Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, which means the Washington Capitals once again played a matinee game to set the stage for a whole lot of couch-sitting  by you all day. You’re gonna go through a lot of wings, chips, pretzels, assorted other fried things, and bad beer on your way to gridiron glory and hypertension. I shall join you, but not before we revisit the real big game: the Detroit Red Wings at Caps. With a national audience, two (or three) crucial standings points on the line, and a triad of Caps scratched to injury, this was a big one.

Jason Chimera got rewarded for some hard work in the opening minutes, recording the game’s first goal five minutes in.  Joel Ward caught a great pass from Nick Backstrom to score a powerplay goal and make it 2-0. The momentum shifted as the Wings got the puck more, resulting in a powerplay goal by Gustav Nyquist, but the Caps struck back with another PP marker– this time from John Carlson.

Tomas Tatar got a sneaky shot under Neuvirth’s shoulder to make it 3-2, but Joel Ward struck back nineteen seconds later. A two-handed slash (a greatslash?) by Troy Brouwer gave the Wings a power play and Nyquist’s second goal of the game.

Nyquist got the hat trick early in the third, obliterating the Caps’ lead, but Troy Brouwer crashed the net and created a new lead following a Wings turnover. That one didn’t last either. Justin Abdelkader was all up in the paint to score after a faceoff in the Caps zone. Into overtime we went.

Or shall we say… OVI TIME!?!?!

Caps beat Wings 6-5 (OT).

  • The Capitals started this game better than they have all season: extended shifts in the offensive zone, a flurry of shots, depriving Detroit of possession by owning the puck forever. That led to two goals and a heckuva lot of enthusiasm from Caps fans. Things changed, as they have a wont to do, after that. The Wings began cycling and drawing penalties (although Volpatti’s hold happened 189 feet from the Caps net). The possession advantage disintegrated. The Caps have been simply fantastic at blowing two-goal leads this season.
  • Joel Ward and Jason Chimera have well-earned reputations for hard work and good attitudes. Both were absolutely crucial to this game– both with Chimera’s tough grinding and Joel Ward’s refusal to slink after the Tatar goal. That was Ward’s first multi-goal game since his hat trick on November 1st. Chimera had an assist on both Ward goals.
  • Aaron Volpatti suffered an apparent shoulder injury and did not return to the ice after the start of the second period. No cheap shots here: hope it’s not serious.
  • Michal Neuvirth didn’t see a lot of work in the first period, but made some exemplary saves early in the second. The team in front of him didn’t do a particularly sterling job of restricting quality shots once the Wings actually started shooting. With only four appearances last month (and none in December), this was a decent showing for Neuvy– badly needed. It’s hard to applaud for a five-goals-against game, but the Wings had enough nasty chances that an 9-goal drubbing was totally possible. Neuvy didn’t allow that.
  • Alex Ovechkin had a fully open net waiting for him in the closing minute of the first period. Waiting in the Ovi spot (actually closer to the net than usual), Ovi released for a sure-thing goal– except this one time. Shank city. With his game-tying goal from Friday now credited to Joel Ward, that stunk. The goal would’ve helped a lot today, mostly for my blood pressure. Ovi showed up later though.
  • Gord Miller is a great play-by-play guy, but his suit game sucked, and Joe B used to be awesome at national broadcasts on Versus.
  • I didn’t even know the Caps were allowed to score right after the opponent does. Joel Ward‘s strike back following Tatar’s softie was huge– proving that the Caps don’t always have to collapse like a folding chair when their lead gets challenged.
  • John Erskine was on the ice for Nyquist’s second and third goals– playing wretched defense for both. He’s just not cut out for this anymore, and I’ve exhausted my ability to be surprised by his ineptitude or the team’s willingness to suit him up.
  • One of my things to watch in the weekly snapshot was Dmitry Orlov, who missed his partner Mike Green. Orlov was pretty awful– turning over the puck and not driving possession– but he did draw a pair of penalties. Mixed bag, but definitely in the red.
  • Marty Erat didn’t get credit for it, but his work forechecking to force a turnover and set up Troy Brouwer’s go-ahead goal was splendid. We shouldn’t be surprised. Erat rules.
  • Ovi got shadowed effectively by Detroit during the power pay. He has had a solution to this before, but he didn’t bust it out today. In the past, Ovi would skate low to high and high to low to shake his shadow– hoping for a pass while he skated in. Today he just sorta stood there. The 4-on-3 in overtime worked out somewhat better.
  • With the game tied and the stakes high, the Capitals got totally outplayed by the Wings in the third period, erasing Washington’s possession advantage. It’s the sort of thing you’d call unacceptable, but here we are: accepting it.

