New Jersey Comeback: Devils beat Caps 5-4 (OT)

Ward celebrates - Patrick McDermott

Look how tiny Jagr looks. (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

I hate the way the Devils play. They stifle offense (i.e. fun, Capitals-style hockey) and execute the trap as if it’s not something to be ashamed of. Luckily, they did it poorly on Saturday night. What I expected to be a low-scoaring affair ended up being a crash-the-net party with a whole lot going on. The Caps exploded in the second period, but the Devils rallied in the third and won it in overtime.

For the Devils’ first shot, Marek Zidlicky got a dart past Braden Holtby on the power play. The Caps struck back with three goals in the second period, starting with Jason Chimera whacking in his own rebound from right under Brodeur’s nose. Mikhail Grabovski caught Eric Fehr’s pass right in the paint and knocked it in to give the Caps the lead, and Joel Ward crashed the net to make it 3-1 going into the third.

Jagr scored in the third period. I don’t want to talk about it. Alex Ovechkin was in the penalty box for that one, but he redeemed himself with an even-strength goal from the slot a few minutes later. The Devils rallied late: Zidlicky got his second of the night with a wide open one-timer, and Dainus Zubrus tied it with eight minutes left. That’s the way it stood at the end of regulation.

Game Over Andy Greene got a lucky bounce in overtime to win it for Jersey and save us all from the shootout.

Devils beat Caps 5-4 (OT).

“After all this time?” “Always.”

  • Alex Ovechkin has cracked 30 goals in just his 34th game of the year. All of your “400” signs are now out of date.
  • In a disaster shift, Tom Wilson took a puck to the face, and then skated that same face directly into Travis Zajac‘s elbow. Wilson retreated to the locker room to get looked at, but he came right back. Since Tom is okay, the sequence is more of comedy of errors than anything scary. Poor guy. And no, I really don’t think Zajac did anything naughty there.
  • Defensive play of the game? That’d have to be John Carlson sweeping away a loose puck before the Devils tapped it in. Not-defensive play of the game? John Erskine opting to hit a dude instead of keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Mike Green clearing Adam Henrique‘s shooting lane in the third is up there too.
  • Martin Erat is running on a three-game assist streak– with two apples tonight alone. He’s still without a goal this year, but his excellent play just underscores what everyone is thinking: Trade the bum!
  • That second period featured three Caps goals, all at even strength. After struggling at 5v5 all year and stealing the win on Friday on the power play, it’s great to see some variety in the Caps arsenal. They were all high-quality goals if you ask me. Jason Chimera whacking away from the paint, Grabo waiting for a saucy pass in the paint, and Wardo crashing the paint on the rush. Detecting a pattern?
  • Fun side stories tonight: Fans with Ovi signs, the Caps made a video for the 400th goal, Kurt Busch was at the game and didn’t fight anyone. Less fun side stories: Michael Phelps was there.
  • Caps #1 goalie Braden Holtby was solid in his return– at least during five-on-five (.935 Sv%). The Devils struck twice on the power play, which isn’t so damning for Braden’s numbers. I expect to his play even out in coming weeks.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

Well, that was unfortunate.

The Caps got a point, but they should have had two. Getting goals against the Devils ain’t easy, and the Caps should be glad they got four. But they didn’t give those goals the respect they deserved, and they allowed the Devs to sneak back into it. This one shouldn’t have been a loss. It should not have gone to overtime at all.

All those lovely even-strength goals for naught. Or, I guess, all those lovely even-strength for a stupid loser point.

That’s a bummer, but the individual efforts we saw here shouldn’t be discounted. Real solid scoring work by all the forwards. Hopefully the Caps can build on that next week.

  • Bob

    Holtby sucks right now, i wish this team had the ability to put a team away instead of letting their foot off the gas and getting comfortable. We don’t deserve the 1 charity point for this game

  • dylan wheatley

    the devils are a good possession team

  • Burn

    Agreed. Every shot low blocker side is an adventure right now, as is any recovery play post-to-post. Let’s not mention that fourth goal, either. He was the skill, has just been fighting the puck all season.

  • Freedoooom

    Carlzner sucks. Stop forcing it Oates.

    Inb4 downvotes even though Carlzner were on for all 5 goals against.

