Captains (Photo: Abelimages)
What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object? That was my question before Saturday’s game between the low-shooting Leafs and please-shoot-moar-pucks-at-our-goalie Capitals.
Well. Now we know. The Capitals dominated possession at evens, and kept the Leafs to minimal offense. David Clarkson tipped in a long bomb on a second-period power play. The Caps couldn’t beat Reimer until Alex Ovechkin got a mean-ass one-timer in the third.
Overtime couldn’t settle it, so let’s do the shootout bullets!
- Clarkson had speed but no accuracy
- FEHR SCOAR! YAYYYYYY WE LOVE HIM
- JVR snuck one past Holtby
- Ovi got stopped trying the five-hole
- Mason Raymond lost the puck like a noob
- B-day boy Backstrom got denied
- Joffrey Lupul repaid his debts
- Troy Brouwer missed, d’oh
Leafs beat Caps 2-1 (Shootout).
- Thank goodness the Caps broke up Reimer’s shutout. It would have been two in three, despite the team more than doubling their shot count from the Pittsburgh game.
- Adam Oates did some line-fiddlin’ before this one. Brooks Laich was sent to what everyone thinks his natural position: third-line center. I like it. You?
- The new Chimera-Laich-Ward line was responsible for most of the Caps’ offense in the first half.
- The Caps top line survived the the line shake-up unscathed. Surprisinly, the Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin line were shut down effectively; they had nary a shot attempt through 20 minutes. Alex Ovechkin didn’t get one on net until 5 minutes into the second, but he ended up back on pace. Credit for slowing him down early goes to Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson, who were all over Ovi. Phaneuf was a somewhat less all up on when Ovi secured that one-timer goal late in the third.
- The Capitals seem to have trouble breaking up their opponents’ zone time. The Leafs had a few extended stay visits in the Caps zone that required bad passes by the home team to end. How gracious of them to give the Caps some room to breathe.
- David Clarkson‘s high deflection to score reminded me of the DeSharnais goal on Friday. Those are pretty much impossible to stop. That was Clarkson’s second goal of the season (he missed 10 games due to suspension) and just the second shot by the Leafs in the second period. If you’re a “teams can reliably control shot quality” person, stuff the back half of this bullet in your portfolio.
- Mikhail Grabovski took a scary, scary, scary skate to the face at the end of the second period. He could have lost an eye. We’ve got the media; watch at your discretion. Grabo got a ton of stitches and returned to the game because it’s hockey. Now he looks like he got bit in the face by a werevambie.
- The Leafs defense was all up on Alex Ovechkin during the power play. To counteract that, Ovi became the middle man in the third, surrendering the Ovi spot to Troy Brouwer. Brouwer had one chance for a Brouwer shot from the Ovi spot. He whiffed.
- But Troy was boss at evens. Having Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr on your line can do that.
- Can someone explain to me what Dion Phaneuf‘s grudge towards Marcus Johansson was about? The Toronto captain was picking on Marcus all night. I don’t get it. What did Marcus ever do to anyone?
- Reimer’s good.
- I made it through the bullets without comparing the extracurricular activities of Toronto’s and Washington’s mayors. Yay me. If Laich got an assist tonight, I was gonna say “The Brooks set me up!” and you guys were gonna laaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh.
- The Caps’ 50 shots on goal is a franchise record for a road game. Plus, the Caps kept the Leafs under 30 shots, so everything is hunky dory.
- No Grabo in the shootout? Weird. At least, Fehr made his statement.
Tough way to lose, but that’s how the Leafs do things I guess. We’ll see them again on their long journey to the bottom of the conference.
Hey, it’s getting old talking about how good Ovi is.
Ohhhh, he leads the league in goals! Ooooh, his level of production is entirely sustainable and not driven by unstable percentages! La dee da, he’s scoring in new and different ways that reveal the depth of his creativity! *Whistles* This is an unprecedented and entirely unexpected renaissance for our favorite player! Wah wah wah, he may be the best scorer the league has seen in two decades!
Whatever else is going on with the team, let’s always keep in mind how lucky we are to see Alex Ovechkin work. Let Ovi Be Ovi at last.
I don’t like having Martin Erat out of the lineup, but I very much enjoyed how Oates organized his forwards tonight. For the record, here are those lines again:
Johansson – Backstrom – Ovechkin
Fehr – Grabovski – Brouwer
Chimera – Laich – Ward
Volpatti – Latta – Wilson
The second line has two players who drive play and one who can crash the net. The third line is a rock with two sturdy two-way players and one ice cheetah made of industrial-grade sandpaper.
So when Erat comes back (and he must), where do you fit him in?
Whatever. Despite the loss, that was a good way to spend a Saturday night. The Caps proved they could own the puck against a weaker team, and they kept on challenging a good goalie until he cracked. The losing streak goes to three games, but this was a respectable effort.
P.S. Thanks to Toronto Maple Leafs Hot Stove Hangout for having me on tonight.