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.
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.
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