Unable to muster much offense during the first 35 minutes of the game, the Capitals finally woke from their slumber during four-on-four with the Wild (Thanks, Tom Wilson)!
Alex Ovechkin was of course the benefactor. He scored his 46th goal of the season on an impressive individual effort. Taking a pass from Karl Alzner in the defensive zone, Ovechkin turned on the afterburners in neutral and slung a low and hard shot toward Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk gave up a huge rebound off his pads, and Ovechkin beat him glove side.
Yesterday, news broke that there might be a rule change to overtime next season. NHL general managers approved a 3-on-3 format to limit how many shootouts decided games. While the rule still needs to be green-lit by both the board of governors and the NHLPA, there is no one happier in the Caps locker room than Eric Fehr.
Fehr’s had a modicum of success in the shootout (he’s a career 6 for 18), but he was blunt about how much he hated the “skills competition.”
Original young gun, Mike Green, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Green has arguably been the team’s best defenseman this season. He’s fourth on the team in points (39) and has the best possession (52.6 percent) among regular Caps defenseman. He improved the Capitals’ shot-attempt percentage two percent when he’s on the ice (after adjusting for score effects). He’s a big part of the team’s success.
The Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the league by a country mile, managing only 45 standings points in 69 games. But that doesn’t even begin to articulate just how stinky their eye-watering stank is.
Let’s use Alex Ovechkin as a comparison. He is one (1) hockey player. Before last night, the Russian machine, in some categories, had better offensive stats than the entire Buffalo Sabres line-up put together. That’s 18 hockey players, and our crazy, gray-haired Russian is better than all of them.
Seven years ago, Joseph Caprario’s father took his eight-year-old son to a Washington Capitals game after winning a charity auction. This was back in 2008, when Mike Green was electric and on his way to a 31-goal season. After that game, little Joseph met Green. The defenseman gave the fan a game-used stick and signed the blade with a silver Sharpie. Joseph treasured it; he hung the stick on his wall. For the affable Green, it was a routine gesture.
“A few months later, I started playing hockey myself,” Caprario told me. “Meeting Green was what inspired me to do so. I started as a defenseman. He was my favorite player.”
Elyssa Cole, a 29-year-old teacher in Sterling, Virginia, has always been a huge fan of the Caps and an even huger fan of Mike Green. She loves collecting Caps memorabilia. Five years ago, she found on eBay something she had to have. It was a Mike Green game-used stick. Cole splurged, shelling out $200 to buy it.
On Sunday, both Caprario and Cole made the hour-long trip to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to give back to the guy they felt had already done so much for them.
“I figured that if this stick is so good to him that he plays better, this was the right thing to do,” Cole told me. “As a fan, I’d do anything to help the team win.”