(Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals had the opportunity to prove national dominance against the best-in-the-west Dallas Stars. That didn’t happen.
Michael Ryder took a second chance, banked it off one or two Caps top-liners and past an unsuspecting Michal Neuvirth. On the power play, Nick Backstrom gave a blind feed to Alex Semin, who fired hard from 15 feet out. Neuvirth’s teammates abandoned him to another Michael Ryder goal. Then came John Carlson, who fired an ICBM over Lehtonen’s pads after the faceoff. Adam Burish deked Backstrom and Neuvy to give Dallas the edge early in the third. Hotshot Jamie Benn made it a two-goal lead on the power play. And Eric Nystrom netted off a nice rebound to make it a three-spot. Stars beat Caps 5-2.
- Jamie Benn (2 assists, 1 goal) is a marquee player. The best skater on either end of the rink, Benn seemed to be on every shift. He is as responsible for Michael Ryder‘s big night (2 goals) as Ryder is. And how young is the guy? He was born the same year that the ABC network debuted its TGIF lineup.
- How do you like your Sasha? Alex Semin had a stick penalty in the first period, but he followed it up with a highlight-reel goal (below). But then followed THAT up with another stick penalty (badly timed and in the offensive zone). So we’re gonna file Tuesday under #BadSasha and doff our caps to the team’s undisputed PIM leader. Accountability, anyone?
- Congratulations to Big John Erskine on his 400th NHL game. Ersk celebrated with a couple big shots on goal and a boarding hit on Trevor Daley. The party line is that he should expect a call from the NHL’s top cop, Brendan Shanahan, but I doubt it. The collision was to the head, but Daley began falling right before the collision.
- The Capitals ran this video before the game, sending up the opening credits to the old TV show Dallas. Not enough Patrick Duffy for my taste, but still very nice.
- Matt Hendricks and Jake Dowell fought, but who honestly cared at that point? No clear winner, and the Caps were already losers.
- The singular bright point of the game was the Capitals faceoff skill. Jeff Halpern won 7 of 10, Matt Hendricks won 6 of 7.
This version of the Washington Capitals is an unfamiliar one. Reckless with penalties and careless on defense, these guys are bad enough to lose to any team in the league. As Bruce Boudreau pointed out during the first period intermission, the zone coverage was abysmal. John Carlson, usually a defensive whiz, was on ice for a whopping four goals against. Roman Hamrlik, who is ostensibly a level-headed puck mover, neither moved pucks or even his legs. The offense was awful too, squandering every man advantage save the first one.
Yeah, this hockey team was unspeakably bad. They better not show up on Friday for that date with the Devils.
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Please indulge me for a moment. On Tuesday morning we lost Sergeant Stephen Hassett, 27-year veteran of the Maryland State Police. For five years, my uncle Steve fought neuroendocrine carcinoma with steely resolve. Even after I grew up he seemed like a giant to me. I always thought he had a Henry Rollins vibe about him: serious, thoughtful, and caring.
A husband and father, a son and brother, Steve will be missed by all who knew him.