Brouillette rides Oshie through the defensive zone. (Photo: Tom Gannam)
Put your knives away for one more night. The Washington Capitals played a tough road game against the St Louis Blues and came out victorious. Thanks to the novel concept of top-six forwards playing in the top six, the Caps survived an elimination game against a great opponent.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season in the first period, a signature Ovi shot from the Ovi spot. The Blues, who dominated even-strength play, got one of their own off Maxim LaPierre’s stick early in the second period, but Mikhail Grabovski fired a slapshot from the faceoff dot to restore the Caps lead a bit later. Ovechkin served up Nick Backstrom for a rare even-strength goal late in the second period, creating a two-goal lead going into the third period. Uh oh.
Okay, relax. Backstrom unleashed a wrister from the circles early in the third.
Caps beat Blues 4-1. Staying Alive!
- Braden Holtby looked 100% comfortable in net. When I scheduled that Holtby stat post last night, I was like, “Ian, we gotta get this thing live before the Caps announce he isn’t starting on Tuesday.” Wah wah wahhhh. Holtby was awesome. Holtby is awesome.
- Boom. Fifty goals for Alex Ovechkin for the fifth time in his career. No one has done that in like 13 years. I’m trying to think of a way to explain the role Alex Ovechkin occupies on this team and how wrong most people are about it, but I can’t do any better than this:
Alex Ovechkin now has FIVE 50 goal seasons in the NHL. If you think he is a problem, YOU are the problem.
— Talk The Red (@TalkTheRed) April 9, 2014
- This is silly, but I’m actually more amped about Ovechkin’s assist on Nick Backstrom‘s first goal, which somehow occurred while there were an equal number of skaters on each team. That was just Ovi’s 8th even-strength assist of the season. It was a perfect pass– and probably what Oates was expecting all along when he put Ovi on the right wing way back when. Oh well. Parting gift.
- Who else is great? Mikhail Grabovski is great and needs to re-sign with the Caps. His lovely slapper in the second period was his first goal since January 9– almost three months to the day. Poor dude needs a full season to exhibit his awesomeness in a Washington uni.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov committed the first — and second– penalties of his NHL career. Number one was a hook, which is kind of a yawn. Number two was for throwing his stick to a teammate, which is so enigmatic. The Caps were in deep trouble on that four-minute penalty kill until Backstrom and Troy Brouwer combined for a shorthanded breakaway chance that led to a 4v4. Well done.
- Hard to overstate how much the Blues owned this game during even strength. Even before the Caps got a lead, the Blues were outshooting the Caps two-to-one. Thank goodness for special teams and a little bit of puck luck.
- The Caps bottom six in particular got outpossessed to a comedic level. I’ll update when we have the final numbers, but I haven’t seen anything like this before. Troy Brouwer hadn’t been on the ice for a Caps 5v5 shot attempt through 50 minutes. Good god, that is bad.
- Speaking of Brouwer, check out our GIFs his disaster shift. Poor baby. He and Johansson seem alright, which is good news because one of them is decidedly fragile.
“Every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force, its will to power, and to thrust back all that resists its extension.”
— Nietzche, The Will to Power
The Caps would not go gentle into that good night, so maybe the Nietzche quote describes them. Or maybe it’s just a little epigram with which to string Jaro Halak. Given the latter is only relevant to Caps world for another few days, let’s say it’s about the rest of the Caps. They grabbed the W by the horns and hung on for sixty tough minutes. Bravo.
The Wings and the Jackets both won tonight, so Washington’s margin for error is gone. It’s win or LITERALLY DIE from here on out, but that better not be the only prism we look through for this team.
Each game has merit in and of itself. Each shift has something worth watching. Each play has the potential to be special. It just so happened that these plays and these shifts added up to victory, but should the grander context of the Caps’ season disappear before Thursday night, there’s still reason to watch. You get to decide what that reason will be for you.
— Billy (a.k.a.: Will) (@Billy_Rothman) April 9, 2014
I got your will to power right here, pal.