Tim Thomas: impenetrable (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
You’d think the Capitals, after suffering two consecutive beatdowns at the hands of the Boston Bruins, would have the good sense not to face them again. In spite of that, the NHL overlords decreed that they should meet again on this fifth of November.
After a quiet first period, marked only by a Tyler Sloan goal (whaaaa?), the Caps provided an explosive second period– quickly becoming the team’s signature period– to lead 3-0. The Bruins then excused superlative goalie Tim Thomas in favor of Tuukka Rask and scored three unanswered goals themselves, earning Michal Neuvirth the hook. Enter Braden Holtby and cue John Carlson, provider of the GWG– a perfect slapshot immediately after the faceoff. With the Boston net vacated, Alex Ovechkin tasted blood in the water and sealed the deal. Caps beat Bruins, thankfully, 5-3.
- Woot! Tyler Sloan scores his first of the season right after the face-off early in the 2nd period– a stunning slapper from high circle. It looked like a Knuble tip-in to me, but that might be because Ian and I have a bet about Knuble’s goal production this year.
- Tim Thomas entered tonight’s game with .977 SV / 72 GAA and left riding the bench. The Caps used the second period for the explicit purpose of urinating on those statistics. Tuukka Rask, fresh off the freighter from Dantooine, tended net in the final frame.
- John Carlson‘s slapper is worthy of remark. With the game tied at 3, Carlson took a faceoff slapper, aided by an Eric Fehr screen, and created the game-winning goal.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s empty netter in the final minute showed both a sense of urgency and globetrotter-osity that we don’t get to see nearly enough. After some wild scrambling at and below the goal line, Ovechkin plopped the puck into the net, humbling the twice-victorious Bruins. Otherwise, not a strong game from the league’s best player: -1 scoring differential, -7 Corsi.
Braden Holtby: 100 SV%, 0.00 GAA. Welcome to the NHL, sir. Your WTF moment will look good in a career retrospective video package.
- Alphabetically challenged circus freak Zdeno Chara with minus-4 and zero shots on goal. Excellent dessert, poor defense.
- Alexander Semin continues his streak of acting like he’s the best dude in NHL. His short-handed grundlewhistler, facilitated by Mike Green, showed the weakness in Tim Thomas’s net protection. Semin is officially streaking. Bonus: no stick penalties. This is the Sasha we want to see in the playoffs.
- Mike Green didn’t explode out of the gates this year, but he’s now recorded three goals in three games. He showed inimitable patience on his tally tonight, outwaiting Gregory Campbell and Tim Thomas before pulling the trigger. Lovely top-shelf goal. Let’s try out a new nickname for 52: Slow hand.
- Boyd Gordon had seven of his eight starts in defensive zone. He was +7 Corsi with 67% FOW% in defensive zone. The Bruins managed no even-strength scoring chances while he was on the ice. Emphasis needed: The Caps are unbeaten in every game Gordon has played.
Bonus photo: Telestrating genius Craig Laughlin goes a bit overboard with the Semin bio pics during intermission.
Excusing that first period and its panoply of lazy dump-ins, this was a riveting game of hockey. The Caps led the Bruins in shots 39 to 18. The Caps are quickly making the center frame dangerous for opposing teams, and find their competence on offense and defense alike. If they can firm up the looseness of the third period, this team will claim their rightful spot at top of the league.
The Caps have a homer against the Philadelpha Flyers on Sunday in the late afternoon. On a Redskins bye week and against an eastern conference rival, this should be a rowdy game.
Additional Reporting: Neil Greenberg
Executive Producer: Greg Landrum
Special Guest Star: Heather Locklear