Canes beat Caps 4-3 (OT) to Kick Off 2014

Ovi alone  - Rob Carr

Photo: Rob Carr

Happy new year and happy snow day, Caps people! 2013 was fun. 2014 is going to be even better. We’re kicking it off with a home game against Seminlina Staalicanes and their goalie for the night, Anton Qdoba. This first game of the year featured a second-period bulge in the scoresheet, Alex Ovechkin getting off the schneid (whatever that is), and a whole bunch of that thing where the Caps get scored on right after getting a goal. I hate that thing.

Jeff Skinner roofed it on a first-period 5-on-3 that was more like a 5-on-2 once Nick Backstrom broke his stick.

Alex Ovechkin struck back with a “dart” in the second, but Manny Malhotra (whom I love) returned fire a minute later. Troy Brouwer tied it up with a backhander from the backdoor, and Steve Oleksy earned the lead, but then Jeff Skinner returned fire a minute later.

The third period was pointless except that it guaranteed both teams a standings point. Skinner got the hat trick and the win with a 3-on-1 in overtime setup by a no-look Ovechkin pass and a bad pinch by Orlov.

Canes beat Caps 4-3 (Overtime).

  • In the grand scheme of things, I suppose we’ll remember this one as The One With Ovi on the Second Line. For the record, here are your lines for Thursday, January 2, 2014:

Johansson-Backstrom-Brouwer
Fehr-Grabovski-Ovechkin
Chimera-Erat-Ward
Laich-Beagle-Wilson

  • If you ask me, and you kinda did by reading this, any line with Alex Ovechkin is the top line. And while I don’t hate these lines as much as others, I didn’t think it was a needed change.
  • Me, in the Sunday Snapshot: ” I wouldn’t mind seeing Fehr on the top line.” Next week: “I want a million dollars and a date with Jennifer Lawrence.” Fehr  + Ovi + Grabo resulted in 9 shots on goal for the Captain. Maybe that means Ovi is great, or that he doesn’t always need Backstrom, or– like usual– Mikhail Grabovski is awesome. Too soon to say, I guess.
  • Alex Ovechkin ended a scoring drought that had all of Caps fandom breathing into paper bags. JKJKJKJK. No one really cared. Players go on cold steaks all the time, and Ovi was shooting through the whole thing. I count five streaks where Ovi went 25+ shots without a goal since he started in the league. It happens, and now it’s over. Ovi is the best. Tell me otherwise. Seriously. Right now. I’m gonna put on this wrestling unitard, lather myself in lard, and start doing calisthenics while scowling at you, but you just keep talking.
  • Ovi drew a penalty shot after a dramatic breakaway in the second period. The puck rolled on him, so Ovi didn’t really get a shot off. Sad trombone.
  • The Capitals become the worst team in the league after they score a goal. Twice on Thursday the Caps surrendered a goal within one minute of scoring. I have nothing happy to say here.
  • Aaron Volpatti got scratched tonight. That’s Aaron Volpatti, who has an on-ice presence worse than Colton Orr and John Scott and probably me even though I’ve been sick for a full week now. I’ll take Brooks Laich and the #brittlegroin over that any day.
  • But then Oates shifted up lines in the worst way possible– demoting Martin Erat to the fourth line and putting Brooks Laich between Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. In one move, that took all the puck control out of a formerly dynamic third line and continued to sabotage any kind of healthy relationship between the club and Erat.
  • I didn’t even know Steve Oleksy was allowed to score. Give us that steely look again, Steve.
  • By my count, Dmitry Orlov skated 100+ feet with the puck twice in this game. It looked cool, but earlier reports were that Oates likes his D-men to deal the puck within five feet of gaining possession, so… was that a bad thing? I hope not. Orly’s pinch to lose another game on the other hand…
  • Karl Alzner had 3 shots on goal. His next goal is coming– and it will tie his career high.
Joe B suit of the night

wefwefwefweJoe B suit of the night

Guys, I figured it out. Grubauer has, like, nude photos of Oates or something. And unless he gets every single start in net, Grubi is gonna put the #OatesNudes on tumblr. I’d say I’m about 87% sure about this.

As long as Grubi plays well, it’s fine that coach keeps playing the hot hand. But the thing about the hot hand is that it doesn’t stay hot forever. And also that it pisses off the cold hands and then they request trades, sending their asset values plummeting.

The Caps played a solid possession game, lost the lead due to special teams, but kept plugging away anyway. The goal-after-goal disease is as bad as ever, and it obviously cost them a regulation win. With the score eternally close, any dumb mistake can cost the team the game, and that’s exactly what happened. Let’s not dwell on the mistakes; let’s dwell on the circumstances that made them matter so much.

