Photo: Evan Vucci
I hate St. Patrick’s Day. My family is Irish as Feakle and I like Irish writing and the Corrs and stuff, but I hate leprechauns and boiled potatoes and corned beef. I was really hoping Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs would be a short reprieve from the holiday and a happy kickoff to a huge week on the road for a Caps team barely holding on to playoff hopes. While we got a fantastic first period out of the home team, the rest of the game was a little dreary. Like Ireland.
The Caps came out literally on fire. Troy Brouwer got his 19th of the year from right up front. Jason Chimera kicked in yet another goal for his line with Fehr and Ward. And then Ward nailed a layup set up by Kuzya and Penner. The Leafs got one before the period was up– a lucky bounce into the slot and onto Troy Bodie’s stick– but it was a dominant twenty minutes for the home team.
The second was the opposite. Dion Phaneuf released a long bomb that snuck through the top line and Orlov-Carrick pairing. Then the Leafs got three consecutive power plays that the Caps desperately killed off.
The Caps survived the third and shut down the Leafs’ comeback attempt when Jason Chimera drew a penalty on a breakaway. Troy Brouwer got the empty netter.
Caps beat Leafs 4-2!
- What the heck happened during the first intermission? The Caps outshot the Leafs 14-2 in the first period. The Leafs outshot the Caps 20-6 in the second period. We talked about this in the snapshot, but the way the Capitals play with a lead is infuriating. Instead, the Caps gotta play like what Jason Chimera told Al Koken during the second intermission: “pedal to the metal.”
- Dion Phaneuf threaded the needle in the second period (against the team’s worst defensive players), but other than that he was hot Torontonian garbage. Reportedly playing with the flu, Phaneuf did nothing to stop the Caps’ first two goals, then he committed the penalty that led to the third.
- Brooks Laich was a late scratch. The groin thing is flaring up again, I guess. Poor guy.
- Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward both broke the twenty goal threshold. Ian has to wear spandex and join the Brouwer Rangers now. This is why you shouldn’t gamble, kids.
- I love Nick Backstrom letting Brouwer’s ENG slide in at the end without touching it. Gentlemanly move from the raving allergy-medicine addict.
- I also love what the Chimera-Fehr-Ward line is doing (i.e. scoaring a lot), but here’s the thing: they’re getting outshot like crazy. Together since the Olympic break, they’ve outshot the competition just once (March 10 vs the Penguins). I like those players for the most part, but I don’t like them together. I particularly don’t like Eric Fehr taking so many faceoffs, but I guess that’s more of an injury/roster problem than anything else.
- Dustin Penner started the game as a fourth liner. Then he set up Joel Ward with one of the best passes I’ve seen (since Kuzya’s slap pass to Wilson last game). By the end of the second period, Adam Oates did the random number generator thing again, putting D.P. with Backstrom and Johansson on what I guess was the first line. That lasted for all of two shifts. Line craziness of Boudreau proportions!
- Alex Ovechkin didn’t get a puck on net until 10 minutes left in rego. All credit to the Leafs for shutting him down, thought it looks to me (roughly) that Ovi has been shooting a bit less lately. I might be seeing things that aren’t there, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Alright, not exactly a solid win, but the two standings points are what really matters right now. I’m essentially switching to playoff mode, where I don’t care how the team wins so long as they win. Predictions and projections and possession be damned; just scoar moar than the other dude.
And now, to California. Kings, Ducks, Sharks. Those are three of the best teams in the league, and I’d be surprised if a Cup doesn’t come from one of ’em (probably not Bruce’s team though, sorry). It’s totally possible for the Caps to go oh-fer. If they can buck expectations and come back with six points, everything will be different. Literally everything.
Let’s do this.
P.S. Come to our party!