(Photo credit: Nick Laham)
After a two-game skid, the Washington Capitals started their home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils by playing some crummy hockey. Inexplicably, they won anyway.
12-year-old Adam Larsson scored the first goal of the game, which was also his first-ever NHL goal. Captain Alex Ovechkin found the perfect spot up front to rouse the Caps’ offense and make it 1-1. Jason Chimera exploited the Devils’ power play line change to score the Caps’ first shorthanded goal of the season. Marcus Johansson casually backhanded to give the Caps a two-goal lead. Caps beat Devils 3-1.
- Mike Green is back! Or he was, until Ryan Carter hit him knee-on-knee in the first period. He took one shift on the power play, but none after that. Total ice time for the guy who should be the Capitals’ ice-time leader? 7:44.
- Alex Semin is sporting a team-best 20 PIMs. None of those are from fights or misconducts. He’s not a violent offender; he’s more like a recidivist cat burglar. #VeryBadSasha’s shifts evaporated in the second period per the team’s new accountability policy. He took his last shift in the second period and rode pine for the duration. Perhaps his whole “I think all this [accounability] stuff may actually be counterproductive” rubbed Bruce the wrong way?
- You need to see this awesome Semin picture.
- Who would have thought New Jersey’s Adam Larsson would be a threat? Anyone who read Puck Buddys’ pregamer, that’s who. In addition to scoring his first NHL goal, Adam had the distinct honor of getting leveled by the Russian Machine himself.
- Mike Knuble was the team’s most vocal critic earlier this week, but tonight he was their weakest link. Kanoobs committed three penalties– one was a soft call for boarding, the other was an unwhistled slash. Call it a temporary lapse, cause he knows better.
- Our best player was our best player, Alex Ovechkin. Scoring the game’s first goal, Alex was also the most physical player in the rink. Steller leadership from the once and future king.
- The Capitals have had a bear of a time in the third period of late. Entering this last frame with a tie score, the Caps had to remember their A-B-C’s: Always. Be. Closing. No one knew that better than Jason Chimera, who parried the Devils’ second consecutive power play with a shorty. Without that kick in the pants, this could have been a loss.
- Congratulations to reader Tari C. who won our Pick ‘Em contest tonight. Ian assures me that your prize is in the mail.
This team still looks tense and irritable. Jason Chimera’s roughing (i.e. punch in face) is evidence of that. How they pulled off this win is anyone’s guess. And what did they have to sacrifice to get those two points? Alex Semin is in the doghouse, Mike Green is hurt again, and Mike Knuble’s deeds didn’t match his words. Regardless, the team is once again #1 in the Southeast (maybe you didn’t notice: Matt Bradley and his Panthers took a 1-point lead on Friday morning).
With Mike Green’s injury, Alex Semin’s phlegmatism, and surely some other mysteries, the Capitals’ shifts went crazy. Check out this ice time chart (View the whole thing):
Without getting hurt, Semin didn’t even have a minute more playing time than the injured Green. Rookie Cody Eakin got short shrift himself, and Dennis Wideman took most of the brunt. Fascinating, and indicative of a drastic change in coach-player relations. Is anyone else firmly on #TeamBruce, or is it just us?
We’re gonna do this whole thing again tomorrow. It seems like the entire RMNB crew will be attending, so our recap will be kind of light. See you guys there!