What did you expect? Half of the Caps defensive corps is straight out of the AHL, and then there’s John Erskine. The Caps could be electric in the offensive zone– even without Grabo– but they’ve still got a find a way to bone up on D. Until that happens, no Caps lead is safe.

And even if George McPhee can fix the defensive roster, that’s still no guarantee. Adam Oates’ system seems to prefer safe play once his team takes the lead. Safe is still dead, and Oates’ Caps are both.

That’s why we should be eternally grateful for Alex Ovechkin, overtime stud and league leader in badassdom. Even when the team is struggling, he’ll keep being Ovi.

I’m glad the national audience loved this game, but I’m exhausted. This team has a lot of great ingredients– enough for a spicy stew– but they’re not quite there yet. I haven’t seen anything  telling me the Caps are interested in solving it. In fact…

That is worrying. Surely you can find some games that goaltending lost– especially in December and early January– but in October and November, the Capitals’ goaltending saved a desperately weak team from blowing the season before it even got started. Overall, I’d say it’s a wash. Then again, I’m a little dubious about this quote hearsay overall.

The Caps need defense, and also some kind of magic rock that makes the team always play like they did for those first five minutes. Scoar moar goals isn’t just a slogan; it’s an affirmation of the only way to win this silly game.

Enjoy the superb owl, everybody! RIP PSH.

(That was 30 seconds before the OTGWG)

  • Super43
  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    LET’S DANCE!

  • Jack Conness

    Can this please be the turning point of the season, PLEASE!? What a game. Awful defense but IMO, the most exciting and most aggressive and passionate game all season. How about Marty Erat on that 1st line? He looked awesome with Ovi and Backstrom. He better stay with those guys the rest of the season. I thought he is the man of the game. GREAT WIN AND GO CAPS!

  • dylan wheatley

    hahah i bet mcphee is going to trade for miller. i like gmgm but if he does this im done with him.

  • Jack Conness

    The broadcasters mentioned GMGM thought goaltending has been the problem this season. Kill me now…

  • Chris Cerullo

    Ovie is just ridiculous. Shouldn’t have gotten to this point but with the Caps it was inevitable. I don’t want to comment on our defense because we won and I want to be happy. Neuvy kept us in it till the end. Shout out to Erat for a very nice game.

  • Rob W.

    Someone send some game film of Erskine to GMGM since he thinks goaltending is the issue. Seriously every game theres 1 defensemen that just plays terrible. HUGE 2 points but we need to win the next 3 games in order to put ourselves in a good situation.

  • Chris Cerullo

    His play on the 3rd Nyquist goal was laughable.

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    WOOHOO!!!!! FUCKING RIGHTS!!!

  • MuzzMuzzington

    So GMGM told the announcers that “With better goaltending we could have 10 more points on the season.”

    I guess we could have 30 more with decent defense.

  • guest

    That back post goal by Nyquist was on Fehr… he was puck watching and right next to him, yet didn’t even think to lift his stick. Erskine wasn’t to blame for that one, at least not as much as Fehr.

