
  • Congrats to Matt Hendricks on his first goal as a Capital. With that hat trick in the pre-season and his eager grit, Hendricks might be George McPhee’s best roster change this year.
  • Matt Hendricks’ goal was clouded by a possible goalie interference call. It seems David Steckel‘s arse colliding with Cam Ward‘s head might violate some deep corners of the rulebook. But no, Ward had left the painted sanctum, opening himself up to a Swiss Medallion. [UPDATE:  here's a good analysis of the play from The Hosers.]
  • Grumpy Canes fan is grumpy (Thanks, @kinstler13)

    Grumpy Canes fan is grumpy (Thanks, @kinstler13)

  • Nicky Backstrom‘s sleepy season opening is now over. He picked up Cam Ward’s leavings on his first goal of the night and sniped his second against a vacant net. Watch out, Niklas Backstrom, Nicklas Backstrom is coming for you!
  • Alex Ovechkin‘s charging penalty was a goof. If the “reckless” reputation from last year really does bug him, he really ought not get airtime when checking his foes into the boards.
  • Mike Green is back! I’d give you his total ice time [Ed. note- 23:43 per Corey Masisak], but NHL.com’s database seems to have the fugue. You’ll have to settle for this:

  • Greenie’s third period tripping penalty was either a blown call or a vicious slew foot, depending on your allegiances.
  • Begrudgingly, Canes leader Eric Staal was worthy opponent. But seeing him lose his composure after repeated denials from our #30 was highly enjoyable. By the end there, Staal was overworked– looking like a frustrated badger tweaked out on nasal decongestants. That’s how the other team should always look!
  • The members of the first line continue to surf slightly different frequencies of the wavelength. There were a few magic passes,  but the precognition and timing that we expect are simply not present yet. Regardless, Nicky Backstrom got two goals, and Knuble got two apples. For a malfunctioning line, that’s pretty great.
  • Neil reports that John Erskine and Tyler Sloan sported +21 and +18 CORSI ratings, respectively, before the NHL database committed seppuku. Damn. We kinda feel bad about that post from earlier now. Good work, boys! We’re happy to be proven wrong.
  • Mathieu Perreault couldn’t match his heavenly performance from Saturday. He and Semin and Laich didn’t even have an offensive zone start through two periods. Nonetheless, he did supply Semin a few nasty chances. That probably balances out the pathetic giveaway and tough times in the defensive zone that followed. Luckily, Nuevi was there to save his French-Canadian bacon.
  • Before Backstrom secured the game, the Canes kept the assault alive in the third. Boudreau relied upon… sigh… Carlzner to shutdown Carolina. 27-74 took 6 of 11 defensive zone starts.
Joe B's suit-of-the-night: mellow

Joe B's suit-of-the-night: mellow

Tonight’s battle didn’t come with the fireworks we might expect from the Capitals, instead it did showed something remarkable and novel: subtlety. The Capitals played a sober and restrained defensive game, leaning a bit on the chippy side at times. Forwards helped out in defensive scrums and shut down the Canes at every chance. The 3rd and 4th lines continued to nip a the heels of the top two. The Caps played a solid hour of hockey anchored by their champion: goofy-faced puck-bigot, Michal Neuvirth.

I doubt that tonight’s game has revealed a new kind of Capitals hockey. The desperate, hungry, goal-fixated aspect of the Caps personality will surely re-assert itself at some point. But while the team is wounded and wandering, I could get used to this.

Note: we might have more notes once the corpse of NHL.com reanimates. Check back if it befits you.

  • http://make-lemons.com Michelle

    Great game by all! Bonus points for Locker and Joe B discussing the Awesomeness of Slash………

  • Peter Hassett

    Yeah, @Michelle! Joe B was out of control tonight. At one point he strung a dozen S-words together without tying his tongue. He’s such a pro.

  • http://thehosers.blogspot.com Colin Bruckel

    It was a great game, and I’d have to say that Steckel’s contact with Ward was not goaltender interference as covered by the rule. In fact, it inspired me to go ahead and go over the rule on my blog:

    http://thehosers.blogspot.com/2010/10/rulebook-interference-on-goalkeeper.html

    Keep it rockin… Neuvirth has been solid… let’s hope he stays that way.

  • Elyssa

    Ummmm ESPN.com is still claiming we won 2-0 and their boxscore was all kinds of screwed up tonight. Glad to see I’m not the only one who noticed.

    And thank you for the point on the Carlzner duo…they have me screaming at the tv at least once every game :o/

  • Elyssa

    **That smiley was supposed to be a slanty mouth, definitely not a smile :(

  • Peter Hassett

    @Colin, thanks for the link– I put it in the body of the post. Good work!

  • Tim

    Neuvy was awesome tonight. That glove save on Staal was unbelievable – how did Neuvy move that fast? The entire team looked good, even the pairing of Sloan/Erskine. And the 4th line continued their usual hustle, and were rewarded this time. I’d say this was their best all-around game so far.

  • http://crzyjewishotaku.deviantart.com Rachel Cohen

    Neuvy’s glove save on Staal= Wow. Just wow.

    Also, someone needs to make a .gif of that Mike Green clip. I lol’d heartily. Oh, Greenie! :’D

  • Mia

    The Mike Green clip needs this in the background:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmGqbOxzAwg&feature=fvst

    ;)

    The glove save on Staal was too amazing!

  • CDizz

    Refreshing to see Sloan have a neutral, if not somewhat…good(?) game. Did not see any big screw ups or turnovers from him and he held his own in the offensive zone. I do not think that, by any count, he should be in the NHL but if BB decides to keep his lapdog, hopefully, he can replicate this performance more often.

  • Peter Hassett

    CDizz, I think Sloan looked great, too. On one play he rushed up to play the trap in a high-risk move that would have been disastrous if he didn’t execute it well. But he did!

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