Eric Fehr Ends the Freezeout! Caps beat Bolts 4-3

crombeen sad - Mike Carlson

Aw. Someone give Crombeen a hug. (Photo: Mike Carlson)

Brr. It’s cold in here. I said there must be some unwise line combinations in the atmosphere. Since the Caps’ last game, the entire continent froze. If you’re reading this in the tri-state, there’s a 37.3% chance (also Aaron Volpatti’s Corsi %) that the pipes in your house are about to burst. But the thaw has finally begun, and the Caps shook off this painfully extended metaphor with their first victory in thirteen days, a tightly wound win over the Bolts sans Stamkos.

Youngling Tyler Johnson scored on a breakaway early in the first, but the Caps struck back thricewise. First, Alex Ovechkin set up Eric Fehr for a sneaky one to beat Anders Lindback on the Caps’ second shot of the game. Then, Mikhail Grabovski tipped in Mike Green’s slot shot during the PP. And, before the period was out, Marcus Johansson stuffed a second powerplay goal.

In the second period B.J. Crombeen scored his first of the season to make it a one-goal game around the halfway mark.

The Bolts took control of the ice in the third, tying it up with a tricky deflection off the stick of Ondrej Palat. Eric Fehr did the hero thing with some English up front in the final minute of regulation.

Caps beat Bolts 4-3! 

Sean Gentille (file photo)

Sean Gentille (file photo)

  • Eric Fehr was a healthy scratch earlier this season. Now he’s on the top line, winning games. Read that any way you want as long as part of it includes this: Eric Fehr is effing awesome.
  • Marcus Johansson has been working on this one powerplay move all season. He gets the puck wide of the crease, strides laterally, and tries to stuff it in. He’s tried it a bunch but it hasn’t worked until now. Because I looked it up, here are Marcus’s five other powerplay goals this season. They’re all up close, but none of them were this particular set play. There was scoring on the rush, the “backdoor scoar,” a deflection, a fight for a rebound, and a gift of a rebound. This was his first successful stuff of the year. And it was awesome. Mojo’s turning into a different player, but now he’s gotta make it count during evens.
  • Alex Ovechkin got his second 5v5 assist of the season in the 43rd game of the year. It was actually just the third 5v5 Caps goal he was on ice for at all that he himself did not author. Great move by Eric Fehr to use the puckish Martin St Louis as a screen. The Ovi-Grabo-Fehr line is working (naturally), which is noteworthy because Adam Oates had 2/3rds of those players toiling in the bottom six and/or scratched for a while this season.
  • Mike Green: “Sweet, dude. 100 NHL goals for me!”
    Joel Ward: “No, man. That was all mine. #Ravens #Ravens #Ravens”
    Mikhail Grabovski: “Nyet!”
    Double deflection on that powerplay goal. Green had to settle for his 200th assist instead of his 100th goal. I bet he’s okay with that.
  • Here’s Troy Brouwer‘s heel-turn assist on Tyler Johnson‘s goal. I wonder if Oates will scratch him next game as punishment.

  • When Shiftchart.com has the report for this game, you’ll find a moment in the first period where the players on the ice were Philipp Grubauer, John Erskine, Connor Carrick, Aaron Volpatti, Jay Beagle, Tom Wilson, and the rookie-laden Tampa Bay Lightning. Professional hockey.
  • All kinds of defensive malaise on the B.J. Crombeen goal. John Erskine was wayyyyy behind the play and not remotely fast enough to rejoin it, Grubauer was on his heels, and Connor Carrick is like 15 years old. Alex Ovechkin got a minus on that play, so, ya know, the world is unfair.
  • Ondrej Palat put it in the net on an odd-man break (not exactly a rare PokeMon in these parts lately), but it was waved off. Apparently, you’re not allowed to hackysack the puck anymore. I’m torn, man. I didn’t wanna see the Bolts tie the game, but that was so nifty it should be allowed.
  • Who’d have thought they’d have crummy ice in Tampa Bay, Florida? The sheet was so rough following this week’s carnival, The Great Council (GMs and coaches and vassal lords and such) met on-ice before the game to determine that the teams would switch sides halfway through each period. I’m a simple man. I don’t like your push-button automobiles or your newfangled flavored vodkas and your Spock played by the guy from So NoTORIous. I can’t deal with all this switching around. Nor could the denizens of Tampa Bay Times Forum, who booed the abstract concept of fairness because Florida.
  • Philipp Grubauer, son. If your team is gonna give up a quintillion odd-man rushes (fact check: does 1-on-0 count as an odd-man rush?), it’s good to have a freak like Grubi in the net to swat (almost) all of them away. It’s unreasonable to expect a goalie to deal with those every night, so the Caps really need to tamp down.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

