Varly Triumphs, Caps beat Habs 3-0

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Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

The Washington Capitals finally met their playoff pals, the Montreal Canadiens, for the first time since that awful, awful night. Recently de-Halak‘d, the Habs remain a formidable team and one that the Caps had no trouble getting amped up to face.

Hershey import Jay Beagle got on the big board first with a stunning no-look, behind-the-back, knick-knack, paddywack shot over Carey Price’s shoulder. Mike Green took a  freight train into a timing play to make it 2-0 off a Nicky Backstrom pass. The score was unchanged until Price abdicated his throne, which is like chumming the water to a shark like Alex Ovechkin. His empty netter finalized the score. Caps beat Habs 3-0.

  • Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 pucks, including many nasty ones in the early minutes, to earn himself a dandy shutout. Varly looked sharp moving laterally, going to splits, getting his pads in front of pucks, and generally looking wall-ish. If BBBB’s win-one-play-one policy holds true, Varly should be your starter on Saturday in Pittsburgh.
  • Did anyone enter tonight’s game expecting a performance like this out of Jay Beagle? Even if you set aside his picture-perfect goal, Jay blocked six, won 7 of 11 faceoffs, and seized upon loose pucks like a maniac. Hard hat? Hard hat.
  • Two weeks ago, Eric Fehr was flirting with healthy scratches. Since then he’s come back hard. F16 had six shots, many of which from up in Carey Price’s grill, and a plus-2 rating over 13:50 of ice time.
  • 60-minute game! That’s right. You didn’t see one crummy period all night. That alone is a reason to cheer.
  • Early on, P.K. Subban leveled an impressive hit on Jason Chimera to establish a physical presence for the Canadien heel. Subban earned boos from the Verizon Center crowd all night, but Big John Erskine didn’t forget him either. John caught P.K. unawares with a monster hit behind the Caps goal early in the third. Yeah, it was an interference penalty, but it was also a matter of principle for the Capitals’ resident lumberjack.
  • Babyface Dave Steckel scored, but the officials had lost sight of the puck and washed the goal out. Weak, refs. Real weak.
  • Welcome back, Jeff Schultz. Only 13 minutes on ice, but it’s a start.
  • Andrew Gordon has no stats of any kind to show for 8:22 of ice time, but he looked like a stud cycling the puck in the offensive zone and working the dump-and-chase routine like a veteran. We’ll have to wait for Neil’s input for some quantitative analysis, but I liked A-Gord’s play tonight.
  • Stick penalty. Alex Semin. Sunrise. Sunset.
  • Did I forget anything? Oh yeah. The embarrassingly entropic Capitals power play. 0 for 7. The Canadiens gave them no shortage of chances, and the Caps did move the puck around brilliantly, but they just couldn’t sink it. They gotta turn this around on Saturday. They just gotta.
Joe B's suit of the night

Joe B's suit of the night

Hey anyone else noticed that all the Caps’ best players tonight were current or former Hershey Bears? Fehr, Green, Beagle, Varly. Not only did these guys win the game, but they demonstrated for the rest of the team how to hustle to win games.

Alright, that’s it for 2010. Crazy year, right? The Capitals have three days off before the Winter Classic. I’ll be up in Pittsburgh to get soaked and freeze like everyone else, Ian will be covering the game from the heated comforts of home, and we’ll have a couple surprises for you, too. Crash the net, boys. You’re ready.

  • jenn

    where’s the official rmnb new year’s eve bash?! =)

  • Peter Hassett

    @jenn, I don’t know if any other RMNBers are going up to Pitt. I know I’ll be going wherever the pretty girls and foamy beers are.

  • Victoria

    But Peter I will be in Hershey! :)

  • Peter Hassett

    @Victoria, hahaha. Next time, then,

  • Gracie

    Fingers crossed its only enough rain to get us freezing and soaked and not enough to postpone the game. Haha, I hope to see plenty of caps fans so I’m not over powered by Pens fans

  • Tim

    There’s plenty of Caps fans going. I’m looking forward to Rocking the Red at Heinz Field!

    As for tonight – Varly and Beagle. Both were awesome. And Backs is finally getting his game back – beautiful no-look pass to Green, 10-12 on faceoffs, and +2 on the night.

  • http://crzyjewishotaku.deviantart.com Rachel Cohen

    I’ll be in Pitt New Year’s Day. Just look for the sign. ;D

    Great game, glad to see the boys play a full 60.

    Also: REFS. You missed so many calls on the Habs. Not amused. :| Though with the way the PP had been playing, idk if it’d make a difference.

    Can’t wait for the Classic, it’s gonna be a blast!

  • DarkStranger44

    Several of us Caps fans will be there i Pitt — including me.

  • Darb

    As a Caps fan currently living in the ‘Burgh, let me know if you need/want any suggestions for decent places to get food around town. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join you as I’m spending the holiday in Beantown. I’ll reply to comments here.

    Also, the winter classic store Dick’s opened at 1400 Smallman street in the Strip District is the only place in town where I’ve found Caps gear. The selection is unsurprisingly small and crammed in a corner, but if you’re looking for that last minute knit cap or hoodie, they’ll have it until the 31st.

  • Peter Hassett

    I hope I’ll see all you guys at the game!

  • Eric Streckfus

    Rain, snow, dogs, whatever. We have to be like the Postal Service and deliver the mail to Pittsburgh. Just grab your warmest gear, your best CAPS attitude and help cheer our surging boys past those damn Pens. Looking forward to seeing plenty of RED in the streets and bars, not to mention Heinz Field itself. LET’S GO CAPS! And Mathieu Perrault!

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  • http://make-lemons.com michelle

    Great way to end 2010!

  • Em

    @Tim, indeed, Backstrom had a strong game. Finally.

    WTF on our PP looking like poo poo. I mean, how long before teams figure out they should just take a penalty every two minutes and work their way to a 0-0 tie and win in a shootout? Cripes almighty. Can we just refuse the penalty like in football?

    Those going to the Classic–have a blast! I will enjoy it from the warm comforts of my friend’s living room, if I don’t oversleep.

  • Dawn

    I will be heading to the Winter Classic and I can’t wait! I want to get a knit Capitals cap so I might see if my group wants to do a hunt for Dick’s store.

  • Darb

    @Dawn:

    Dick’s WC store’s last day is tomorrow, they won’t be open on the 1st, so get it quick!

    @Everyone else:
    Looking for breakfast/brunch:
    Avoid Pamela’s. Sure, it’s the touristy “Pittsburgh” go to, but it’s often packed with yinzers and the food isn’t very good.

    Better brunch options include:
    Square Cafe in Regent’s Square (Typical breakfast food, veg and vegan friendly, excellent french toast)

    Coco Cafe in Lawrenceville (Typical breakfast foods, get there early, they tend to fill up)

    Paris 66 in Shadyside (French)

    E2 (E Squared) in Highland Park (Fusion, non-trad stuff, veg and vegan friendly)

    Not sure who is open or not on New Year’s Day, so check websites or call beforehand.

    Have fun!
    -Darb