Photo: Greg Fiume
Wednesday night’s bout between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was billed as “Rivalry Night.” I’m not so sure. While the recent Rags and Caps teams have certainly made like Crystal Lake camp counselors– hooking up every May– the games have been as trite as an overcooked slasher flick. Both teams grew more neanderthal and conservative in the last few years, making for some really stifled hockey. Under Adam Oates’ increasingly offensive system and Alain Vigneault’s canuckley deployment, I hold out hope this will change, but nothing about Caps-Rangers gets me excited.
Those feelings, it turns out, were justified. The Capitals put up maybe their worst game of the year.
Scoreless through the midway mark, the Rangers broke through with a sneaky far-off wrister by John Moore and then a close-up skill move by Ryan Callahan.
That was it. Yuck.
Rangers beat Caps 2-0.
- First: to all our government employee peeps who will be returning to work: our gratitude and sympathy, and really just a whole big pile of emotion heading in your general direction. Thank you.
- The Capitals enjoyed a long power-play in the first, including a sizable chunk of 5-on-3 time. They didn’t come away with a goal, but they forced Lundqvist to make 4 saves and they got a ton of zone time. Some might castigate Joel Ward for missing an open net from the back door. If you are one of those folks, please recall that Ward positively sunk a similar but tougher shot last game. If you expect perfection, you are unreasonable and oft-disappointed. Ward’s been doing great, and I’m psyched to see him get more and better ice time. Earn that paycheck, dude.
- Tom Wilson and Justin Falk dropped gloves in the first period. I don’t wanna repeat myself, so I’ll just share what I said on Twitter and hope you guys catch my feels.
“Hey Justin” “Yeah, Tom?” “I’m about to get sent down to the OHL, can we rumble?” “Sure thing, pal.”
— RMNB (@russianmachine) October 17, 2013
- I watched exactly 0 seconds of NBCSN’s intermission coverage, so if you’re detecting an air of superiority from me, that’s only because I’m feeling really smug about it. NBC’s coverage was atrocious: missed camera angles, goofed player names (we do that too, but we don’t get paid a lot of money), and misunderstood calls. You know it’s bad when I can drop a triple on them without even mentioning Pierre.
- The Rangers are the worst possession team in the entire league, yet they dramatically outshot the Capitals. The main reason for that seems to be the Caps’ inability exit their own zone. The Caps went long stretches — more than five minutes at one point– in that god-awful second period without doing anything at all in the offensive zone– allowing the Rangers to get 15 consecutive, unanswered shot attempts.
- Here’s the John Moore goal, which capped off a freaking truckload of zone time for New York:
- Troy Brouwer put his shoulder into Derek Stepan‘s head early in the third. It was a blind hit, and Stepan was apparently injured. There are two schools of thought: a) Troy was watching the puck and unaware of his or Stepan’s positions as he skated towards the bench, b) That’s a dirty hit and Brouwer should get suspended. Put me in the second group (3-game suspension), though I welcome more evidence.
- Why are my recaps so long this season?
- Eddie Olczyk predicting that Adam Oates would shuffle his lines after the second period cracks me up. The coverage we get out of Joe, Craig, Al, and Alan is just miles better.
- Jason Chimera lost his wheels in the third period, hitting the board pretty hard. He went to the locker room after that and never returned. If that’s the event that gets Martin Erat off the fourth line, I’m not so mean as to say I’m grateful. I’m probably just gonna think it and keep it to myself.
- Alex Ovechkin didn’t score, but he’s doing exactly what he needs to do: shooting like crazy. He put 8 shots on goal tonight– keeping himself on pace to shatter the single-season shot record (and probably crack 50 goals). Please perform a sample-size sanity check after reading this bullet point.
- Someone cook Braden Holtby a casserole. He was excellent tonight– it’s just that his team left him out to dry like laundry that is wet so you leave it out so that it dries. Ya know, I don’t think I get that metaphor.
I know this is a broken record, but the season is still early and I still doubt it’ll keep going like this. If it does, the Capitals will have their first losing season since 2006-07. I’m confident that won’t happen, but I’m curious when the inevitable turnaround will actually occur.
Adam Oates has clung to his lines though seven games, all the while trying to create precious chemistry. My worry is that chemistry has already been reached, and it’s just as inert as a noble gas:
- Marcus Johansson does not shoot– ever, making Alex Ovechkin’s line pretty one-dimensional.
- Troy Brouwer, the team’s weakest possession player, is doing nothing to exploit Mikhail Grabovski’s play-driving.
- Ward-Chimera-Fehr, surprisingly, is solid.
- The fourth line doesn’t play enough to draw any conclusions except for us to marvel at the desolation that is Washington Capital Martin Erat.
The good news is that the Capitals’ opponents are pretty bad hockey teams through the end of the month. No more waiting. As Lucas from Empire Records quoted that drunken buffoon Jim Morrison: “The time for hesitation is through.”
I’m taking Saturday night off to do the standing still at the Dismemberment Plan concert at the 9:30. Your boy Chris Gordon will provide coverage of Saturday night at the Blue Jackets, who I’m told are an actual hockey team.
Please share your thoughts below. Give us something to feel good about, please.