Photo credit: Rob Carr
The Capitals’ power play, the main factor behind Washington’s early wins, has dropped off. So, too, has their penalty kill. Still, the team is finding ways to win — barely. Though they got four points over the weekend, both games took extra time. Nevertheless, the team’s five-on-five play has been improving. Would it be enough to defeat the new old division rival Canes?
The Caps played well in the first, with Jason Chimera nearly converting early on a scrum in front to give Washington the lead. Carolina, though, struck first. After Eric Staal fed him the puck from behind the net, Hockey Bieber — that would be Jeff Skinner — took a shot from the goal line. Braden Holtby couldn’t make to the near post in time as the puck deflected in off his nether regions.
In the second, things got out of hand. Midway through the frame, lil’ Skinner was at it again with fly ball from the near circle. Less than three minutes later, the Hurricanes pushed the lead to three as Andre Sekera unleashed a blast from the point on the power play that Holtby never saw. Point number three for Skinner. Fifty-three seconds later, it got even uglier when Jiri Tlusty put a nasty backhand top shelf. Ugh.
For the final frame, enter Philip Grubauer. The Caps didn’t show much life in the third, but at least Mike Green got on board for the first time since the Obama administration with a power play marker. Nothing more. Canes thump Caps, 4-1.
- I’m on limited sleep after two days at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Like Brooks Laich last season, I’m going to martyr myself for you and play anyway. This recap may not be good, but it’ll exist. If you see anything odd, just yell at Ian.
- We didn’t get to say hi to our old friend Alex Semin tonight. He’s out indefinitely with a concussion. Maybe he’ll be back by the time the next time these teams square off on December 20. But Sochi’s a-coming.
- You know how the Caps defense is bad? Well, that’s partly because they’ve been without baby-maker Jack Hillen, who fractured his tibial plateau back in October. We don’t know what that means either. Yesterday, Hillen updated reporters on his progress. He still in crutches after his surgery about a month in a half ago. Let’s hope he’ll be able to make before the end of the season. Barring a trade, Hillen’s the best hope to shore up the Capitals defense for the playoffs.
- The Caps power play as been awful lately. Since teams have started shadowing Ovi and John Carlson took over the point position on the first unit, Washington’s man-advantage unit as been anemic, scoring just five goals in their last 36 chances. Tonight, the puck was more often going the wrong way as the team fumbled passes and failed to exit their own zone cleanly — at least through two.
- In the third, however, Mike Green finally did that thing we’ve been wanting him to do. That’s right baby, Greenie scored a goal! Number 52 previously had the highest shot total of any player not to tally this year.
- Because of that bigger power play role, Carlson’s ice time has crept up. This was the ninth game in a row he led the Caps in TOI. JCar also registered a team-high five shots on goal.
- Braden Holtby laid an egg tonight after turning in an excellent performance on Saturday. Two of his four goals against were off weak shots. Holts has been a rock for the Caps, despite facing the third-most shots of any NHL goaltender. That workload, though, might be catching up to him. This was his 13th straight game in Washington’s net as Michal Neuvirth is out with a bum right leg. After 40, Adam Oates waved the white flag and put Philip Grubauer in net.
- Jason Chimera was a boss tonight. Three near goals: two in front, one on the rush. Chimmer’s earning his extension so far. He saw significant power play time tonight and got an assist on Green’s marker.
The Caps haven’t been playing great hockey lately. They lost four in a row, before squeaking out the last two. If they want remain near the top of the Metropolitan Division, they’ve got to pick up their special teams play. This team isn’t very special five-on-five. Anyway, I don’t have any more cogent thoughts on this one. Go watch New Girl or something