Photo credit: Graig Abel
Remember how we were whining about losing that game in Ottawa? How it wasn’t fair? How we were skeptical that lady luck would ever swing the Washington Capitals’ way?
Not tonight. The Caps’ loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t an artifact of luck, but rather the sadly predictable result of a penalty parade.
Mike Ribeiro hit up Joel Ward on the weak side for an easy opening goal. JVR tied it up with a rebound goal during a super-sized power play for the Leafs. Alex Ovechkin recorded a PPG with a nasty wrister to restore Washington’s lead. Then the Capitals killed off a eleventy billion penalties. The Leafs tied it up in the third when Nikolai Kulemin ate snow to knock home a loose puck behind Neuvy. The Leafs stole the lead with a Matt Frattin net-crash halfway into the third.
Leafs beat Caps 3-2.
- Penalties penalties penalties. With 10 PIMS in the first period alone, the Caps were lucky to escape with just one goal against. We said the other day that the Caps need to limit penalties while they improve their special teams, but they must feel otherwise; this game was a penalty-killing rehearsal for the crew. The PK did swell, but the Caps missed a lot of time in the offensive zone.
- Big John Erskine, Peter Robbio’s favorite Cap, has been bunches of fun this year. In the first minute of the game, Ersk walloped Phil Kessel in a hit that should have set the tone for the night. Yeah, Big John was a bit out of position on Van Riemsdyk’s goal and he blew one big chance to keep the puck in the O-zone, but Erskine has been fun to watch this season.
- Speaking of Kessel, huge props to Michal Neuvirth for keeping Toronto’s star out of the goal column. Hello Neuvy was stellar while the Caps were on the PK, and any night where a guy stops 35+ pucks is a good night– regardless of what the bums in front of him do.
- Great to see Joel Ward making big plays in his hometown. He’s been so hot, we’re not even gonna mention how ludicrous his shooting percentage is.
- Jason Chimera‘s night was an NRA press conference held on a train that has crashed into the Hindenberg. Two bad penalties hurt, but jawing at the ref made it so much worse, and those extra two minutes were what gave JVR time for his goal.
- For the second consecutive game, the Capitals did not deign to offer any offense in the third period. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: SCOAR MOAR GOALS. The teams that win consistently are the ones who can win big. Plus, it’s infinitely more fun to watch and write about them.
- Both of Alex Ovechkin‘s goals have come on the power play, and both from the same spot– right above the circle. That’s a spot Ovechkin would never occupy if he were still playing point as he demanded last season. Good on Oates for putting this 1-3-1 power play together and assigning Ovi to the half wall.
- Marcus Johansson was all alone with Reimer with a chance to tie the game. Instead of shooting, he did a drop-pass. After a few games in the press box, I’m dumbfounded as to why he didn’t try to score. Sorry, scoar.
Like I said: after committing so many penalties, the Caps shouldn’t have had a chance. Epic penalty killing made it interesting (or is the word heartbreaking?), but the Caps didn’t deserve to win this one. That lead was just a mirage.
Elsewhere in the league, Thomas Vanek had his second 5-point game of the season. This is germane because if he had played against the Caps, we would be looking at a winless season so far.
I know that’s a huge downer, but take heart, y’all. The Caps are gonna turn it around, and you’ll be able to say you were there when they did.
See you tomorrow, when we all whoop for Mike Knuble.
@russianmachine they are so cute, one is $2000 suit, the other $200, guess who?
— Alan May (@MayHockeyCSN) February 1, 2013