Joe Sargent

Photo credit: Joe Sargent

Everyone writing about the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins talks about how the rivalry isn’t what it used to be. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to harp on the diminished luminosity of Alex Ovechkin’s star or the Penguins’ 9-game streak going into Tuesday. Not gonna do it. I’m not going to ruminate on the struggles in Washington while Pittsburgh sits atop the Eastern Conference. You won’t hear about that from me. That’s just not how I roll.

Instead, I’ll stick to the game– a high-tension affair in Western PA that saw neither team establish momentum for long. Both goalies played terrifically, and then one bad goof at the end of a long power play cost the Caps the game.

Penguins beat Caps 2-1.

  • Alex Ovechkin cracked the scoreboard about halfway into the game, cleaning up a tasty Troy Brouwer rebound with a one-timer. Before that, the game was a grandfather clock: tightly wound, but somehow also hypnotically boring. 
  • Brooks Laich and his baby blues made their long-awaited return to active service– and he did a lot more than I thought he would. It was great to hear tweeple of various gender identities and sexual preferences voice their satisfaction at the comeback.
  • Dmitry Orlov was used somewhat less. In his first big-league game this season, Orlov played just 12 minutes. He was one of the few Caps players struggling on the night (minus-9 Fenwick), but he’ll get his step back. I really wanna see him taking more shots though– like fellow blueliner Steve Oleksy, who never shrinks from the chance to swing at the puck (2 shots, 6 attempts).
  • This game was super tight. Neither team was able to sustain a shot-attempt lead, and both goalies played excellently.  Through 40 minutes, the Capitals eked out a tiny lead in possession thanks to a few spirited shifts by guys like Eric Fehr, Mike Ribeiro, and Alex Ovechkin.
  • The Penguins’ power play is punishingly productive. Pushing nine pucks at the net in a pair of PPs nearly put Pittsburgh in good position to pull two points, but a pluperfect Washington penalty kill negated one power play, and Paul Martin‘s nearly perdu point blast penetrated the net on the other.
  • Alex Ovechkin got the best of awful human Matt Cooke. Ovechkin gave Cooke a clean hit, but the irascible scumbag retaliated, hitting Ovi in the numbers and earning another two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The best part was Ovechkin’s attitude: not appealing to the refs for a penalty, just playing to the whistle.
  • The worst part was the garbage four-minute power play, which was startlingly unproductive and ended in time for Cooke to set up Matt Niskanen for the go-ahead goal.
  • The Caps had 4 shots on 5 power play opportunities. Granted, one of those shots was a goal, but still: that stat is the obvious perpetrator of this loss.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

(I try not to foreground it too much, but look at that Joe B pic over there. Best ever? Top 5 at least, right?)

Here’s the deal: the Caps were the better team at five-on-five. In the long term, that goes a long way towards a winning record, but without competence on special teams the Caps let this one get away from them. On the brightside, Captain Alex Ovechkin was terrific — drawing penalties, attempting 14 shots, and scoring his team’s only goal.

But squandering that four-minute man advantage was the death knell for this game (and season?). And now the Caps have a tough road stretch ahead of them– first a pair in the Southeast of the North, Winnipeg, then capping it off in New York.

I’m not calling them must-wins, because I’m not sure it matters at this point. And if nothing our team does matters, then the only thing that matters is what our team does. (Boom. Angel reference.)

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I wish April 3rd would get here already. It’s a sellers market, lets hope we can get some return on McRib

  • http://twitter.com/deniscarmo Denis Carmo

    Johansson nees to learn how to shoot, Oates kept the top PP line for almost the full 4 minutes of that PP, that was a wrong move. The Caps played fairly well against one of the best teams in the NHL right now, that bullshit call on Chimera brought the team down.

