Photo: J Pat Carter
I forget how to recap. I don’t know what the numbers on the back of the jerseys mean, and all the players look giants playing on a snack-size rink. I forgot how to get to all the stats reports. Everything looks weird to me. I’m gonna do my best, but go easy on me.
The Washington Capitals returned from their Olympic break down in sunny Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers, mainstays of the league’s bottom-5, were supposed to be the right team to face in this first game back. The Caps pulled out an early lead, promptly blew it (as they do), and then got another one, then blew that one.
Here’s how it went.
Troy Brouwer stuck first, owning a scramble in the slot to record a power play goal. Brooks Laich followed up, finishing off a nifty pass from Alex Ovechkin to make it 2-0. Hey, look at that: a two-goal lead. Sweet. Everybody relax.
Then Tomas Fleischmann caught a pass Jesse Winchester to make it 1-0 and Brad Boyes scored from the slot early in the second to tie it up. Two-goal lead, we hardly knew ye.
Nick Backstrom scored later in the second period, a layup that even a total allergy-med junkie could have hit. Troy Brouwer got his second PPG of the night, winning another fight in the paint off of Alex Ovechkin’s rebound.
A powerplay goal by Jimmy Hayes and a clustereff clean-up by Brad Boyes midway through the third made it a tie-game– erasing the Caps’ second two-goal lead. Mike Green blew the best breakaway chance ever, but Captain Alex Ovechin scored the game-winner, his 41st, on the very next shift.
Caps beat Panthers 5-4! Oh hurrah. They beat the Panthers.
- Marcus Johansson made it back to the states in time to play on Monday, but for whatever reason he was scratched mere minutes before the puck dropped. Chalk it up to jet lag.
- Mikhail Grabovski won the game’s first faceoff in his first shift since January 24th, but he suffered another injury a few seconds later. I don’t want to talk about how much that sucks. This team is already short on secondary scoring; they positively must have Grabo healthy.
- When Martin Erat went to the box for hooking in the first period, we got a bunch of tweets and comments about what a bad player he is and how he needs to be traded right away. Both of these statements are incorrect. And while Alan May believes Erat will be dealt in order to make space for Evgeny Kuznetsov, that would make sense only if George McPhee is a disciple of the rare business axiom, Buy High, Sell Low. Marty’s value is only gonna go up. By the way, he got an assist-by-proxy on the Backstrom goal by clearing Tim Thomas out of the crease with a nice shot just before. Here’s your boy John Walton’s call of the goal:
- Heyyyy, Brooks Laich. Heyyy, Troy Brouwer. See what happens when you guys don’t play together? (Actually, Laich was on the ice for Brouwer’s powerplay goal and got the primary assist, but you get the idea.) I asked aloud earlier if Brooks Laich is on the rebound. I don’t know yet if he is, but sharing the ice with Alex Ovechkin is a great way to make it happen.
- Florida is a good hockey team in the same way “sell low” is a good business practice, but the Panthers were good enough to come back from two-goal deficits twice. Or maybe it’s just that the Caps are still really, really bad at protecting a lead. Yeah, it’s definitely that second thing. This team lacks the neck-snapping, killer instinct to SCOAR MOAR GOALS, even when they have the lead. Any pretensions about not running up the score and good sportsmanship can take a walk. This team doesn’t know how to go in a shell, so they need to keep stabbing away. Plus, that’s more fun to watch anyway.
- Also, here’s this:
- Puck-over-glass delay-of-game penalties have been all the rage since 2013. Fashion-forward Braden Holtby got into the act tonight, sending the puck saiiiiling. (p.s. How much does Christopher Cross look like pre-weight-loss Chris Pratt?)
- The following defensemen didn’t look positively awful tonight: John Carlson. That’s the end of the list.
- Alex Ovechkin rules. I could put this bullet in pretty much any game recap and it’d be just as true. When Green blew that breakaway chance, it could’ve been deflating. Instead, Ovi made it a prelude to #41. He’s the best. We should name a website after him.
- For coverage of the second tying goal by the Panthers, I’m gonna turn it over to Ian real quick:
At least Ovechkin was marking his man! pic.twitter.com/fMs5ELnEbq
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) February 28, 2014
And via AOL IM, which we still use, seriously (thanks, Ted!):
(9:46:30 PM) Ian Oland: that is such a funny photo
(9:46:35 PM) Ian Oland: everyone is laying on the ice
(9:46:55 PM) Ian Oland: Ovechkin’s playing the defense of his life
Can we just say this is like the cotton candy/”You’ve Got Mail” thing: a hockey team shaking off the metaphorical rust or figurative dust or whatever after a long break? Can we pretend this is an anomaly and not actually indicative of how this team plays?
Because I don’t think I’m capable right now of assimilating this information.
The Capitals blew a two-goal lead to the Florida freaking Panthers.
If any team can blow two two-goal leads, you gotta believe it's the Oates Caps.
— RMNB (@russianmachine) February 28, 2014
My bad, everybody.
At least there’s Ovi. Excellent, transcendent Ovi. Whatever goes wrong on this team, there’s always Ovi. Don’t anyone take Ovi away from us. Ever. I mean it.
So that’s it for February. Next comes the much-ballyhooed peril of March, starting with a Saturday brunch with the Boston Bruins.
Until the, everybody, this is Peter Hassett for RMNB saying…