Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals game with the Philadelphia Flyers should’ve been the clash of the titans: Alex Ovechkin and Jaromir Jagr. Only one of ‘em showed up.

Claude Giroux deked wide to score on a breakaway made possible by Alex Semin’s giveaway. Mathieu Perreault required the rest of the fourth line to screen in his tying marker. Late in the first, someone told Alex Ovechkin that he was tied in goals with ex-Cap Dave Steckel, so Ovi promptly scored on a rebound.

Nothing happened in the second period, but get ready for this. Roman Hamrlik ripped one from way out that deflected in, then Alex Ovechkin found an open spot on open ice and chipped it in, then Joel Ward got a flukey deflection to make it 5-1. All that happened in 150 seconds. Late goal by someone and who cares. Caps beat Flyers 5-2.

  • Advice to Ilya Bryzgalov: don’t tweet about who hasn’t scored on you. U mutant.
  • Both of Alex Ovechkin‘s goals are worth analyzing. Ovechkin wasn’t the primary puck-carrier on either play. He positioned himself up front and ready for the puck. Getting past our typical “crash the net” trip, I think we’re seeing the future of Ovechkin goal scoring. He’s a terrifying threat in traffic, opening up opportunities for others and stealing a few for himself. When he was carrying the puck from neutral, he was just the guy trying to recreate The Goal and looking pathetic. This version of Ovechkin is scary good.
  • For seeming so adamant about justice, the refs sure kicked a few calls big time. There’s the missed whistle on Hartnell’s late hit on lil Matty Perreault, the dubious whistle for Ovechkin’s interference hit on Max Talbot (I’m marginally okay with that one– Ovi didn’t play the puck), and only a double minor for when Briere drew blood when high-sticking Laich. What did 5-on-5 hockey ever do to the mothers of the officiating staff to create such animus?
photo by @wyshynski
  • Brooks Laich‘s is a rugged kind of handsomeness. He’s taken hits to the face before, and he’ll surely take them again. The two sticks he absorbed with his face are nothing new, and this is not Rick “the Model” Martel we’re talking about here. So we’re done infantilizing ourselves and you with “Oh no, Brooksy’s face” jokes. (But it is a nice face.)
  • Surviving the second period was crucial to the Capitals’ victory. Philadelphia brought the onslaught, and the Caps defense looked just barely on the good side of inept. No goals came and we owe that to Tomas Vokoun, whose reliability in net is astonishing and new. 40 saves for the Caps #1 goalie.
  • Those first five minutes of the third period. Man. We would’ve sacrificed a dozen goats for that kind of puck luck last December. Roman Hamrlik and Joel Ward both owe their goals to deflections. Ovechkin owes his to hard freaking work in the thick of Flyer defense.
  • Jaromir Jagr: 5 shots, even rating. Boring. Total letdown considering we made a video for him and everything.

Joe B suit of the night

In another world the Capitals might not have secured this win. Philadelphia looked good for 40 minutes, but they ran into a team with a great goalie and a hardworking superstar. And some good luck of course, which goes a long way. Regardless, Philly wasn’t bad until they totally gave up in the final 15 minutes, so we should honor the defeated as much as we mock the fans who raided our pregame comments thread earlier. Haha, you guys.

6-0-0. Unprecedented.

There are only two undefeated teams in the NHL: Detroit* and Washington. They meet on Saturday.

* Detroit will play Columbus on Friday. (Spoiler alert: Detroit will win.)

  • Nathaniel Dominy

    uh…am I missing something or did the leafs actually lose 6-2?

  • Peter

    No, just a goof on my part looking at the NHL.com scoreboard. Saw last night’s final score, not tonight’s.

  • http://twitter.com/kat326 Rachel Cohen

    Ovi hadn’t scored on Bryz? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED (and completed!!!)

  • Cesky

    Brilliant recap as usual, Peter.

  • Pingback: With Style In Need Of Freshness, Alex Ovechkin Finds It In Front « Kings Of Leonsis

  • Pbrennan Sfda

    Love the whole article, but really loved the spoiler alert at at the ed. Great night.

  • Max Duchaine

    Had to do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidCRothman David C. Rothman

    Those deflection goals really weren’t all that “lucky”. Look back on the replays, as Kevin Weekes said on NHL on the Fly, we dominated the Flyers down low all night long. Everybody did their best Mike Knuble impression, and thus we consistently had bodies camped out in front of the net. That is precisely what you have to do to top-tier goalies, and something they didn’t do last year (then again we didn’t have Broewer and Ward in there). 

    I’m also glad the 4th line was rewarded for their hard work with a goal by MP85, whose perfect positioning allowed him to pounce on that Hartnell coughup.

  • Peter

    I agree that fourth line was terrific. It’s a crime I didn’t give them a bullet here. 

  • Mary

    Can someone explain to me why it stayed 4 on 4 after the Flyer’s first goal (Simmons to Giroux).  Why didn’t that end Ovi’s time in the box?

  • Stardragon66

    go to your room, Max.Tsk!