We’re halfway now, and that kinda tells the story. The Caps *can* own possession if they (and their coach) can get out of their own way. It they can button up after scoring, they can start blowing out their opponents. And if Ovi can shoot, Ovi can score.

No one thinks the Caps are there yet, but with half the campaign yet to go, they can get there. It ain’t gonna happen without some bold moves though. I hope you’ll join us to watch it together.

Now drive safe, y’all!

  • Sammy Dreamer

    Do the Caps go to Holtby now?

  • Jack Conness

    I just feel like something is missing from this team. I can’t put a finger on it though. I don’t know if they need to get someone, move someone, or if it has something to do with Oates. But these Caps are missing something. They have to turn it around.

  • Jack Conness

    Gruby obviously didn’t have his A-game today but he played solid nonetheless. Holtby NEEDS to see some time in net though. Against the Wild for sure.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    “Orly’s pinch to lose two consecutive games on the other hand…”

    Yes, it totally wasn’t Ovechkin’s dangerous pass, and Mike Green not going down to take away the pass at the end of the game which did them in.

    OT hockey is about pinching and creating odd-man breaks. Ovi put his comrade in a tough spot there.

  • Bob

    Caps continuing to show their true colors, a team that is of average talent with terrible defense. Going to be out of a playoff spot real soon.

  • H70

    Can we have Holtby back now please? I still like Grubi but breakaways are not his thing.

  • Owen Johnson

    Hopefully the Wild (still think it’s kind of a dumb name) start Nick Backstrom #2

  • Brendan Maltese

    Can we get a screen cap of Ovi laying belly down on the ice with that goofy grin on his face? I think it was somewhere in the 2nd period.

  • Myan

    How many odd man rushes vs Green have turned into goals now? My boyfriend and I are literally screaming “LAY DOWN! LAY DOWN!” and all Greenie can muster is to put his paws on the ice leaving holes galore. Lay down and force the dude to sauce it over you. Doesn’t he know that his goalie takes the shot and he takes the pass on an odd man rush??? I’m slightly perturbed that this has happened multiple times and there’s no adjustment made on Green’s part to force a different outcome.

  • Bob

    I really dislike Jeff skinner as well. I pray he gets traded to a western conference team so we only see him 2 times a season

  • Marky Narc

    How frustrating is this recent spell? Game after game after game we’ve been wishin’ & hopin’ the Caps could close the shot gap/shot attempt gap/Fenwick gap…. then, they do exactly that for three games and what happens? Not a single regulation win in there.

    (Spoiler: It’s very frustrating.)

    I know, I know, “average team plays average hockey” is not a news flash and we’re only talking three games here, but I just had to get that out of my system.

    One oddball stat I noticed over at extraskater.com – the Caps had nine different players with at least one faceoff tonight. I wonder what the record for that sort of thing is.

    By the way, it’s pretty amazing that we are halfway through the regular season and Johansson has zero penalty minutes. None. You’d think a coincidental minor or a damn dirty DOG would have slipped in there or something, but no. It’s been 41 games and MJ90 hasn’t been assessed a single penalty.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Okay, YOU write the recap.

  • Red

    It had to be Skinner, didn’t it? And with the hat trick? @#(*&@! Just shoot me now. Undefeated @Verizon center. Wow. Maybe our fans need to boo less and cheer more.

  • Myan

    Really bad pass but IMO it doesn’t make sense to be the third man up on a 4v4 especially when your pinch lets 2 guys in behind you.

  • Marky Narc

    Oh! Also, Peter – Jennifer wanted to pass this message on to you. http://i.imgur.com/vpXn1cL.gif

  • James Desautels

    Agreed. I find myself wondering if Green seems to be caught in so many odd man rushes wouldn’t they talk that up at practice? I am yelling at the TV consistently, “Greenie take the pass lane, LAY DOWN.” he never hears me though.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I don’t see how “average talent” is a defensible statement.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    CLUSTER

  • Myan

    The fact that there’s been no adjustment makes me think that the coaching staff wants to “solve” this odd man problem by eliminating odd man rushes altogether. The last two times Green got caught on the odd man, Orlov attempted ill-advised pinches and got burned. Maybe the coaches expect Orlov to “take care of business in our end” and that’ll solve the odd man rush problem?

  • Matt Root

    I agree and I feel that the Caps really had momentum during the closing moments of the third and were circling again. That pass had goal or bust written all over it but I’m going to stand by my “Holtby theory” and say I’d rather the team take a bold chance to win the game than turtle into a passive stalemate.

    Holtby theory = the long-standing debate of whether he should play the puck as often in an attempt to create a scoring opportunity.. which I am all for. Sometimes it burns, though.

    Can we just pickup Skinner somehow so we can stop being burned by him? At least Evander Kane is sitting in the West now so this won’t happen twice as much.

