Check out the Hendyface! (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
I was expecting some kind of letdown after the Washington Capitals ensured themselves a playoff spot on Tuesday, but dude. Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it didn’t carry the same gravitas now that the Caps are locked in third place. Erik Karlsson’s unlikely return to service was heartening for pure hockey fans, but it’s way too late in the season for us to muster up that kind of neighborliness. Besides, it’s totally possible this is the team the Caps will have to face in the playoffs, so we should probably get the enmity brewing now.
Karlsson got one, then Ovi got one. Then overtime, where ex-Cap Sergei Gonchar won it all because Mike Ribeiro is a liability.
Sens beat Caps 2-1. Ottawa makes the playoffs.
- Matt Cooke injured (and how many sentences have started that way?) Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson in February with a skate slice to his achilles tendon. Most thought he’d be out for the year, but Karlsson made his big comeback in DC on Thursday. The game’s first goal was his, although tipped in by he of the unnecessary consonants, Jakob Silfverberg. Karlsson whipped the puck in from near the blue line, which Silfverberg tipped past Michal Neuvirth. Michal and I both felt that Silfverberg interfered with Neuvy in the same manner that the Caps have been penalized so many times the past, but the refs disagreed.
- If the Caps and the Sens play in the quarterfinals, there’s maybe half a day’s worth of stories about both countries’ capital cities playing. After that it’ll be all tedium and players whose name end in “son.”
- Maybe that’s not entirely true. Ottawa has plenty of peppy players who don’t hesitate to mix it up after a whistle– plus they all race to defend Captain Daniel Alfredsson. That’s exactly what happened when John Erskine mixed things up with 40-year-old Alfie in the third period. The two went off for matching minors (the old guy a bit more reluctantly than big John).
- Ian Oland spreads wisdom on tonight’s opponent:
(9:12:35 PM) Ian Oland: ottawa are cheaters
(9:12:39 PM) Ian Oland: they should go on the show cheaters
- On the Caps’ first shot of the third period, Alex Ovechkin got behind the Ottawa defense and backhanded in his 32nd goal of the season. An even-strength, finesse goal in which he carried the puck and beat the defense– just to remind us all that he’s no one-trick pony. What even is a one-trick pony? Who even teaches ponies tricks, and why the hell can’t they all learn more than one? And did anyone see that Paul Simon movie? Sucked. Unlike Ovechkin, who is awesome. #analysis
- Not sure how it happened, but the Capitals surrendered the possession game somewhere near the end of the second period and ended up getting smoked. This may sound trite, but a team that tilts the ice usually goes further than a meeker team. Shoot moar pucks and don’t loaf in the third period.
- Mike Ribeiro failed to sabotage the game with a late-game, offensive-zone penalty for Ribeiroing. Then Steve Oleksy somehow got away with cold-cocking Jakob Silfverberg in the face during play, and yes, I am very happy I got to use the word “cold-cocking” this season. Oleksy didn’t get called for that punch– inconceivably. Then Ribeiro then got caught another goddamn penalty with one-minute left, because I guess if he can’t score then might as well play galactically stupid hockey. Sergei Gonchar scored the OTPPGWG.
Here’s a scary thought: that might have been Michal Neuvirth‘s last game as a Washington Capital. Neuvy, with all of 13 games played, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. I doubt the Caps will let him go, but Oates’ preference for Holtby at least makes it a question. Neuvy was a total stud with 39 saves tonight. He’s had an off year, but his rough starts came when the Caps defense was atrocious. I’d really like to see him re-up soon.
And then there’s Mike Ribeiro, for whom I have the opposite feeling. I don’t understand what came over him, but when people talk about selfish penalties, they’re talking about stuff like this. When a player chooses to mix things up with the opponent before considering how it may hurt his team, that’s selfishness. Most of the time that won’t cost you the game, but tonight it did– and it gave the Caps’ most likely playoff opponent a ticket to the dance.
I really don’t wanna see the Senators next week. I’d love a series against the Leafs, but that is now impossible. What match-up do you guys wanna see?
One more game left– Boston on Saturday night. Then the Capitals and RMNB kick things into high gear. Let’s do it.