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Move over Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, Alexander The Great has the long-bomb for the Touchdown! 6-5 Washington…now back to the grind…super bowl party, PBR and begging for girls to come to our sausagefest :)

  • MuzzMuzzington

    What a concept, a top line talent getting top line minutes on the top line getting chemistry with the top line players and looking like a top line player.

  • Joe

    That McPhee quote is absolutely infuriating

  • Jack Conness

    I know, right? Mind blowing.

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

    Before Ovi did his thing, the title of this recap was “Super Bowl Solicitude.” The chart kind of explains why.

  • CM

    Unrelated to almost anything, I was expecting Doc and Edzo and didn’t get them. That alone made today a good day.

  • Jimmie

    My comment after the third Nyquist goal:

    Pretty sure a Weeping Angel would have played better D than Erskine did on the last two Wings goals. #Caps

  • Alex Hughes

    I don’t think John Erskine would even be a good defensemen in the ECHL. He is a terrible puck-handler and is slower than Jeff Schultz (which is very hard to do). I still don’t know what Oates sees him besides his physical presence but Nate Schmidt would be such a better fit for this team. Great to get two points and where would this team be without Ovi. I’m liking how Erat is playing lately but God just doesn’t want him to score.

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

    Haha

  • Steve Killmon

    Ovi’s OTGWG: So good, it scored twice.

  • James Desautels

    Dudes and friends-reading GMs quote regarding goaltending costing us points I am the sads because I know this means we are only days away from a patented GM extremis move like Miller for Barber/Wilson/Neuvy/Leonsis firstborn/and the next 3 #1s.

    Now on to this game-a tasty appetizer before we load up on football and funny beer commercials, and hopefully a nice trailer for the next XMen movie. For us Caps fans, a mixed bag of great net crashing and supporting role scoring, and also some continued subpar ‘defenseman’ play from pretty much everyone. The astonishing tales of Erskine continue to grow in the wrong direction. This dude is aging fast. Each game he gets slightly more stuck in concrete, fumbles a few more easy pinches, and looks generally lost behind his own net. He corrals the puck and then just banks it back into the glass everytime, no looking for open breakouts, and def no wheeling. He isnt clearing the crease well either. I digress, as all our problems arent all on Big John, its systemic.

    Bottom line, I echo our esteemed bloggers opinion that without the superhero costumed as our captain, we would probably be several games below .500 and probably long out of this race. He has singlehandedly snatched victory from the hands of terrible defeat several times this year. Which leads to my final point I put to the group-is our best shot an incendiary Ovi going to Sochi and tearing through on his way to a gold, which costs us Team USA supporters our glory, yet Ovi returns on an even higher level determined to catapult us to a Cup?

  • Chris Cerullo

    This chart shows how we are definitely improving possession-wise and in the O-zone but the fact that our defense just collapses with any amount of little pressure on every single solid scoring chance is going to keep holding us back.

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

    I really thought Erat would score this time.

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

    Interesting thought. Maybe I’ll see how the Caps’ shots for and shots against have changed during the season. I get the vibe they’re shooting more at least.

  • James Desautels

    Ersk wouldnt be top 4 in a mens A league right now. Im only mildly kidding right now. But really.

  • Steve Killmon

    By the time the third period started, I would’ve taken that to #thebank myself. He was flying.

    Also, not enough love for Beagle. That dude has stepped into Matt Hendricks territory with his work-ethic.

  • Jonah

    its almost as if he was supposed to be there THE WHOLE DAMN TIME!!!
    also the only credible color commentary that NBC had this whole game was that erst can’t buy a goal this year.

  • prut

    Erskine is not the problem. The guy who persistently gives him a sweater is. Fire Oates

  • Jonah

    “erat just can’t buy a goal this year” was the only accurate NBC quote about the capitals since about 1480

  • Barrett

    I think this was the best game all year from Erat, Beagle, Ward and Chimera. John Carlson was terrible defensively. Oates needs to figure out the PP when they shadow Ovechkin. Great game from Neuvirth, only one goal (from Tatar) was on him.