  • Myan

    I’d be surprised if Holtby doesn’t get the start in Minnesota. Grubi had a pretty average night so Minnesota is Holtby’s chance to earn his spot back. He’ll bring his A-Game. #Holtbeast

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    They still need a defensive upgrade for sure. I think the O lines are fine except on the 4th.

  • Matt Root

    *Insert anti-GMGM sentiment*

    I don’t like the guys stance on roster moves, but I have no clue as to what needs to be changed either. It’s a job I don’t envy at all.

  • Red

    Heimlich maneuver: A technique of abdominal thrusts for stopping choking.
    Somebody give Green one.

  • Freedoooom

    Seriously, screw these damn referees. Both Erat and Grabo within 5 feet of the bench. Morons.

    http://i.minus.com/ibgQhmU9r0JgHL.gif

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Oh man, you don’t want that. It’d be ranting for 1,500 words about how Joe Reekie needs to come to practice and show Mike Green how to slide on his belly to break up odd man rushes. Here’s a good write-up on how to correctly handle that play.

    http://www.blueseatblogs.com/2013/05/10/why-defensemen-slide-on-2-on-1s/

  • Jack Conness

    Defense for sure but even those top three lines are iffy. I like all the guys but something just isn’t clicking. You guys posted (or tweeted) a picture of the productivity from Ovi’s line mates and his share of 5 vs 5 shots this year and it is astonishing. Something is missing here. I know MoJo has solid numbers this year but I just don’t know about him. I feel like he could be expendable, just because he doesn’t bring anything super special to the table. I feel like he reaps the benefits from Ovi and Backstrom.

  • Matt Root

    A proven, consistent goal scorer would be nice, as far as offensive changes I’d ideally see. Ironically, Sasha was our opponent tonight which was the last guy who fit that mold.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’ll write about it at some point, but I bet Mojo-Backy-Ovi will see goals by people without the initials A.O. if given more time.

    I really do love the top 3 lines (not tonight’s version) more than any line combo in the last couple years.

  • Freedoooom

    Don’t even blame Ovechkin. Orlov saw Hainsey coming and was overly confident on dragging it around. It was a good pass and a good reaction by Hainsey.

    Just even look at stick position, between screen shots Orlov puts his stick out wider for the drag when he could of gotten a good chance just by shooting it. Its completely Orlovs fault.

    http://i.minus.com/iyksFaBuqVfgK.png

    http://i.minus.com/ibvW6VhjJcp7Pt.png

  • JenniferH

    I said it in the last game thread, and this is what I think may be the deal regarding the goalie situation and why we’re seeing so many Grubauer starts. It’s because of Neuvirth asking for the trade. Caps need to know that Grubi can handle the NHL load should their #1 become injured and that he can be a legitimate NHL goalie and this is a good time to test it. Holtby could just be paying lip service, but his recent quotes seem to indicate that he understands what is going on with the situation, and he says that in this time off, he’s been working to better his game. Having two strong goalies is great for the team.

    As for this game, sigh. Well, honestly, I think Holts could have made those regulation saves, but :shrugs: who knows. I like the line changes, but of course, Ovi’s line, should have been the top line, agreed. I like that Oates if FINALLY making bold choices, even if I don’t agree with all of them. He does seem to see that Grabo and Fehrsie are IT though at least.

    Damn, I really would have liked this win, but I agree heartily with your last paragraph. We’re half-way through, which means we have half a season to go. The pieces are there, we’re still in 2nd place, we CAN do this. We can. We just need to get the pieces in the right place.

  • Matt Root

    I would think Holtby has the next game. Grubi has played well, but tonight he looked a bit off. A little slower than usual.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    soft– NYR could get away with 4 guys like that. Damn.

  • Ash

    Wait, Sasha was consistent? I was told he was enigmatic!

  • Jack Conness

    I agree that Backstrom and Ovi should be inseparable. Those two are like peanut butter and jelly. But I think they could move MoJo around. Grabo has to stay in Washington and I hope they can hold onto him. Fehr proves himself every night. Brouwer is also eh to me. He could be moved IMO.

  • Matt Root

    Fair. I used consistent a tad too loosely. I look at the 30-40 goal range of someone not named Ovechkin as an appealing addition to the current team. :)

  • Ash

    Nah, I got your meaning :) It just made me chortle a bit, considering all the hair rending we did over #28 and his streakiness in the past.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Welp, Oates is on your side. He said Orlov shouldn’t have pinched there, got caught up in the moment.

  • Matt Root

    And his consistent game-starting penalties :D

  • JenniferH

    It was gorgeous and he looked SOOOO young. It was just precious. I second the request!

