Vokes and the boys celebrate the shutout. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals lost two straight games in California before coming back home to lick their wounds and face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, were not available for hockey. The team that showed up was some shell-shocked, injury-riddled assemblage of yinzers in PGH uniforms. Not that the Capitals were much better.
Jason Chimera stepped up for the national broadcast, scoring on a breakaway set up by Jeff Halpern’s lovely set pass and some poor decisions by Paul Martin and Evgeny Malkin. And then… nothing. That’s all she wrote. Caps beat Penguins 1-0.
- Caps-Pens is supposed to be a good hockey game. It’s supposed to be one of the best games of the season, a high-scoring affair with lots of personality and salty attitude. This game was just kind of grumpy, and it seemed like the skaters forgot the whole “shooting” part of the game for a while there. Most of the night was spent in the neutral zone, as each team volleyed the puck back to each other. Despite the lack of shots or scoring in general, this game still had its moments.
- Matt Hendricks, who chucked a puck off the post for the second time in five days and may very well never score a goal again, dropped the mitts with Craig Adams in the first period. Despite the fact that nothing really happened except helmet punches, we give the decision to Hendy for his Kurt Angle-esque takedown.
- And while we’re talking about Adams, let’s watch this video of Ovi mollywhopping him to the ice. Oh man, that third replay is the stuff right there.
- Despite Alex Ovechkin going pointless on the night, he certainly made his presence felt. He dished out three hits. Blocked two shots. He even went to one knee in the waning moments to try and block a chance in the slot. And of course, with Cal Ripken in attendance, he had to have at least attempt one shot on net via the baseball swing. Oh, Ovi.
- The Capitals really played good team defense blocking 21 shots to the Penguins’ six. Roman Hamrlik, the Caps’ shot block leader on the year, led both teams with four. The Penguins now have not scored more than three goals since December 27th. Yikes!
- Predictably, the line of Troy Brouwer (11 hits!), Brooks Laich, and Mike Knuble did not score. Really, Dale? Though to their credit, they never had a moment where they all stood in the crease looking around confused.
- Tomas Vokoun stopped 30 pucks to earn his shutout. The Penguins were up in his grill for most of the night, and Vokoun was tenacious and active in sending them away unsatisfied. Vokes has 69 goals against, you’re damn right that we giggled over that stat.
- In Tomas Kundratek‘s NHL Debut, the Czech defender played 11 respectable minutes and had one shot on net.
- With Jason Chimera scoring tonight’s only goal, it sure looks like we’re going to have to post this video before every game.
After the 1-0 victory, Mike Knuble spoke to Pierre McGuire (who we’re pretty sure was in this music video). Kanoobs said, “We’ve been treading water. We’ll win one, and then lose one… But I have a lot of faith in this group.”
I do too, Kanoobs. Sure, this team looks like a shell of itself on the road, but at home — when they bring the intensity — they are still a very hard team to beat. At this point, it’s all about consistency and sticking to the system.
The Capitals’ now turn their attention to Skeletor, that ugly midget Martin St. Louis, and division rival Tampa, who’s struggling almost as bad as the Penguins right now. The Lightning have a minus-28 goal differential, an aging dinosaur in net, and are 3 games under .500. Though, after last year, I’m not going to feel too sorry for them when we beat their ass on Friday. See you then!