So much almost. (Photo credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Whew, what a relief that the All-Star Weekend is over! We’re all so sick of watching haphazard, sloppy, firewagon hockey that turns over pucks and gives up chances every few seconds, it’s such a relief to get back to the responsible, disciplined team we all missed so much.

Hahaha! Let’s all have a good laugh at that one for a minute, and then to the recap. I am pleased to inform you that the curse of my recaps was broken tonight. Actual goals were scored.

Matt Hendricks opened the scoring with the ol’ Brooks-Laich-diving-poke-check-pass, fan-on-the-initial-and-then-wildly-backhand-it move. Classic. Teddy Purcell scored two shifts later on a feed from Steve Downie, who mysteriously hadn’t had his face punched in yet at this point. All Martin St. Louis had to do was skate past Hamrlik lying face-down on the ice to make it 2-1. Nate Thompson banged one in on a good cycle from Tampa in front of the net. Mathieu Perreault was in the right place at the right time to take credit for a hilarious own goal off Thompson’s stick. Good pressure from Laich forced a puck loose for Troy Brouwer, who put it in the back of the net. The game went to overtime, and Steven Stamkos scored on a defensive breakdown from John Carlson. Caps lose, 4-3.

  • Tomas Vokoun’s head was extra shiny tonight. It was a sign. Like most of the team, he built and built as the night went on and peaked with an unreal save on Vinny Lecavalier in OT, reaching back on a sure thing to snag a puck out of the air even though he was feet away the moment before. Our goalie is a human Slinky. NBC broadcast team were too busy talking about Lecavalier to notice.
  • The whole game was a bit of a mess, on both sides. All of these guys have been laying around on beaches for the whole weekend and eating their wives’ cooking. No more vacations for anyone. The Bolts sent the puck down. We sent it back. Carlson stopped our hearts multiple times. None of this looked much like actual hockey until about the third period.
  • Alex Ovechkin was attending the game, and there were a few shots of him in the pressbox with Olaf Kolzig. Olie and Ovi. Now there’s a sitcom we could get behind.
  • Person who had a little too much vacationing: Roman Hamrlik. He gave Steve Downie ten miles of space on the first Tampa goal, and then fell down, facedown, on the ice, for St. Louis to dance past him for the second goal. I was all set and ready to institute #Hamrlikdown, but on the replay minutes later we discovered that first look at the play was a bit mendacious. Class act Vinny Lecavalier actually kicked his skate out from under him.
  • The refs were Bolts in disguise tonight, so this didn’t get called. Want to get even more angry about that second goal? It was offsides.
  • Things that are not attractive: The PP without 19, 8, and 52. The Caps got a 4-minute power play in the second when Lady Byng candidate Steve Downie clipped Perreault with his stick and made him bleed. Most of this four minutes looked like the team having a seizure. The medics were all ready to rush onto the ice, but it was just the Caps trying to score on a power play. Please come back, somebody.
  • For all the talk of bad trades and bad additions this summer–how about that Troy Brouwer, huh? He scored his 15th of the season tonight, and as the season’s gotten tougher, he’s just gotten better. What a hero.
  • I’m sure you’re all wondering what happened to all the Joel Rechlicz hype. I am too. He played 1:49, all in the first period, and mysteriously didn’t throw a single punch. This wasn’t what we expected after Coach Hunter’s assertion that he was brought in because “he’s a big guy and he’s a physical guy. He’s physical and we’re on the road so we need a physical guy.” Why sign him and not use his scary, famous fists? Then again Steve Downie was dodgy earlier in the day about whether he’d even step up to the plate if Recker asked him. Draw your own conclusions.

Person Sitting Behind the Bench Shirt of the Night

We’re famous!

This is a stretch of games specifically created to teach the Caps how to overcome adversity. It is a good thing, because this is something that they really, really needed to know. That game got messy, and there were huge mistakes, but the Caps cared tonight. With the construction of this team being what it is right now, they are on the edge of disaster at any given moment, and yet they haven’t completely fallen over. Never a dull moment.

They worked hard tonight. They got physical. On the road. On the road you need physical guys. Physical.

WARNING: After not seeing this video in 10 years, we forgot how many blatant crotch shots there are. Consider yourself warned.