  • Bob

    Forgive me peter, skinner puts me in a bad mood

  • Dave

    I’d say they need to split up Orlov and Green. They are both offensive defensemen and both need more solid defensive partners. They also need a time machine to stop the Erat and Perreault trades. And they need to clone about two more Grabovskis.

  • Ash

    Sasha giveth, Sasha taketh. It’s one of the comforting consistencies of hockey!

  • Dave

    Yeah, I was torn when it happened. It seemed like it could’ve been a good pass. Maybe too risky for sudden death OT though.

  • Sammy Dreamer

    I think the scouting report is out that if you get him to commit to the splits the top shelf is wide open. Senators did it 2x and Canes 2x

  • Jack Conness

    Cloning would be nice…

  • Ash

    If we could clone Alzner and switch his clone’s handedness, all our problems are over.

  • Ash

    Plus, we’d rule Movember.

  • Bugs Fire

    Ovechkin remains the key to Caps success (or lack of it). No goals in
    last three games (before today) – 0-2-1 record. Add O-goal to each of
    these and we have a regulation ties against Ducks/Sens and regulation
    win against Sabres. Say they split OT and you have 2-0-1 record over
    the same stretch. Five points with Ovie on fire and only one with Ovie
    cold.

    Same story today. Ovie had at least two high quality chances –
    penalty shot and the clean look in OT from Ovie-spot. Neither goes in
    and Caps lose winnable game.

    So, what does this team need? Well, find one extra goal difference
    by combining half a goal per game from someone other than the captain
    and half less goal allowed by better blue line. Until that happens (if
    it ever does), they will remain the Cardiac Caps. When it happens (if it ever does), they will win consistently because Alex will make them unbeatable.

  • Bugs Fire

    I felt Neuvirth will get traded ever since they extended his contract. Seriously, he gets paid more than Holtby and Grubauer combined.

  • Pat Magee

    Should try to swap wilson with T-Brouw for a hot minute. Just to see how the kid would do with some good players!

  • Bugs Fire

    I know Grubauer is good, but this is ridiculous.

  • Bugs Fire

    Good to know Oates is open to Grabo-Ovie lethal combo (equally lethal to Backy-Ovie, of course). Hey, maybe we’ll see Kuzya-Grabo-Ovie one day. All we need then is to trade rest of the team (except Orlov) for, I don’t know, Emelin, and voila! :)

  • riggorules

    The last Cap defender I want to see caught on an odd-man rush.

  • riggorules

    Ovechkin in open ice has scary speed and the most awesome shot in the world. Ovechkin on a penalty/shootout attempt has neither of those attributes. It’s all dekey-handsey slow down stuff. Go 100mph with the slap shot loaded and see how far the goalie is willing to come out. Jeez.

  • GuestZ

    Damn straight. I’m ready to buy into Peter’s rants about getting rid of the rookie. Aft least December is now over, so hopefully Holtby can stop his 4.xx GAA and .8xx save pct… hopefully.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett
  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Hey, Freedoooom, I’ll have a post up tomorrow morning about this goal. Take a look. Really would like your opinion on what I wrote.

  • kemiisto

    Nope, it is not about our defence. A good coach is a missing peace. Remember, the same defence core played much better under Hunter coaching, so Oates is obviously the person to blame, not the defence.

  • kemiisto

    And what the conclusion? The only one I can see is that such graphs are absolutely useless since I couldn’t see any correlation between shot attempts and goals.

  • kemiisto

    Well, if they want to trade Neuvy they should actually play him, not Gruby. And line changes are absolutely terrible. Now more than half of the team is playing at the wrong places. Oates is totally mad right now.

  • Jesse Morgan

    The Caps are more of a “Bring the AHL goalie in for the playoffs” type of franchise to me.

  • Myan

    NYR got away with 9 on the ice in the playoffs last year at MSG.

  • Ash

    I know. It was just too good a joke opportunity to pass up :)

  • JoeA

    The puck hit Erat. That is the only reason why it was called. If the puck bounced 8 inches to the left there would have never been a whistle. Just dumb luck on that one.

  • uh

    Maybe the Caps often score when they are about to be scored on in the next 2.5 minutes, rather than the other way around

  • Eric Schulz

    Remember scoring a goal, then trying to win 1-0 with 50 minutes left? That was Hunter. Yeah, our defense looked better than it does now, but the trade-off wasn’t worth it. Look at the team again and name TWO shutdown defensemen. We need at least one more; that’s what Forsberg should’ve been traded for; instead we added another 2nd/3rd line winger, excellent. Oh, he’s overpaid too? On this team, that’s perfect, I’d love to have no cap room.

  • Eric Schulz

    In theory I’m not a huge fan of that, but obviously Ovie needs to do something different.