  • Akay15

    Carlson falling on his butt at the beginning of the power play and the annoying Penguins fans cheering about it set the tone of those 4 minutes for me. I’m now twenty years older.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    haha yeaaaaah

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Word on the street is ANA wants a 2C. They might have a lottery ticket in the 2014 draft the Caps could take off their hands…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005713165 Pat Magee

    Faceoffs. We lost all of them in the last 5 minutes :(

  • Yv

    Those absolutely maddening 4 PP min and ensuing Pens goal just showed why Caps will be not in playoffs. Before official Caps funeral and garage sale, the only thing that will keep Caps relevant is by winning next 3 games including 2 clean wins against Jets. And, unfortunately Holtby was just average and didn’t save Caps. Those two Pens goals were savable, if he just stayed up and didn’t go down too early and relied too much on his glove.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    April 3rd is circled on my calendar! McPhee usually makes a great excuse as to why he either stood pat or got players out of their prime/nobody wants. Last year’s “with Backstrom, we can beat anyone in the conference” was golden. Can’t wait for this year’s.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Mojo passing up shot opportunities from the slot– just bewildering.

  • Owen

    So wtf was up with the Penguins getting a Horn Guy? Was he playing a kazoo? it sounded like a cat getting neutered.

  • sowellman03

    We wait 3-4 years for a 2C then people want to trade Ribiero? I don’t understand.

  • sowellman03

    Okay. Ribiero’s contract expires this spring. I get it.

    Still, the Caps need to actually address 2C. #emptyearlymorningthought

  • vahockeymom

    That, to me, was the season. Right there. Carlson on his butt.

  • vahockeymom

    +10

  • vahockeymom

    Do you think he’s afraid he’ll miss?

  • skimmer

    Everyone is talking about the draft this, draft that. Look where that has gotten us. Time to pick up proven FAs, make the big trades. And why would we now trade McRib? He’s got better stats this season than Backstrom; on this team we now have two 1Cs. We’ve got the center everyone always complained about not having and now everyone is calling for a trade? Even though he is getting up there in age, he’s the type of veteran playmaker you mini re-build around.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I look at the ducks and I salivate over Etem, smith-pelly or palmeri. Probably a little bit steep on an asking price, but I can dream.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Ribs is ancient, and is only getting more expensive as the days go by. Ship him off to a contender and let him help them, he’s not doing any good wasting one of his best offensive seasons with us.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    https://twitter.com/thehornguy Sam’s tweets last night on this topic were amazing

  • lrhflute

    OMG….and Angel reference….I think I just fell in love! ;) (Also, great recap, as usual)!! :)

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    It’s not because they wanna get rid of him. It’s because his value to a playoff team is much, much higher than his value to the Caps. If the Caps do not trade him, they’ll either have to sign him (on what is likely to be an unfavorable contract to the team) or release him (and get absolutely nothing in return). Ribeiro is an asset, and the team should try to make sure they see some value in return for it.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    and a classic squander it was mom!

  • SC3

    Hows the wood Washington!

    -Pittsburgh

  • sean

    How about we stay consistant and resign Mojo to a 10 year deal at 5 or 6m per and trade Ribs for a Big Mac.

  • KareeLyn

    Ha! Brilliant…

  • sowellman03

    “Yeah, how dare Ribeiro score and assist on goals for the Caps. What a jerk for producing and ‘wasting’ the time of his teammates, management and fans.”

    Odd perspective and analysis.

    Players who don’t perform are costly. Ribeiro is effective on the ice so he and his contract are by no means “more expensive as the days go by.

  • sowellman03

    Yes thank you for clarifying. I agree he is an asset, and I recognize the trade-offs. But based on the pending pool of unrestricted free agents, he appears to be the best available for the Caps.

    If I were GMGM, I’d attempt to sign him to a two or three year deal before the deadline.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Re-signing him will be costly.

  • Rhino40


    The Penguins’ power play is punishingly productive. Pushing nine pucks at the net in a pair of PPs nearly put Pittsburgh in good position to pull two points, but a pluperfect Washington penalty kill negated one power play, and Paul Martin‘s nearly perdu point blast penetrated the net on the other.

    Peter, your positive productivity in the pleasant pursuit of alliteration is powerfully protected from the plethora of punishment promoted by any person’s poison pen.

    Hence, if the day ever comes when Miroslav Šatan becomes the GM in New Jersey, you will be the one best qualified to get the byline for this article:
    Satan, Devils ink 6th overall pick to 6-yr, $6M pact</b