This game actually started out all right, but if you’ve seen the Caps play the Sharks lately, you knew that it could only get bad somehow. What is it with those guys, seriously, every time. Did the Caps all watch “Jaws” too many times as children, or what?
Joe Pavelski opened the scoring with a weirdo bounce on a harmless shot from Dan Boyle that black magicked itself over Braden Holtby’s shoulder. He put a second goal on the board when the Caps let the entire Sharks roster camp out in front of the net, because that’s a really good way to get a goal scored against you. Then the puck rolled down Holtby’s back to the goal line for Patrick Marleau to tap it in. Dmitry Orlov scored with one of those Dmitry Orlov blasts from the point with half a second left to go in the second. Brent Burns pinballed a Joe Thornton shot behind Holtby. Marleau scored the third Sharks PPG of the night to make it 5-1. Roman Hamrlik backhanded one past Greiss, which we have to admit we didn’t really see coming. Jeff Schultz upped the weirdness by scoring from the blueline to cut the deficit to two. Sharks beat Caps, 5-3.
- The hour before the game was probably one of the most insane hours of your life. Neuvirth was starting! Then Braden Holtby sprang from behind a bush! Then Mike Knuble was healthy scratched! But Joel Rechlicz was also mysteriously there and dressed! But Aucoin was scratched too! And Brooks Laich was on the fourth line! Welcome to crazytown.
- When the dust settled, though, Braden Holtby was in net for the Caps, and he didn’t get much of a chance to ease into it. The Caps had a penalty called within the first five minutes of the game, and had a longggg delayed penalty stretch to start it even before San Jose’s PP even began. The Sharks wasted no time getting some rubber on net, but Holtby made several stellar saves in a row just to remind us of exactly what he can do. It was like a drum solo. His luck took a steep drive from there on out, but blaming Holtby for this game would be a mistake. He got very little net support, as per usual.
- Joel Rechlicz was a bit more visible tonight, if only for the ten-minute game misconduct he took for going after a player on the Shark bench. Also in the Rechlicz highlight reel: getting stapled to the glass by Douglas Murray on his first shift. We just want to see this guy drop the gloves already, someone please accept his invitation to dance, his self-esteem is in jeopardy.
- Every Caps goal scored tonight was scored by a defenseman — in fact, the three goal scorers had only two goals total among them coming into tonight. Predictably, we were most excited by the Dmitry Orlov goal, but he’d been taking drives all night, he was due for that one.
- What have we done to anger hockey pucks? The Caps have never intentionally tried to insult them, and yet they really seem to have it out for us. There was another freak bounce in this game on that Dan Boyle shot from way, way out, and that’s coming after the 80-footer on Neuvirth against Florida and the awful Byfuglien bounce against the Jets. Those little black rubber things are starting to look downright malicious.
- There were a lot of shots on goal recorded tonight, and even double-digit scoring chances, the Caps shot when they should and even when they shouldn’t. Despite this, there was still a serious lack of traffic in front of the net, which you may have heard mentioned, oh, once or twice if you were watching the NBC broadcast. If only we had a player on the roster who was good at that.
- Play that pretty much summed up the night: Wideman and Johansson colliding on a PP entry.
- The Caps cleared the 40 SOG threshold tonight for the first time since December. Ovechkin had six of those shots.
I am officially refusing to let all of this get me down. I am not new to this hockey thing, and while I’ve never seen this exact situation before, I’ve seen others, and I’ve seen worse. I’m clearing the slate. Right now all I want is to see the players starting to really function within the system, develop good habits and erase old ones. I want to see them fight and work hard. If you change your expectations to that, you might get let down every once in awhile but it’s not going to be that crushing feeling you get from expecting to see the team that dominated and won everything.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t hope for amazing things to happen. Please do that. Hope for it. I’m just saying you shouldn’t expect to see something that’s gone, maybe permanently. Try to accept the things that are now in its place and perhaps here to stay, and not all bad, just different. Maybe when you aren’t looking for the amazing things, they will happen.