Pot roast. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals had only one date with the Anaheim Ducks on the calendar this year, so they played it like two totally different teams. The Caps of the first half hour were disorganized and besieged. The Caps of the second half hour were focused and buzzing. A hole was dug by the former and filled in by the latter.
Saku Koivu siezed on bad communication between Wideman and Hamrlik to score the game’s first goal. Teemu Selanne took a pass from Koivu for a lay up goal to make it 2-0. Selanne notched another one in the second period, thanks for some more bad defense and a weak-side pass. Joel Ward got the Caps on board with a close wrister that went five-hole. Dennis Wideman capitalized (puns!) on a scrambling Hiller, slapping home a goal making it 3-2. Corey Perry took a couple swats at a loose puck in the paint to make it 4-2. Troy Brouwer’s shot gave Hiller trouble and kept the game interesting. With six attackers and less than a minute remaining, Nick Backstrom made the net quiver. Tie game. 4-on-4 overtime, where Backstrom struck again by slapping a bouncing puck into a gaping net. Game over! Caps beat Ducks 5-4 (OT).
- Nicky GD Backstrom. Maybe it was facing the European pros on the Ducks, maybe it’s just Movember. But something certainly got stirred inside the team’s dominant Swede. Two goals– the tying and winning tallies, his third and fourth of the season. Backstrom is your team’s points leader with 14.
- Welcome to the National Hockey League, Cody Eakin. You are 20 years old, already a world famous snowboarder and skateboarder, a prop comic, and a Gryffindor stalwart. Now you are a Capital of Washington. 13:19 ice time, 3 shots, and a dandy chance at the game-tying goal. He’ll get it next time.
- Welcome back to the line-up, John Erskine. Your shoulder healed, your face shorn, your tree-trunk legs pumping furiously to move your mass. We missed you, ya big lug.
- The Caps are allowing an alarming number of shots against this season, a bunch of which can be laid at the feet of the struggling D-Corps. The new pairing of Dennis Wideman and Roman Hamrlik were on ice for the first two Ducks goals, looking bewildered and out of sync. A missed reverse-pass led to one goal; inability to read the offense’s passes led to the second. The duo was broken up for the second period. And there was much rejoicing.
- Roman Hamrlik was on ice for every Ducks goal. Every. One.
- What is the deal with Teemu Selanne? We don’t see the 41-year-old flash a lot over here in the East, but dayumn. Ain’t nobody covering that guy. Whether that’s our team’s fault or a testament to his speed is matter of debate. Either way, on a team with the depth problems that Anaheim has, Selanne is Finnish gold.
- How bad is Anaheim’s depth? Nick Bonino’s and Brandon McMillan’s lines gave up too many shots against and were not trusted with many shifts in the game’s back half– recording 8 and 5 fewer minutes than the Ducks’ top line.
- RMNB grad Neil Greenberg wrote a solid piece for WaPo today addressing the output problems with the meat’n'taters line of Ward-Laich-Chimera and celebrating its dissolution. Surely, the trio read the piece together and resolved to prove Neil wrong. The Caps’ two goals in the middle frame were thanks to their effort. Them and…
- Dennis Wideman, whose 10 points in 10 games is tied with Ovechkin for second best on the team. Backstrom has 12, obvs.
- #41 Andrew Gordon, now an Anaheim Duck, had 14:11 of ice time, 2:11 of it shorthanded. No offense to speak of. He’ll need to distinguish himself in the next 10 games lest he fall back on his blogging career.
- The Capitals were without a penalty (if you ignore Matt Hendricks’ fight, which we do) until Tomas Vokoun tripped Corey Perry. Perry scored on the ensuing power play. The Capitals PK still sucks.
The last offensive-zone possession of the Capitals’ last power play ended with Alex Ovechkin trying to move the puck between a defender’s legs. Once upon a time, this move worked. It does not any more. Now it is an infuriatingly selfish play that deprives the team of any chance at scoring. The puck-handling whiz version of Alex Ovechkin needs to retire. It’s time for Alex Ovechkin v2.0– a positionally savvy, cherry-picking deviant– to reign.
Fitting then, that Bruce Boudreau didn’t give Ovechkin a tap on the shoulder for that extra-man shift at the end of regulation. This is the Age of Accountability after all, and not even the Great Eight is beyond reproach.
But a win is a win. And for all the pathos of that first period, we look at the bright spots: Dennis Wideman is soaring and Nick Backstrom knows when to strike. The Capitals played a disciplined game, except for that one lapse by their goalie. It’s progress.
We’ll talk about the defensive goofs and the reconfigured line-ups, but for now– the Caps are still perfect at Verizon Center.
See you on Friday, when the Capitals will drive you crazy for a little while before turning into a totally different team.