“Can you believe we won this???” (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
This third meeting of the Washington Capitals and Atlanta Thrashers was not overshadowed by injury like the season-opener was by Ondrej Pavelec‘s collapse. Instead, we were treated to a cavalcade of slapstick puckery. The puck had a mind of its own tonight, and the game’s three goalies were none too happy about it.
Alex Ovechkin opened it up early with a lucky bounce knocked in by goalie Chris Mason. Mason had already bobbled an earlier shot; this one he knocked in all by himself. Mike Green piled on with a mustache-fueled power play goal hooked up by Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble. Atlanta’s Rich Peverly turned in what was either a world-class goal or a total fluke (we vote the latter). Tyler Sloan dove in front of a shot to lead to a turnover and breakaway for Alex Ovechkin. Ovie’s pass enabled Alex Semin to score a dazzling deke-and-goal that should humble the authors of the All-Star game ballot.
Like an out-of-control garbage truck full of terminally ill kittens, the second period brought destruction and woe to all in its path (i.e. the Capitals). Andrew Ladd scored one and Bryan Little scored two, the last of which was a shorthanded breakaway furnished by the careless puck control of our very own Russian Machine.
The third period languished on for 13 minutes before John Erskine– yes, that John Erskine– rocketed the game winner past relief goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Then David Steckel found the empty net as Capitals players are so eager to do.
Phew, that was exhausting. Caps beat Thrashers 6-4.
Conserve your bullets for the coming zombie apocalypse
- John Erskine: one assist away from a Gordie Howe. John Erskine: clashing titan with lightning-fast fists of concrete and clay. John Erskine: moustachio’d man’s man to whom Alan May is now erecting a statue. Big John: you were excellent tonight; we salute you!
- Here’s a bullet dedicated to John Erskine’s cataclysmic battle royale with Eric “Michael” Boulton. After a sustained exchange of heavy hooks, John shoved Eric into the boards and breathed his musky breath on Boulton as the linesmen pounced on them. Epic stuff by both warriors.
- Alex Ovechkin doesn’t get any such gushing congratulations. His assist on Semin’s goal was vintage Ovi and his first goal a happy accident, but that’s about it. His puck control was insufficient, and his cough-up to the Thrashers on that second-period power play was the low point of the night.
- That second period was awful, awful, awful. Unlike last night’s offensive absenteeism, this disaster period was plagued by bad turnovers and unlucky bounces. Why must the Capitals face a messy period like this once every game?
- Coach Bruce Boudreau is probably just as upset as we are. In reaction he favored his grinders: Steckel, Bradley, Hendricks. Each of those guys floated around 14-15 minutes of ice time tonight, while the top line stayed south of 20 minutes each.
- How smart was it to play those checking lines? Considering the dismal performances from Ovechkin and Backstrom (both minus-4 Corsi), pretty darn smart.
- Instead of 8 and 19, it was Mike Green and Jeff Schultz who had offensive gumption. Each had plus-7 even-strength scoring-chance differentials. Each was on ice for 11 Caps’ chances for at 5v5, season highs for any Caps skater. Objectively, the Caps defense is not outperforming the offense.
- Heartfelt sympathies go out to the goalies on both teams. Some prankster must have coated the pucks in flubber before the game. Demerits are in order. It’s ridiculous of us to expect Michal Neuvirth to stop a puck that crawls up his chest and hops off his helmet on the way to the net. You’ll get it back, Mikey. No harm, no foul.
Wow. Does this win the record for longest RMNB recap or what?
Think about it this way: The Capitals played two uneven and clumsy games of hockey this weekend and still took away three points. It could quite easily have been none. The Caps keep snatching points in this still-early season, and they keep learning different ways to lose hockey games without actually losing. So there’s that.
Post script: We totally blew it. Can anyone hook us up with a picture of Joe Beninati in his (birthday) suit? Much appreciated.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.