(Photo credit: John Russell)
The Washington Capitals began their circuit of North America with a stop in Nashville with their Predators. With Mike Green still ailing and a shooting drought in their immediate past, the Caps had something to prove.
After more than 55 minutes of play, Troy Brouwer finally beat Pekka Rinne using a defender for a screen. Like 0.874325 seconds later, Shea Weber fed Martin Erat east-west to tie it back up. With 24 seconds left, Colin Wilson beat a stickless John Erskine and a sucked-out Vokoun to make it 2-1. Backstrom lost a faceoff to give Weber an empty netter 5 seconds later. Preds beat Caps 3-1.
- Goalie duels are like chess matches: boring to some, exhilarating to others. The one demographic that universally loves these games are the goalies themselves, who salivate at the thought of a shut out. After 55 perfect minutes, in a window of 30 seconds, Rinne and Vokoun both had their hopes dashed.
- Alex Semin committed his 12th minor of the year in the second period. He’s got Zenon Konopka (66 PIMs) in his sights. On the good side of the ledger, Sasha was a prolific sticksmith, shooting 4 on net with another 4 blocked. He even looked good on defense, covering for a lagging John Erskine in one situation and generally keeping Nashville from firing. But is that enough to quell the swelling mob? I’m not sure, but we’re stocking up on pitchforks just in case.
- Pekka Rinne was making Jedi saves all night. Two beauts– one from Laich and another from Johansson– were rejected purely using sense of smell and echolocation. Rinne finished with 39 saves overall.
- The Capitals weren’t ready to play in the first period, issuing precious few shots to the aforementioned Rinne and allowing extended occupations in their own zone from the teeming Preds crew. For a while it looked like the Caps were gonna give a repeat performance of last week, but then Nashville’s superstar D-men Shea Weber and Ryan Suter took overlapping penalties. After that, the Caps finally asserted their forward presence– ultimately coming out on top in shots 40 to 31 (if not possession overall).
- According to Joe Beninati, Alex Ovechkin successfully lobbied Boudreau to get on point for the power play. All those soured zone entries and flubbed passing sequences don’t seem to be getting through to Ovi’s head. It appears that Alex still believes he will redeem himself by skating 80 feet, dangling and curling and dragging through three players, and scoring on an epic slapshot. Besides being insane, that also seems contrary to Boudreau’s basics-first, possession-based gameplan.
- Sorry to belabor the point, but Alex Ovechkin really does have a renaissance waiting for him. He’s a peerless shooter with the smarts to find the right spots. Plus, he’s flanked by capable puck carriers. To SCOAR MOAR GOALS, all he has to do is let the other guys set him up.
- Brooks Laich fired 7 shots on goal all by his pretty little self. The whole team should have been playing like that.
- Ian astutely observes that Barry Trotz keeps looking eviler in his advancing years. Doesn’t matter– guy gets a hood pass for life after coaching the Skipjacks.
- Is Cody Eakin a defensive liability? Even though he doesn’t take faceoffs, he was on ice for no defensive zone faceoffs. That’s all fine and dandy, but which goal-producing Caps sat out so that Eakin could get his cozy zone starts?
The Caps led this game for 28 seconds, but that’s not the story. The story is the slow start, the underperforming superstars, and the Tim McGraw song Nashville plays after goals. The Caps had two points in the palm of their hand, but they let it go. Now those two points are with another team, and the Caps are sad. Like a country song. Oh man, we gotta get the hell out of Nashville before George Strait starts narrating this.
From here the Caps are off to the Dirty ‘Peg, where Eric Fehr is expected to play [UPDATE: but he ain’t]. See you Thursday.
Steckelbomb by Ian Oland.