Were the Caps the better team tonight? I don’t know. They certainly didn’t dominate the puck possession fight (it was pretty close). For all their shot attempts, precious few (20) got through to Anders Lindback. Alex Ovechkin had more fans than a nope that joke is too easy. And for all that mildness, the Caps still exploded for a three-spot in the first period.

That was almost enough. With not nearly enough offensive pressure in the final frame, the Caps gave the Bolts a full twenty minutes to crack Grubauer. Without the infinite awesomeness of Eric Fehr, this would’ve been a sad story.

Adam Oates’ inanely reorganized lines are a fiasco, sending the bottom six into possession hell while only the Ovi line really benefited. Nick Backstrom proved his merit though, hauling Laich and Brouwer into a strong shot-attempt ratio despite the previously established Nobility of their chemistry. The fourth line is still outmatched, even moreso now that Oates has declared Aaron Volpatti better suited for a sweater than Martin Erat. Without Erat or Grabo between them, Chimera and Ward got obliterated– seeing barely a third of shot attempts go in the Caps’ favor.

The battle’s done and we kinda won so we sound our victory cheer. But where do we go from here? To a Friday night home game against the Maple Leafs and hopefully some new lines for the boys in red.

  • Bob

    i forgot what winning in regulation feels like

  • OlietheGoalie

    The speed in which you get these things out is amazing. Sometimes, JUST SOMETIMES, I wish for a last second game changer so it forces you to “AH DAMN IT” and re-write.

  • Matt

    Eric Fehr is awesome. That is all.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Grubauer was fantastic. Top 6 was very good. Bottom 6 was meh. Carrick didn’t look too out of place. ERIC FEHR I LOVE YOU.

  • Dave

    I just want to draw attention to this great comment on japer’s rink, left in the 1st period after Caps went up 3-1:

    http://www.japersrink.com/2014/1/9/5292580/capitals-lightning-game-thread#208933531

  • Jack Conness

    How many more two-goal leads can the Capitals blow? Is it coaching or lack of heart from the player? I’d love to have someone answer that for me.

    I’ve been highly critical of these line changes from Oates. I will say, I think Ovi-Grabo-Fehr look very good. I still don’t get his reasoning for Volpatti over Erat. Or Carrick over Olesky, when it should be Erskine. Or his mishandling of Holtby. Makes no sense.

    Gruby with an awesome night in net. Huge saves that the Caps needed on some ugly turnovers. Carrick looks like what he is, a rookie. And I thought Brouwer had a real ugly night.

    One real positive…they had two possessions, one in the 2nd and one in the 3rd, where they kept the puck in the offensive zone for about a minute. Awesome shifts.

  • Hockey mom

    I think I hear angels singing! Hallelujah!! But I don’t take too kindly to #61 sitting out…

  • Priscilla Villanueva

    Right now, I’m into swedes.

  • Myan

    Grubauer definitely doesn’t have groin issues. Laich must be so jealous.

  • Matt Lauer

    You know, if they’re not going to win by playing defense (cf. Hunter hockey), they might as well just go back to the pond hockey approach. At least it’s fun.

  • Matt Root

    Huzzah! Fehr saved the day!

  • Kim Peacock

    CSN with the fail of the night…

  • wholovespizza

    Fun game to watch. The top line really looked dominant. More importantly though, who starts in goal tomorrow?

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

    Who knows, but it’s rarely a good idea to put one goalie in b2bs.

  • Myan

    Was that Mike Green laying down and wiggling his legs to take away that partial 2 on 1?

  • Barrett

    No love for Mike Green’s sliding shot block in the third? He is starting to heat up offensively. Im ready to see him back on the #1 PP unit. Grubauer played a great game and made the saves Holtby couldnt last game. How about some abuse to Carlson for getting bailed out on that horrible 2v1 by Grubauer…you know, the same ish everyone blasted Mike Green for last week?