  • Barrett

    Erskine played better defense this game than John Carlson.

  • Rob W.

    I immediately became frightened that the Miller rumors would become true and that GMGM will be giving up an entire roster of players to get him

  • Graham Dumas

    That is the dumbest, most asinine, inept, wretched, idiotic, myopic, nonsensical, pig-headed, nimrodic, moronic, охреневший quote I have ever heard in my somewhat short life. #FUGMGM!

  • Diller M

    Erskine is horrifying and nobody outside of RMNB and their faithful seems to notice. Erat seemed to be energized on the top line. MOJO needs to learn that to scoar you must SHOOT especially when nobody covers you on the PP. without Ovi is team would be challenging the record for wretchedness. Good win, no shoot out, go Broncos, avenge my Niners. I’m out.

  • Jack Conness

    He looked awesome. It will come soon enough. Just gotta keep him on that 1st line.

  • Diller M

    This Mike Green situation has a LOT riding on it. If he goes to LTIR the money for a Miller move works and you can take it to the bank that lame duck McPhee will pull the trigger.

  • Diller M

    He’s gotta shoot to scoar and those weak backhands won’t do it.

  • Diller M

    Totally agree on Sochi, we need Ovi to bring home a gold so he stays on a high.

  • Jack Conness

    I don’t think they have to figure it out at all. I don’t mind when they shadow Ovi. Of course I love seeing him scoring but when they take him away, it is a 4-3. The Caps do just fine when he is shadowed.

  • Jake Ettawakapow
  • Jake Ettawakapow

    Caps have so many options on the power play.
    Backstrom->Johansson->Ovechkin/Brouwer/Ward.
    Backstrom->Johansson->Backstrom->Brouwer/Ward
    Backstrom->Carlson->Ovechkin
    Backstrom->(Backhand saucer) And Carlson could just rip it.
    Obviously Backstrom makes our power play work.
    Remember when we were 1st in the league in the power play unit? Yeah. Goodtimes.

  • Shaun Phillips

    We heard and thought the same thing. Scary part is this means any of the goalies may be moved. Congrats to the Caps today.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Wings will trade you Quincey for him. :P

  • Shaun Phillips

    He would’ve had one there in the 3rd if the other Caps player/Wings dman hadn’t crashed the net.

  • factoryofsadness

    I WANT OLEKSY NOW DAMMIT

  • salgotnv

    Nah, first they gotta sell through all those Holtby lunchboxes

  • Matt Root

    The Maiden fan in me disagrees

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBsMmKek6-4

  • JenniferH

    I really, really want one. But I don’t live anywhere near Washington. :(

  • JenniferH

    Me too.

  • JenniferH

    I loved that we won. I loved Wardo, Chimmy, Neuvy (mostly) played great again. Ovi! Woohoo! Brouwer scored! So yay. But I gotta say I was stewing throughout the whole game from that GMGM quote on. He’s so gonna try and get Miller and either Holtby’s gonna be traded along with Neuvy no doubt (who’s requested it) or Holts will be a back-up and I’ll rarely see him. And both options break my heart (the former because I don’t want to see him in another uniform). Goaltending is so not this team’s problem and that GMGM does not see that and would throw the goaltenders under the bus like this… gah.

    I just feel so much for Holtby and Neuvy and Grubi. But, yes, especially Holts who stood on his head time and time again for this team the first half of the season and kept them in it and rarely got the credit for it. Then got pulled and benched and his technique and confidence ripped apart because of boneheaded defense issues, hot goalie streaks, goalie coaching, and crazy head coach 3-headed goalie decision-making. But, yeah, GMGM let’s publicly blame the goaltending for the position the Caps are in right now.

    But, we got two points. I’m happy about that. I’m just very, very afraid about what that GMGM quote means for the future of Holtby and this team because while I do love the Caps and many players on it, yes, Holts is my favorite. He’s why I was intrigued enough and decided to stick with watching Hockey. I have the sads now. I will not lie.

