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:
- 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.
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!