  • wholovespizza

    So that probably means Oates is going to do that? Haha. I’m hoping Holtby gets the start, and plays solid. It’d be huge for him..and the team.

  • Gersh21

    I had to miss the GWG so I could butcher the Jeopardy contestant test. Maybe if the game wasn’t tied when I started I would have done better.

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

    What is disappointment?

  • Ash

    C’mon, I was waiting for it. BAILAMOS?

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

    Letting a tight game get away from em a bit in the third.

  • Nicole Lippy

    I’m loving the Fehr-Grabo-Ovi line, but I feel so conflicted seeing Backstrom away from Ovechkin. Also I’m pretty sure Grubauer is Gumby.

  • Myan

    We’ve allowed at least 3 odd man rush goals this year because Greenie doesn’t lay down to take away the pass. Even if the puck carrier shoots the puck, by laying down you let your goalie focus on the shot instead of worrying about 2 areas of the ice the shot can come in from.

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

    dude, add em in comments if you wanna dance!

  • Barrett

    Carrick over Oleksy because the are both right handed shots (Big Johnny is a lefty) and Oates isn’t taking Carlson or Green out because of his lefty and righty defense pairing OCD.

  • Chip

    *knocks on wood*

  • Dave

    Whatever the hell Oates’s system is, I’m pretty sure Grabo is perfect for it. Putting Laich and Brouwer back together seemed kinda silly, especially up top.

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

    Couldn’t agree more. Even bad teams get big fanbases by playing fun hockey (and losing)

  • Jack Conness

    Very true. Green did a great job on that slide. He has looked better as of late.

  • Barrett

    I thought Laich had a good game with Backstrom. Troy Brouwer was awful. I hope GMGM makes some moves for someone to fix that bottom six. Need a gritty center for that 3rd line and Matt Hendricks (bring home the wagon!!) for that 4th line winger and shoot out maistro.

  • Nicole Lippy

    Yeah, wherever Grabo goes in the lineup good things seem to follow. It is rather odd, I never understood the confidence Oates has in Brouwer and Laich on a line together, they just drag each other down. Together they never put up numbers to even justify the second line minutes they were getting before. No reason they should be on top.

  • Barrett

    You also take yourself out of the play entirely if you slide, the shot gets through and there’s a rebound. If your team is responsible defensively you can risk that knowing your forwards are back-checking. I have no problem with the way Green played (not his fault Ovechkin and Orlov hung him out to dry) the 3v1 that lost the game last week. It’s a 3v1 and the offense should score regardless.The comment was made because Carlson did the exact same thing, but Grubauer bailed him out where Holtby looked lost when Green was on the ice. Still waiting for everyone to jump on the “trade Carlson” bandwagon because of a handful of bad plays.

  • Myan

    The idea is that if your goalie is ready for the shot there isn’t a rebound or if there is, it’s in a low percentage shooting area. Ovi and Orlov hung us out to dry last game but Green could have 99.9% stopped that pass if he’d laid on his stomach. The forward held onto the puck for far too long. He was nearly at the goal line when he made that pass across. Lay down and force him to shoot that puck – it’s a low percentage shot.

  • Bob

    nothing impresses me more than a peter hassett gif choice, a nicklas backstrom sauce pass is a close second

  • Ben Reed

    Only 4th line and Carlzner were below 60% fenwick close. So, yay that!

  • Myan

    Also, Carlson didn’t lay down because he’s facing the same direction as the forwards. If he lays down, his momentum is going to push him in the same direction that the forwards are going but he’ll be moving at a slower pace. Mike Green was facing the forward so if he laid on his belly, his momentum would push him against the direction the forwards are moving and close the passing lane faster.

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

    We are both masters at our chosen crafts

  • Diller M

    Im not a fan of Erat and I really wanna like Oates so we can have the coaching thing stable for a while, but it’s almost like he is trying to prove he knows better then everyone else with his decisions that go against every bit of common hockey sense. I’m starting to loose faith in Oates officially. But at least we didn’t have to loose to a team that doesn’t really understand the whole thunder lightning relationship. #bethethunder indeed, more like #bethehighpressuremeetsthelowpressurecausingabuildupofnegativeelectricchargewhichdischargestowardthepositivlychargedground

  • Ian Hopper

    Old “brittle groin” Green must look at Grubi like he’s an alien jelly.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Hoping for that too. OTOH, I’m not starting Holtby in my fantasy team so tells you how much confidence in his starting I have right now (or more to the point, the team around him right now).

