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:

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

Joe B suit of the night is back!

Joe B suit of the night is back!

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. 


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…

  • Freedoooom


  • Jack Conness

    Ugly, ugly game. No real surprise though. All hail Alex Ovechkin for being the savior once again. I didn’t take much from this game except these guys look like the same ol’ Caps. Dumb mistakes and dumb penalties. I don’t know if that will ever change…

  • William

    YAY Happy yay happy yay happy

  • Chris Cerullo

    Looking sloppy against the Florida Panthers = not a good sign. I have a hard time celebrating wins like this. Erskine-Carrick is still awful, nothing has changed there. Orlov had a rough night and I dont even want to talk about Mike Green. That was Tikkanen-esque. Thank the lord Laich and Brouwer are seemingly turning it on. We’d be nowhere without Ovechkin.

  • Roman Z.

    I’m happy we got 2 points, but what an embarrassing game! Great discipline Caps, even better stick handling Holtby…

  • Rob W.

    So nice to see the horrific caps defense again after the 2 week break. Also nice to see Oates still thinks its smart to put Erksine/Carrick on the PK. Not really looking forward to March after struggling against the panthers. 1st star of the game should go to Julianne Hough for obvious reasons

  • Steve

    Looks like that “groin problem” might have just been blue balls. Great game, Broosky!!!

  • Ben

    I think part of the reason Carlson was the only defensemen who looked good was that he was playing with the best in the world over the break.

  • rapmadrob

    The Caps learned 2 valuable lessons tonight: Lesson 1- It’s not over till it’s over. Lesson B- An hour later, it’s still not over till it’s over.

  • Myan

    Is it just me or does it seem like we play like crap whenever Erskine is in the line up?

  • Graham Dumas

    Ahhh, come on. You try stick-handling with a goalie paddle. Actually, come to think of it, maybe BH needs some practice, too.

  • Justin

    He really does look like a step behind at all times, doesn’t inspire too much confidence. I’m wondering why the management keeps icing him.

  • Rob W.

    Its not you its a proven thing

  • Roman Z.

    Why stick handle at all? That was 100% unnecessary. It’s idiotic decisions like that always get us into deep doodoo.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Don’t ask me why I know this but I actually think she’s a virgin.

  • Okay, that might be the funniest recap of the year. And yes! WE STILL USE AIM. DEAL WITH IT.

  • Roman Z.

    One cannot be a virgin in Hollywood. It’s science.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Don’t be ashamed so do I. For fantasy hockey/baseball keepers. My solid 5th grade username “sportsmaniac7474”.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I would link an article. Not saying I believe it but she’s said it.

  • Virginity is a social construct like race and professional wrestling

  • Heidi

    Hmm I don’t remember Dora being in Finding Nemo

  • Chris Cerullo

    I never thought I would have this discussion on RMNB lol

  • Freedoooom

    Yeah, no such thing as anthropology. You can tell its fake, because the word sounds so fake.


  • just look at the roots of it

    ANT – what like people are ants? that’s dumb
    HRO – that’s not even a word, try harder
    POLOGY – yeah you better be sorry

  • JenniferH

    2 points. Great recap. That’s what I’m holding onto.

  • Marky Narc


  • VeggieTart

    It’s not you. Send Carrick back to Hershey, give Erskine permanent time in the press box, and bring up Brouillette and Wey.

  • Graham Dumas

    Well, if you can do it, you’re a little like a third d man out there. It’s just tricky to do. I think the real question is, do the rewards balance out the risks?

  • Stephen Chastain

    The Caps aren’t bad at winning, ,they’re REALLY good at losing. When other teams make miracle comebacks, the Caps put it into high gear to really try to spectacularly lose. Good thing they screwed up and won tonight instead.

  • Alex Hughes

    Disappointed that John Erskine played tonight. Still don’t know what Oates sees in him besides “physical presence”. Should have played Broulette.

  • Hockey mom

    The magic phone was telling me that Brooks was due!

  • Eric Schulz

    “that would make sense only if George McPhee is a disciple of the rare business axiom, Buy High, Sell Low”
    What makes you think he isn’t? Because based on what I’ve seen, he is.

  • Hydrogen_Taco

    can we talk about the biggest problem for the past 6 years NO D!!! GMGM you done great on forwards but you are terrible at D. We are sick of this. stop blaming the goal tender and spend the money to make a COMPLETE team!

  • dylan wheatley


  • Just curious, important for whom?

    Do you think Burkie would pry McPhee from here? Dc is a general manager’s paradise, he’ll never leave or be fired.

  • SleepyAlligator

    I just wanna say that the boys play better when they shoot before thinking and don’t try to make that extra play before the shot. Brooks did the right thing by taking the one-timer. I feel that too many times the boys hesitate and look for some other play.
    On the other hand, I think we still need to take some time to convert a good breakout from our defensive zone. Here we need some patience to make a good pass, instead of trying to force a bad one. Way too many turnovers on our breakouts this year.
    Just my two cents…

  • Owen Johnson

    Not only that, but he and Carrick got time. Together. ON THE PENALTY KILL!!!

  • Owen Johnson

    Eh, everybody looked rusty. Holtby no exception.

  • Owen Johnson

    I’m not reading too much into this game. I think the team needs to shake off the Olympic break rust.

  • Adam Schwager

    While I love the photo of Ovi marking his man, it’s so misleading. Just watched the replay Ovi doesn’t even touch him until the goal was already scored. All he did was come at him a swipe his stick one in his direction.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I resemble that statement! (anthropologist)

  • Shaun Phillips

    Bring back Binky!

  • Myan

    I don’t think Carrick is so much the problem…it really seems like ANYONE who plays with Erskine as their D partner is destined to have a bad game. Remember how bad Carlson & Green were when they were paired up with Ersk? As a defenseman, it’s tough to get focused and get into a rhythm when your partner gets beaten to every puck, has to take an extra 2-3 touches to control a pass, and is generally prone to serious defensive errors.

  • Carrick with Erskine: 50% shot attempts
    Carrick without Erskine: 43% shot attempts

  • Myan

    Damn you Peter and your fancystats!

  • VeggieTart

    And he doesn’t really have much in the way of physical presence anymore.

  • maddyjl

    On the okay side (and by okay I mean ignore the awful defense for a minute), can we talk about the fact that half the reason we scored so many goals tonight is because WE FINALLY ATTACKED THE REBOUNDS WHICH IS A RARITY BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON WE NEVER EVER HAVE A GUY ON POST EVER ESPECIALLY WHEN THE REBOUNDS ARE JUICY AND RIPE FOR THE SCOARING
    Can we please talk about the importance of the usually nonexistent guy on post like pls just for a hot second….

  • maddyjl

    I mean in all seriousness, I could be wrong and please correct me if I am, I’m no analyst or expert and fairly new, relatively speaking (6 years), as a fan, but it just seems like our scoring chances would probably quadruple if we always had a guy on post to nab the rebounds.

  • Chris Cerullo

    After saying they were raring to go at practice all week? Lol I don’t buy that at all. It’d be different if this looked like a different team from the first 3/4 off the season but it didn’t.