  • Jack Conness

    I’m at work now and missed the whole game. Can someone fill me in on Holtby? Was it another bad game for him?

  • Alright, I’ll say it again: Holtby wasn’t the problem. He was .909 during evens and .935 during 5v5. The story isn’t him; it’s the team allowing 37 shots on goal.

  • Marky Narc

    Somewhat lost in all the scoar-nanigans: Orlov with another quiet yet solid game. 23 minutes of ice time, on the ice for one goal for and one goal against (unfortunately, the one goal against was the GWG).

    Not all that long ago, those charged with the duty of assessing talent in this organization did not think he was an NHL-ready player. This team is completely unable to properly assess the skill level of defensemen in the system whose last names begin with the letter O and are five letters long. Orlov, Oduya…. um…. uh, well OK just those two hey this joke was funnier in my head before I started typing cut me some slack go caps

  • Wow. I missed that. On for EVERY goal against.

  • Bench70

    I’m so incredibly tired of him deciding he is an offensive player, trying to make a play, failing, then being out of position and they score. Kolzig played like this, and unfortunately passes this on to him which he is entirely incapable of.

    Not to mention – he’s incredibly inconsistent. Sure, Peter will respond with a bunch of fancy stats (which I love, by the way) that says he really isn’t inconsistent. On the season as a whole, it averages out. Week-to-week, this guy is the pits.

  • I liked Carlson with Orlov. Let’s put those two together and get Alzner together with Green.

  • JenniferH

    No. Read Peter’s comment above yours and the recap. Holtby was fine, made some fantastic saves.

  • Bob

    4 out of 5 goals were soft

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    Oates likes Erskine and Holtby. He keeps playing them. Idk why???

  • Marky Narc

    This boxscore had Orlov on for the OT goal instead of Alzner, but I’m with you 100%.

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    Everytime we play Holtby we either let up 3-4 goals while he is in the net and we have to come back from 3 goal lead or end up losing.

  • Bench70

    Peter – he can’t stay in the crease. What is the goalie paid to do? Protect the crease. His ‘offensive’ play is miserable, and frequently puts him out of position.

  • Blaming a goalie when your team allows 37 shots on goal is silly.

  • yv

    Caps decided to switch Grubi for Holtby at the last moment and here the result, Couple goals were savable. His giveaway was the one that made the score even. And looks like Alzner will again ask head coach to separate him from Carlson.

  • CapsCast

    I agree about Erskine. Holtby has actually played really well considering how he gets peppered with 35+ shots most games. The defense/ system bears a lot of the blame for the final results.

  • Ash

    Yo, I just checked the stats from the past games and I have a shocking discovery: the Caps have NOT actually let up 3 or 4 goals every time Holtby plays and need to come back from a 3 goal lead or end up losing. Bizarre, right?

  • Matt Root

    Grubby playing so well was such a bad thing (stay with me) only because everyone wants to cast off Holtby now. Happened to Jose and Varly, as well as happening to Neuvy for this year. But it certainly must not be the awful defensive play of the guys in front. /snark

  • Sam B.

    I’m guessing when you see the puck come at you 35+ times/game on average then you end up fighting the puck. Until there is some attempt to reduce the shots against they are playing a losing numbers game. What goalie makes 39-40 saves a night on aveage? None I’m aware of.

  • Matt Root

    Peter or Ian, confirm / deny that this is the longest conversation with ones self on RMNB.

  • JenniferH

    And I’ve been watching goalies on the other teams, ALL goalies do this. It’s part of the job. You go out of the crease on occasion to help facilitate play.

  • JenniferH

    Orlov ROCKS!

  • JenniferH

    Agreed. I think they play nice together.

  • Bench70

    Alright, I can concede that point, but I just can’t deal with soft goals – even one. Are we really gaining an advantage with him outside?

  • dylan wheatley

    no you dont understand what matters is that holtby only stopped 14 more shots than some moron named martin brodeur

  • Bob

    your right im a 12 year old psychopath who likes to have conversations with myself…smh

  • Ash

    Holtby playing the puck is a strength. He does occasionally get burned– but any goalie who plays the puck does sometimes (even Brodeur!), and the advantages far outweigh the occasional gaffe.

