Alex Ovechkin scores his first goal of the season. (Photo Bill Smith)
141 days after they got the boot by the Rangers, the Washington Capitals are back. You no longer have to talk to your friends, go out to dinner with your significant other, return calls from your family, or bathe with any regularity. From this moment until May at the earliest, your ass belongs to us.
I might have taken that too far. I’m sorry. I’m a bit excited over the return of net-crashing and the scoaring of goals (moar edition), imminent consummate Ovi-Grabo hookups, and all that stuff. I’m somewhat less psyched over everything that is happening in the Caps’ own zone and those teenage mutant ninja Caps, but whatever. It’s very early, and this was a game against a very tough opponent– one who has a real chance to repeat championships.
Here’s how it went down.
At the end of an Eric Fehr penalty, Jack Hillen’s weak clear allowed the puck to find Chicago’s Brandon Bollig in the crease. Bollig (6’2″, 223 lbs) easily out-muscled Connor Carrick (5’11”, 180 lbs) to score. Later, Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Mikhail Grabovski below the goal line to even it up on the power play, but Patrick Kane scored seconds later– right after Jonathan Teows gave Braden Holtby a bit of grease from behind.
In the second period, Mikhail Grabovski beat Corey Crawford on a two-on-one flanked by mobile decoy Jason Chimera. Brent Seabrook then re-established the Hawks’ lead with a goal off a rebound during a Connor Carrick hooking penalty.
Power play QB Mike Green set up Mikhail Grabovski for a tip-in to make it even at the top of the third period, thanks to Ovechkin’s defense-attracting skills. Green struck again on a subsequent power play–again setting up Mikhail Grabovski for a tip-in (that makes three). Brandon Saad exploited a turnover, executing a give-and-go to knot the score with 12 minutes left. Holtby let in some soft service on a shot from Johnny Oduya that probably was going wide. The Caps were unable to convert a late-game five-on-three, and Green tripped Marian Hossa on an empty-net breakaway, resulting in an automatic goal.
Hawks beat Caps 6-4. Welcome back, everybody.
- I didn’t watch a second of the Stanley Cup banner thing. Agents of SHIELD, baby. Tell me I’m a fake fan. I dare you.
- Here’s your boy John Walton’s call of Alex Ovechkin‘s first goal. We’re back, everybody.
- Was Alex Ovechkin experiencing jet lag following his trip to Greece? Summary judgment: no. Ovi wiped out once– committing a slashing in the process, but that’s just Ovi. He’s a runaway freight train, and sometimes he’s gonna go off the rails. Ovi was dominant in the first half hour, generating 7 shots and adding 2 more before the full 60 was up.
- How great was it to watch the Caps’ offense click! They generated piles of shots in the game’s first half, many of them directly off the stick of the Captain. Is this the return of Caps hockey in the style of 2008-2010? We won’t really know for a few weeks, but the first 30 minutes of this game were terrifically encouraging.
- The years of 2008-2010 weren’t known for stout defense, and in the annals of history nor will this game. The Caps’ best defense seemed to be to have possession of the puck for all of the minutes, and somewhat less awesome when Chicago was doing the part of the game where they try to score. This may need further research.
- To settle the debate from the summer, Mikhail Grabovski is officially jokes. Grabo scored a hat trick and added an assist in his first game as a Washington Capital. TOLD YOU SO. Grabo’s went Rambo-style on the Caps’ first goal. (Rambo-style. adj. To do a group activity alone, recklessly.) Huge game from the new guy.
- Meanwhile, in Montreal, a fight between George Parros and Colton Orr resulted in Parros going to the hospital. The video is kind of ghastly. Expect the conversation on fighting in the NHL to dial up a few notches this week. For my money, I don’t need people punching each other in the brain to enjoy ice hockey. I’d love to hear your take though. Best wishes to George Parros.
- The DOG is back. Mike Green put the puck over the glass late in the second period. I was really hoping the delays-of-game were a 2013-2013 thing, but no. The DOG is not neutered. The DOG continues to bite. And the DOG travels in packs, apparently, as Chicago gave up a delay-of-game late in the third, setting up the Caps for a climactic 5 on 3.
- Connor Carrick is like 15 years old. He’s winsome, absurdly talented, and in possession of a bright future. That said, Carrick was outmatched tonight– beaten in his own zone and committing a restraining penalty in his 10+ minutes on ice. Plus, Pierre McGuire totally butchered his name. Carrick’s sustained presence in the NHL is not guaranteed, but one game isn’t enough from which to draw a conclusion. We’ll see nine more at least.
- There aren’t many Caps defenders I’m happy about. Thinking about the comparable defensive depth in the division, I’m growing wary; those teams have something this one lacks. Way I see it, the Caps have three options: a) improve their defense through roster or tactics; b) compensate by scoring firewagon goals like Bruce wanted; or c) lose hockey games.
- Not Braden Holtby‘s night. That Oduya goal was some Wacky Races stuff, probably not needing any service from the goalie whatsoever. Instead, Holtby scored an own-goal, the game-winner for Chicago. Holtby had meh defense in front of him all night, which I’m sure we’ll all keep in mind in the comments.
This loss does not sting. It’s early, early days in the world of the 2013-14 Washington Capitals. We should be encouraged by the creativity and fervor of the Caps offense and sobered by their wobbly defense. 81 games to figure it out and make the playoffs. It can be done, and it’ll be lots of fun.
Don’t let this one get you down, guys. We’re just getting started.
I can’t even remember how to spell Ribearoh.
— Nate Ewell (@nateewell) October 2, 2013