Game Over. (Photo credit: Luis M. Alvarez)
Traditionally, Sunday games have been trouble for the Washington Capitals. The crowd might be docile, the ice sloppy, the players hungover; doesn’t matter. Quoting Ovechkin: “It was a five o’clock game. Usually you take a nap at this time.”
Tonight’s bout with Eastern Conference-rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, was remarkable enough to wake the players from their expected slumber. The Flyers, riding a five-game winning streak and leading the league in penalties, brought the smash-mouth brand of hockey that we expected and did not permit the Caps to play lazy.
Flyer Nikolay Zherdev beat the Caps’ new goalie, Braden Holtby, on a two-on-one to open up the game. Eric Fehr responded with a low-probability/high-awesomesauce snipe from a wide angle. Ville Leino (who it turns out is a person and not a cozy Italian hamlet) got improbably lucky off a deflection to put the Flyers up 2-1. Alex Semin tied the game up on a power-play sweep-in, and there the scored remained until the end of regulation. The specter of a Sean O’Donnell boarding penalty chased the Flyers into OT, which Mike Green turned into an OTGWG. It wasn’t the raucous glove-dropper we were expecting, but a W is a W: Caps beat Flyers 3-2 (OT).
Unordered list of list items!
- 29 seconds into a overtime, “Game Over” Mike Green launched the puck netward. Deflected by Flyers D and screened by Knuble, the puck found its mark. Green is on a 4-game goal streak/5-game point streak. Forget the James Norris Trophy; Green is gunning for the Chuck Norris Trophy (“awarded to the defensive player so rad he cures one disease and invents another to replace it”).
- Braden Holtby took a pensive breath before taking the ice before the game. That was the only sign of hesitation in the goalie. Composed but aggressive: that’s how we’d describe it. 23 saves on 25 shots. Lots of new fans are learning about the Caps’ new star in net and his Holtbyisms, but not you, distinguished RMNB readers. You already knew. For his efforts, Holtby earned the Palm.
- Braden double-bullet! Regarding his rebounds, Holtby said, “I know I can compete at this level now, but there’s a lot of things I need to work on and it was pretty evident tonight.” I’m reminded of a familiar aphorism from Ben Franklin about how all one needs to succeed in life are humility and Holtbyisms. I think beer was in there, too. I’ll dig up the quote and get back to you.
- Speaking of Mike Knuble, the funk continues. It’s like a Bootsie Collins box set up in here.
- Even when you were panicking, I knew we’d win. How did I know? The roster sheet had jersey fifteen on it. The Caps remain undefeated in every game Boyd Gordon in which has suited up.
- Tyler Sloan and John Erskine are the most maligned defensive pairing for the Capitals, and tonight that isn’t fair. Besides the misread play that led to the Flyers’ first goal, Tyler and Big John were on point. Sloan had a was good on both ends, and Erskine had a smart assist on F16′s goal and one NFL-style tackle and smear.
- Brooks Laich missed some ice time after an upper-body injury. Corey Masisak (who has unfollowed us on Twitter despite our typo-laden pleadings not to) reports that Brooks wanted to return, but was rebuffed by team physicians.
- Nick Backstrom took 26 faceoffs tonight. Do you even care how many he won? Fine. It was 16.
- For the millionth time (rough estimate), the Caps sent an opposing player hobbling to the bench after striking him with a puck. Tonight, two-way superstar center Mike Richards was puckified by Alex Ovechkin. Richards joins the ranks of Anton Volchenkov, Zdeno Chara, and Tim Gleason. The aim-for-someone’s-face-and-release tactic should be a core part of the Caps playbook by now.
This was precisely the kind of match-up the Capitals need to win to match the ridiculous expectations we fans create for them. Luckily, this team is as passionate as we are imperious. We’ve seen Alex Semin and Mike Green extend their streaks (while Mike Knuble extends his), Eric Fehr return to prominence, and the inauguration of a stunning new talent in net. Not bad for a sleepy Sunday night.
See you on Tuesday from the Earthly hell that is Long Island. Yech.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.