  • Matt

    Putting Erskine and Holtby in the same class is just plain wrong.

  • Ash

    Hey, Peter and Ian, will Dima ever get his name back on the banner up top? Is there a milestone we’re waiting for? Or are you just waiting to make sure he sticks up here?

  • Matt Root

    Exactly. He’s set up many breakaways or odd-man rushes while the opposing team is switching lines. I’d much rather him be active in playing the puck.

  • Matt Root

    I would happily get my Orlov sweater if I wasn’t scared GMGM may trade him 🙁

  • dylan wheatley

    not saying this to be negative, it’s just that the devils are a very good possession team, and possession wins stanley cups. i’m angry that the caps lost tonight, but they lost to a team that plays the type of hockey that wins championships.

    it would be nice if the caps started playing like that, they certainly have the roster for it.

  • Matt Root

    Clearly there is no reason anyone would get that impression.

  • dylan wheatley

    he isn’t getting traded.

  • JenniferH

    Obviously not happy about the loss, but I still enjoyed watching the game. We played good overall, I thought. It was a good team effort, the 5v5 was some good play. Obviously, our defense (as always) needs work. I noticed that the first PP goal there was no one in front (or practically anywhere near) Holtby when that shot came through. Holtby was all on his lonesome defending that one. And one of the later ones (I think Jagr’s 4th), Holtby didn’t have time to get to the other side of the net after making an awesome save on one side and one of the defensemen wasn’t there in time to cover Jagr. Holts can’t be in two places at once. That’s why there are defensemen. *sigh*

    But, it was a good game to watch and I thought that overall, we put up a great effort. We shoulda won that one, though, grrr. And poor Willy baby! 🙁

  • Matt Root

    I have trust issues with George, Dylan. I thought you knew this! haha

  • They responded to his trade request by giving him a jersey and not taking him out of the line-up. I’m pretty sure he’s here to stay now, but – this team – who knows.

  • That’s Peter’s domain so I’ll let him answer, but I’m very supportive of putting his name back up there.

  • Bob

    your hurting my feelings man, cyber bullying is so 2012

  • dylan wheatley

    orlov is a future all star, he won’t be traded.

  • dylan wheatley


  • JenniferH

    See Ash and Matt Root below, plenty of advantages and both AO, Calle and Joe B/Locker have talked about what an advantage Braden’s puck-handling skills are. He’s very impressive with his puck-handling skills and that comes when he leaves the crease. It’s part of goal-tending. All goalies do it, some better than others. Holts is one of the ‘better than others’ actually.

  • Ash

    Just curious (and hopeful!) I remember before how you guys waited until he scored his first goal. It was awesome.

  • Bob

    Peter or Ian, confirm / deny that this is the longest conversation with ones self on RMNB.

  • yv

    Grubi had 41 shots and save 39 of them with Car. GT job is not allow savable goals regardless of shots number.

  • Matt, I think you found literally the ONLY way to not correctly spell Grubauer’s nickname there. Hahaha.

  • Matt Root

    I saw it afterwards, and then decided.. why not. Grub, grubby.. made someone laugh, eases the frustration of tonights game hah

  • Braden LOLtby

    holtby sucks but everyone always defends him, there’s your recap

  • Pat Magee

    Holtby isn’t the problem. Number 4 is. BRING BACK 88!!!

  • Bugs Fire

    Am I imagining this or Mike Green just had a decent game? No shots on goal (not sure why the slapshot that created Ward’s goal does not count), but 3 blocked shots, assist and best +/- of the team. He was not on the ice for any of the Devils goals. I know Carlson/Alzner were not much of a shutdown D tonight, but in theory they should.

    Maybe key to the return of the Green is Orlov? Who, by the way, was very good. A lot can be said about Green’s hesitation with the puck in own zone, but maybe all it takes is Orlov getting in a good position so that Green can make a safe pass?

    With all the negativity hurled at Green in recent weeks/months, let’s admire his play on the third goal.

  • Bugs Fire

    Here is a curious stat – the number of saves made per game by a goalie. Best in the league right now (only counting those who played >10 games) is Ryan Miller, ~33 saves per game. And then comes Holtby, who averages ~29.5 saves per full game. Brodeur is 45th, with exactly 22 saves.

