SCOAR! Brooks Laich celebrates his game-winner. (Photo credit Rob Carr)
As we venture into the Dale Hunter era, each game reveals new layers of the Washington Capitals’ game. In Saturday night’s meeting with the Ottawa Senators, we got all of that. And as a special bonus, we got a W, the first for Coach Hunter’s NHL career.
Before the game was two minutes old, Nick Backstrom did everything right to score, a feat made easier by Alex Ovechkin drawing two Senators away. Early in the second, Erik Karlsson sent the puck through traffic and tied it up. In the third, Ovi sent a picture-perfect pass through the seam to Troy Brouwer, who converted the short-side. Milan Michalek tied it up late while Neuvirth was sprawled out. Then Brooks Laich slayed the Sens in overtime. Caps beat Sens 3-2 (OT).
- Congrats to Dale Hunter on his first win. We’ll get back to this at the end of the post.
- Here’s an unavoidable point: the Capitals are a lot less fun to watch these days. Le sigh. Gone are the days of face-off one-timers, of blazing shots and searing breakaways, of wine and roses.
- At least the guys are leveling hits like crazy. 24 by the Caps tonight, spread out pretty evenly among the team. Some of them were monsters too, including the highlight-reel Ovechkin-Greening hit.
- But hits are sugary sweets that only good boys get to have if they first eat their vegetables. In the world of this awful analogy, eating veggies means converting power plays, which the Caps failed to do on four opportunities. Boo.
- The Hendricks-Perreault-Halpern trio was bred like Orcs for grinding in the offensive zone. The Senators looked like they had been chugging NyQuil by the end of their shifts.
- Jeff Halpern won 7 of 8 faceoffs. Yeah, he’s good.
- That Milan Michalek goal puts him in a 3-way tie with Kessel and Stamkos for goal scoring (16).
- Brooks Laich, quietly celebrating his 500th NHL game, had a good one. 6 Shots, 1 OTGWG.
- Also marking his 500th game was The Great Eight, Alex Ovechkin. Ovi’s o-zone presence made Backstrom’s goal possible, and he recorded the primary assist on Brouwer’s goal. Ovi leveled a few monster hits as well. He’s still doing that move where he enters the zone, cuts to the middle, and then fails to use the defender as a screen. You know– the same one the NHL figured out in the winter of 2009. So that’s still a thing.
- Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson doesn’t even need a seat on the bench; he does everything on ice. He scored the Sens’ only goal, committed a penalty (which is no big deal against the Caps since they can’t score), and logged 26:27 ice time.
- Nick Backstrom is 7th in the NHL in assists with 18. First place is one of the weird Sedins with 21, which begs the question: how awesome would Backstrom be if the people he passed to could actually score?
Holy heck, the Washington Capitals won a hockey game! Congratulations to Dale Hunter on winning his first game as a Cap since March 20, 1999. To celebrate the win, here’s a song by Mastodon off their latest album, aptly titled The Hunter.
I’ll rearrange your face for you. . . / I wanna break some [bleeping] glass / I wanna squeeze you ’til you’re inside out / I want it all
Cool lyrics. Would’ve been a bit more appropriate if Erskine and Konopka got into it. Oh well.
Have a great Saturday night everyone!
Joe B suit of the night, super-sized.
Photo credit: Rob Carr