  • Super43

    So much yes, I have been saying this all season. Carlson makes the same boneheaded mistakes on D as Green but just somehow seems to get bailed out 90% of the time. Also, Green needs to be back on the #1 PP, if nothing else it will reduce Carlson’s TOI and he will be more fresh for the PK, which has fallen down a few pegs as the season has gone on.

  • CapsFan

    Love the Bring It On reference!!

  • Super43

    Part of me hopes that the players listen to Bailamos in the locker room after wins, just like they listened to ‘beat dat beat’ after wins in the ’10-’11 season….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibW9bJOceo4

  • Super43

    Sidebar, I miss all the Matt’s in this video… Matty P, Matt Hendricks, and Matt Bradley…

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

    Depending on your philosophy on the franchise, this moment marked the beginning of the Caps decline. Celebrating a crappy win using the crappy trap just because shooting percentages weren’t going well in the previous two weeks.

  • GuestZ

    Carrick looked RIDICULOUSLY out of place. Very annoyed Peter left this point out of the write-up, cause that was horrible. Why do you pair the rookie (with no idea how to not stare down the next target of his pass… oh so bad) with the slow Erskine? IT MAKES NO SENSE. CALLIJO gotta GO!

  • GuestZ

    Carrick was horrible, let alone his being paired with #4. Brouwer had an assist on their first goal. Laich and Brouwer together again, and the only thing keeping them from drifting off into a new dead star was Nicky between them.

    New line: CalliJo Gotta Go! I swear he will be Oates undoing. Oates does offense, so we need an assistant for the defense that actually knows what the hell they’re doing.

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

    “…and Connor Carrick is like 15 years old”

    ahem.

    Nice kid, but lots of growing to do. Hopefully some of it will be literal height growing.

  • Chris Cerullo

    The kid is 19. He was a -1 but had nothing to do with the Crombeen goal. That goal was a combo of a bad bounce, Erskine being slow as molasses and a semi-decent shot that beat Grubauer shortside. As long as he is not directly causing losses and at least contributing somewhat with his passing ability which he did do at some points last night I’m fine with him. Should he be up over someone like Schmidt? Probably not but give the kid some credit here.

  • Super43

    Oh I agree, this stretch was the beginning of the end. Following the President’s trophy, and first round exit to the Montreal Canadiens(damn!) the powers that be saw Bruce and that style of play as unsustainable, and ultimately not what would help them win in the spring. I miss the Caps circa 2007-2010, they were never out of any game.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I’ve always liked how Mojo has played when he’s put in the middle. Although this also negatively affects Backstrom because it means he’s paired with the black hole brothers. Which got me thinking that I’d love to add someone like a Radim Vrbata or a Mike Cammalleri as well as obviously potentially addressing that minor problem on the backend.

  • shiftchart

    The “Professional hockey” shift alluded to from the 1st period..

  • dills

    Grubs will start. #bank

  • Pat Magee

    Seriously gotta get Schmidt back up there…. He’s 3 billion times better and more mobile than Erskine.

  • Eric Schulz

    We aren’t over-reacting to a handful of bad plays. Carlson is a good player, we aren’t stupid enough to think he needs to be traded if he makes one mistake. The problem with Green is that he makes one mistake… ALL THE TIME. It’s almost like he’s made more than a handful. Listen, I’m a Caps fan, I love when Green gets it going, and I realize he has tons of skill, but it’s frustrating when he makes these boneheaded defensive lapses.
    Also, he didn’t do anything, while all he had to do was lay down and take away the pass. If he does that, those 2 guys in front of the net don’t have the puck, so they aren’t really dangerous, and the man with the puck (Murphy) is goal-line extended. If the goalie allows that to deflect off of him and in, you don’t blame Green. It’s totally fair to blame Green for turning a 3-on-1 into a 3-on-0 though (by doing nothing). It’s not that laying down would’ve made the play 100% impossible for Murphy to make, it’s that it would make it HARDER, which is the point. Your job is to always make it as hard as possible for the other team to score. He fails to do that way too often.

  • Rod

    Great news :)

    Regards

    Rod

    http://www.titan-industrial.com/