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?
- 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.
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.
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.)