  • Pat Magee

    “If you knew anything about the game, you’d be In it.” ~ McPhee.

    His continuing employment is proof that his quote is wrong.

  • Myan

    Neuvy had such a sporadic game. He definitely made some unbelievable saves but also let in a couple that he should have had. It’s obvious that we have unstable goal tending right now and I really wish that he or Holts would step up and seize the opportunity to secure themselves as the number one.

  • Heidi

    If you sign up for the kids club and say that you live out of state and won’t be able to pick it up they will mail it to you.

  • Rhino40

    Totally agree, Peter. I was actually praying for him to scoar in the shootout on Friday. “Snake-bit” doesn’t begin to cover it–the man just works far too hard for a puck not to find its way from his stick to the net…SOMEHOW

  • Rhino40

    I like this idea…I also like the idea of trying Wilson on the top line.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    I thoroughly embarrassed my wife once by buying kids movie tickets online. The manager at the ticket collecting line called me out and I was forced to show my ID that showed I was actually in my later twenties… With a semi-beard.

    It’s not my fault hey charge 10+ bucks for a ticket in the DC Metro area.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Take Erat to #thething should become a bank.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Did I mention the top line?

  • MuzzMuzzington

    I would like to see Backsy and Mojo shoot a little faster when there is absolutely no pressure being shifted their way.

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    Love that one too.

  • Shaun Phillips

    While I agree the Caps have been improving, the Wings have been HORRIBLE in the defensive zone this year. We have 2 big d-men that play like they weigh 20-30 lbs less (Ericsson and Quincey). Also not enough size up along the wings to disrupt cycles like the Caps got into. That being said, I thought the Caps deserved this game. Other than Nyquist and Zetterberg, no one showed up for the Wings.

  • JenniferH

    My sister said she tried to do that for me as a surprise but they wouldn’t do it out of state. (I live in Georgia.)

  • Langway

    I’ve come to learn after all these years of following the Caps that any quotes from McPhee should be treated as rumors and hearsay — he’s full of surprises and never shows his cards. Any moves he makes are usually a bit unexpected in one way or another, good or bad. Don’t lose any sleep over it until something actually happens. When that time comes we’ll either jump for joy, cry on each other’s shoulders, or most likely shake our heads and say, “What the…?”
    Secondly, even if your favorite player on this team should be moved please don’t lose heart. Keep cheering for the Caps. We need fans like you. Your posts are refreshingly optimistic and we’d miss you on this site.

  • JenniferH

    Thank you very much.

    I have been reading other people say (at Japer’s Rink) that GMGM tends to go for the smokescreen so I shouldn’t assume the worst.

    Even if (pleasedon’tpleasedon’tpleasedon’t) Holts does get traded, I won’t give up or walk away from the Caps, I’ll just have two teams to watch. He is my favorite, but I also love Ovi and Wardo and Chimmy, Backsie, Greenie, Grabo and, well, the Capitals. I do consider myself a Caps fan. I’m not going to just walk away. But thank you for your kind words, I do appreciate them.

  • Heidi

    Jennifer, send me an email hehaf1490@aim.com. I may be able to help you out.

  • salgotnv

    I’ll sign up for kids club since I’m basically an adult child, you pick up another goalie lunch box near you, then we make the trade

  • Chris Cerullo

    I would take Ericsson and Quincey every single day in our bottom pair

  • Shaun Phillips

    As a bottom pair, sure. Unfortunately, they’re our #2 and #4 dmen, alongside Kronwall and Dekeyser (Soze!). We’ve got some young dmen in Grand Rapids that should replace Quincey in the next year or two.

  • JenniferH

    Aww, that’s sweet, but I live in Georgia, we don’t have any Hockey teams. No goalie anything around here. :(

  • JenniferH

    Thank you. :)