    Of course, this does not tell you that Holtby is better than Brodeur, just that he has a tougher job with many more shots coming his way. Also, James Reimer gets the top spot if counting saves per minute played (0.58), with Holtby (0.54) falling to the third behind Miller (0.56). This means that while Holtby saves more shots per game when he plays well, he gets chased out of the net more often.

    This maybe a good stat complementary to Sv%. Obviously, it’s easier to maintain better Sv% while facing fewer shots.

    To complete the picture, the three goalies with the lowest number of saves per minute played (again >10 games between the pipes) are Cory Schneider (0.36), Martin Brodeur (0.37), and Jonathan Quick (0.37).

  • Roman Z.

    “Yeah sure let’s just play Holtby and hope for the best” – confused Adam Oates

  • Roman Z.

    He was bad …

  • Brian Thomas

    I wouldn’t blame him for tonight, I just think his puck handling adventures are hard for fans to take lately. He’s proven that can be a plus to his game, but right now I tense up whenever he leaves the net, and I cover my eyes on the shifts immediately following a Caps goal. Like when he bobbled the puck 10 seconds after we went ahead 3-2 I think it was, nothing happened but I’m sure every Cap fan had visions of yet another deflating goal-immediately-after-a-Caps-goal dancing in their head.

  • “scoar-nanigans”

  • boom

  • You can look at that stuff retrospectively and it’s fine, but when you get down to it, we are pretty damn sure that Holtby is an above average goaltender. We have no idea if Grubi is. And we’re starting to grow more certain that Neuvy is SLIGHTLY below average.

  • Grubrouwer

  • The number of shots faced by a goalie is not up to him. The only thing he can control is the rate– or percentage– of those shots he saves.

    That percentage is gonna fluctuate wildly. Even a Vezina winner is gonna have a night where he saves .850. Even a bad goalie is gonna have a night where he gets the shutout.

    That’s why we like huge amounts of data for our goalies before we draw conclusions, and that’s why it’s okay to get excited about Grubi but also think it’s unwise to use him over Holtby, whom we know (or are pretty sure) is above average.

    You’re right that some goalies are used more aggressively than others. Brodeur, for example, sees very few shots overall. Caps goalies, on the other hand, usually get slammed. But ultimately it’s a matter of proportion (Sv%) not raw totals (# of saves).

    (That said, I’m working on some data about workload that might be helpful about this!)

  • More on this coming next week!

  • ?!?!?!

  • GuestZ

    What good does it do discussing this point, or others like it, when the CAPS management peoples appear to make them moot? I’m glad it gives you something to write about, but it sure is damn tiresome banging our collective heads against slow-moving, Erskine-framed walls.

  • CapAttack

    Can we get Johansson off the ice? He has 0 penalty minutes. You know why? Because he’s never close enough to the opponent or going in hard after the puck to take a penalty. Also, all his fancy entries to the zone happen on the PP or in OT when there is more ice. 5v5 he’s got to be one of, if not the WORST top 6 forward in the league. Ovie and Backstrom are doing all this work and he’s standing around like he’s in a daydream. On top of all that when someone puts it on net, he’s no where to be found because the opponents D AND GOALIE and have no problem pushing him out of the way, its as if he weighs 30 pounds. I’m so tired of this clown, please stick him on the 4th line and put a big body up with Nick and Alex.

  • Matt Lauer

    Couldn’t agree more. This is yet another in a line of bad personnel assessments made by the coaching staff.

  • Ash


  • Ash

    Just a quick note, but Mojo draws way more penalties than he takes which is, uh, a GOOD thing, actually. His board work has vastly improved– remember him fighting through Wisniewski to feed Ovi for the OTGWG against the Blue Jackets? His zone entries carrying the puck are part of what’s helped Ovechkin’s scoring resurgence. Also, he’s been in front of the net more often; he scored the first goal against the Canes on a rebound all of– gosh, two games ago!

    This is a comment of immense and inaccurate hyperbole. Pretty much everything you said is entirely opposite and wrong, which is more hilarious than anything else. Or you’re trapped in an alternate dimension and watching some bizarro world version of Johansson, which is indeed worrisome, and you should get that checked out.