Chuck Kobasew starts the scoring for the Wild (Photo Credit: Jim Mone)
For those of us wondering if the Caps can string together two good games in a row… no.
All the way up in exotic Minnesota, the Caps faced the almost-unknown Wild but left their A-game in Raleigh. The travelling Caps’ ennui was strong, but the Wild’s fans’ was stronger. This sleepy twaddle of a game was a waste of even Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin’s time, as the commentators spent a decent chunk of the night observing the finer points of referee trousers.
The Caps’ forwards were stingy on shots, mustering only four in the first period. They didn’t do too much better in the latter forty minutes either, totaling a meager 22. The Wild didn’t need a lot of shots to score (goals from Chuck Kobasew and Mikko Koiku), offering only 17. That, apparently, is enough. Despite a late goal from Alex Ovechkin and a case of too-little-way-too-late, Minnesota won the night. Wild beat Caps 2-1.
- Backstrom vs. Backstrom did not disappoint as a bout. As a Caps fan, however, it was a total bummer. Evil Nik’s save on Good Nick’s wrister in the final minute was perhaps more devastating than Neuvi’s against Eric Staal the previous night.
- The Minnesota Wild have the quietest audience I’ve heard. They make Phoenix look rowdy. That austere silence must have unsettled the Caps, who usually feed off noise. After goals and penalties, the fans could offer hardly more than spatterings of detached, Wimbledon-sized applause.
- The Caps didn’t have their first chance to score until 5:18 remained in the first period. By that time, Minnesota had five chances and one goal. Zzz.
- Maybe the Caps weren’t bored. Maybe last night’s 60-minute effort was too much to maintain. Hope not.
- Credit or blame: Chuck Kobasew scored the night’s first goal after a great goal-line pass from former Cap Andrew Brunette, but defender John Carlson had bad stick positioning and might have actually fallen asleep standing up.
- You know what wakes you up? A puck to the schnoz. Carlson caught an unlucky pop in the second period. He immediately dropped his stick and trotted off to the locker room. I don’t want to see the guy disfigured, but it’s not like he’s Jose Theodore or anything. (Carlson didn’t miss any time.)
- Dammit, Jose. I saw you pat Koivu after that goal. Judas!
- Alex Ovechkin‘s lovely wrister goal was a stroke of mercy from the hockey gods. What a beaut!
- Not exactly a revelation, but Mike Green is clearly not 100% yet. He’s a bit too sheepish (but not demon sheepish) on slapper opportunitites, and he was visably wincing after one shoulder-to-glass hit. Regardless, MG52 led the team with a solid half hour on the ice!
- Michal Neuvirth hits his two goals-against quota and then erects a wall. Classic. If the forwards can produce their signature three-plus goals a night, that’s a formula for success.
- Jason Chimera charged Bizarro Backstom. Unfortunate, unnecessary, unwise. But man, he is quick.
- Let’s hope Mathieu Perreault isn’t flaming out. He took all of his starts in the offensive zone, but had a -3 scoring differential at even strength. His was -1 on his CORSI, 20% on the faceoff, and had one giveaway. Oh, and a single shot on goal. Hey Perry, tell Andrew we said hello when you hit Hershey.
- Mike Knuble is breaking my heart. He was up in Nega-Backstrom’s face all night. He and 616-universe Backstrom accounted for six of the Caps’ 13 scoring chances, but converted none. Unleash the fury, guys.
The Caps can’t win if they play only ten minutes of real hockey each night. The fifty minutes of fake hockey that preceded weren’t fun to watch, and I bet they weren’t fun to play either. Judging by the rage splotches erupting above Bruce Boudreau‘s neckline after the game, the trip to Calgary may contain more swear words than Casino (with slightly fewer exploding cars).
Here’s the part where we buck up, finding some glimmer of hope that we will tide us over until the next game. So here it is: The Capitals don’t have to play Earth-prime Backstrom and his Wild again for at least a year.