Happy times! (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Finishing up their longest home stand of the season, the Washington Capitals took on new look (!) Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday. Facing a bunch of weak teams, the Caps didn’t do well in their last four games of their five game set at Verizon Center, posting a record of 1-3 and falling to 2-5 overall. Yesterday, Adam Oates had enough and went all “Screw everything! YOLO!” on the lines. Erat to the second! Fehr on the fourth! Grabo on the third! Other things! Par-ty!
No offense in the first frame. In the second, though, power play powerhouse Joel Ward rifled one top shelf on Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Caps the lead. Washington added to it about six minutes later when Brooks Laich popped in the rebound after Steve Oleksy’s inexplicably fancy stick work. The Caps took it home in the third with tallies from Troy Brouwer and Alex Ovechkin. Garbage goal for Artem Anisimov late. Wee! Caps top Jackets 4-1.
- Saturday was Hockey Fights Cancer night at Verizon Center. Pink laces, purple numbers, and some money raised to stop a terrible affliction. Nice work, Caps!
- Thanks to realignment, the Caps and Jackets are now Metro division foes. Tonight was the first time the teams have squared off since 2011, back when Obama was president.
- Despite all the line juggling, Marcus Johansson kept his spot on the first line. The top trio has been very top heavy this year, with Ovechkin generating over vast majority of the group’s shot attempts. Mojo has been particularly bad in that department, registering just three shots on goal before tonight. Johansson, though, more than doubled that number tonight with four — yes four — shots on net. Perhaps Oatsie had a talk with the young Swede.
- John Carlson was paired with his bro Karl Alzner on the first pairing tonight. JCar has played rather poorly this year — he’s been on the ice for six goals against — so the idea of throwing him on the ice for a bunch of minutes doesn’t appeal me. Still, Carlzner’s back together, which is cool because that’s a neat nickname.
- Joel Ward‘s got two goals in his last three games — both on the power play. Tonight, he finished off a nice little triangle passing play with a snipe from the slot. Ovi who?
- Brooks Laich registered his second goal of the season on tap-in in front after a sick move by Steve Oleksy. Really. Ian’ll probably GIF it.
- That was just the first tally for the new look second line of Martin Erat, Laich, and Troy Brouwer, which looked lovely in the offensive zone tonight. Perhaps one of those guys should have been a top-six forward earlier in the year. Just a thought.
- Brouwer would give the Caps a 3-0 lead when he popped in his own rebound on a nice play in front.
- Finishing off the second line talk, the newly freed Erat had three apples. All hail. All hail. All hail.
- Capping off the scoring, Ovi netted a one-timer from the Ovi Spot on the power play. Yawn.
- The man advantage continues to be Washington’s party piece. Two goals in five chances for the unit against the Jackets.
- Anisimov may have ruined the shutout, but Braden Holtby was sublime tonight, making 37 saves in the victory. Good on him.
- Did I mention the second line was awesome tonight?
Let’s hope this isn’t a flash in the pan like the Oilers game. The Caps aren’t as bad as their record suggests, but this team still has structural problems — particularly at defense. Perhaps this isn’t the year for a last minute rental at the deadline. But enough of that! Seriously, stop listening to me. The Caps played great tonight. A win! Two points! Victory! Feels nice, eh?
Peter will be back with you Tuesday when the Caps go north to face
division rival some dudes from Canada, the Winnipeg Jets.