  • yuk

    it was not PP goal

  • Mary

    How was it not a PP goal?  It was during the 2:00 Ovi was in the box for interference.

  • Kate

    I still don’t get it.  Ovi was in the box.  They scored.  He should come out of the box. 

  • yuk

    Player is allowed to get on ice only if the PP goal was scored. Even strength, 4 on 4 including, is not PP goal. Ovi was sent into the box during Caps 4-min 5-on-4 PP. NHL currently thinking about new rule, to keep playing PP even when the goal scored.

  • http://twitter.com/BigNed Ned Keitt-Pride

    Thanks for another great recap, especially one  that homes in on the good stuff and leaves the available asterisks (giving up 42 shots on goal, Semin’s miscue on the first goal, etc.) alone for a game.  The Caps are 6-0 and yet most of what I’ve seen from the fan base (granted my view is skewed by living away from DC and only seeing blogs and other online content) is a lot of hand-wringing.  “Will this level of play get them through the playoffs?”, “Where is Ovie”, “Are we going to have a goalie controversy?”, “Why aren’t we killing bad teams?”, etc.  At some point, shouldn’t we start enjoying wins, regardless of how they look?  I actually think that how we respond as a fan base this early success matters and could affect how the Caps do down the road.  Let me explain:

    I think that all pro sports franchises (at least at the major league levels) are like those 3-D posters that used to be displayed at the mall all the time – if you let your eyes unfocus until you’re taking in the whole picture what you will see is the face of the owner(s).  This is because players model their behavior on ownership more than coaches or GM’s (even when you have a Belichik holding the clipboard it is the owner behavior of 100% backing the coach that is necessary to create a culture where players will support a strong disciplinarian).

    With that in mind, I wonder if there has ever been an owner quite like Ted Leonsis, and therefore if there has ever been a team like the Caps.  Uncle Ted is more accessible to fans than any owner I’ve ever seen, including Mark Cuban.  He gets into fights in the stands for crying out loud – who does that?  He listens to fans, absorbs their input and really, really tries to make them happy.  He tries to stay low intensity and continually tweets and blogs about the importance of being happy.  He  writes in all lowercase and doesn’t sweat grammatical details a whole lot.

    Does any of that sound familiar?  How many times have Caps blogs written about intensity problems?  About doing the little things that win games?  About hard work, grinding, and discipline (and other things that don’t provide an immediate feeling of happiness)?  Well in addition to those characteristics, the Caps players also listen to and interact with their fans at a level I don’t think any other pro sports team comes close to approaching.  How many other teams allow the public to just hang out watching practice on a regular basis?  And just like Uncle Ted, I think they try to make their fans happy.

    So when they lost to Montreal and everyone spent the whole offseason talking about toughness and being disappointed and presuming another spot in the playoffs, the Caps made Stay Angry shirts and focused all their attention on the postseason – to the point where Ovie even tried to set a conditioning schedule that would allow him to peak late in the season by starting to work harder as the season progressed.  The team moved to a more defensive system.  But listening to them in the media, Caps players spent the whole season virtually ignoring the results of their regular season efforts because their fans, their coaches and their owners were all impatiently waiting for the “real” season to begin.  “This is great but it doesn’t really matter.  What we want to do is win in the playoffs.”  That kind of attitude sounds good, but when you ignore the good it gives you an opportunity to ignore the bad as well.  And ignoring the bad throughout a season instead of working relentlessly to get better is why the Caps have underperformed in the playoffs.

    I would like to offer this suggestion: stop ignoring the regular season.  The Caps were nearly unbeatable the year BB took over mainly, I think, because they had to win almost every game just to get into the playoffs.  They won their first round and then lost to a good team in the second round in an epic series.  Since then, getting to the playoffs has become an expectation – but not in a “we won’t settle for less” way, rather in a “we’re entitled to a playoff berth because people say we’re really good” way.  Being as talented as they are, the Caps haven’t really had to work all that hard to get to the playoffs the past couple of years – and it showed as they were ousted both times by teams that spent a year working their ass off just to get into the postseason.

    So since the team is listening, and the owner is listening, allow me to encourage them and my fellow fans to consider this as a mantra for the franchise: Every Game Counts.  Grammar counts.  Paying attention to details, taking the time to do things exactly right makes a difference.  It’s the reason that hard workers can beat their more talented opponents over time.  That goes for the positive as well though.  We’re 6-0 for the first time ever and no one seems to be that happy about it.  WTF?  As far as I’m concerned, the Caps have now swept one playoff series this season and are up 2-0 in the next.  They have at least 11 best-of-seven series left to go before they get to the playoffs, hopefully as many as 14 or 15 (I’m guessing 82-0 isn’t going to happen).  Overtime, shootouts, I don’t care.  Wins mean we don’t go home early.  Let’s work for them all and enjoy them all.

  • Rhino40

    O Max U R A Sick Man (and I don’t mean Ovie -sick, either)–but funny too!  ROTGDFLMMFAO