Over the last decade, Caps fans have gotten to know Alex Ovechkin and watched him become one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time. Along the way, we’ve also been exposed to Ovi’s style of communication. There’s always lots of ha ha‘s and exclamation points. And parentheses.
Parenthesis use on social media grew out of Russia as an alternative to smilies. It’s similar to the use of terms like LOL, ROFL, and LIRL— just coded in a simpler way.
On Saturday, the Capitals gave up two goals at even strength (and a garbage empty-netter) in game six, pushing the series to what is likely to be a hurl-inducing game seven on Monday. Usually giving up two goals is a good omen (especially for the talented Capitals), but during this wacky series, in five of the six games the losing team has scored only one goal.
That means that tiny mistakes are magnified. It also means that if you’re focusing on the wrong things– like settling a score or going out of your way to throw a big body check– the open ice you’re surrendering could make the difference between winning and losing, especially against a fast Islanders team.
Two of the Capitals’ leaders made tiny mistakes that turned into back-breaking goals in game six. Let’s review.
With Braden Holtby sick on Friday night, top prospect goaltender Philipp Grubauer made a spot start for the Capitals in game two. The Caps won the game 4-3, but in the process, Grubauer’s kryptonite might have been exposed: high shots to the glove side.
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had his penalty killers play in an aggressive box formation against the Caps’ top-ranked power play. Basically, the Isles player nearest the puck would skate out quickly to force a bad decision by the Caps. The Isles penalty kill, ranked 26th in the league during the regular season (76 percent), thrives on chaos created by their team speed. The Caps made long passes, turned the puck over, and were unable to set up Alex Ovechkin more than once in the left circle. On top of that, the Isles had scouted the Caps power play so much, it seemed as if they knew where the puck was going to go before the Caps did.
Watch how discombobulated the Caps were during their first man advantage.
Tom Wilson draws (and takes) a lot of penalties. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Throughout the season, the Washington Capitals have generated a lot of offense during four-on-four play. With Tom Wilson, who leads the Caps in penalties taken and drawn per 60 minutes of ice time, expected to return to the line-up, it’s not farfetched to think we may see some coincidental penalties doled in the first round series against the Islanders.
While four-on-four play only accounted for 178.5 of the 5002 minutes of the time Caps spent on the ice during the regular season, the Caps scored 13 goals (good for second in the league and among playoff teams) in those situations, meaning they scored at a rate roughly 57 percent higher than in all situations and almost twice as high as during the five-on-five play.
Since then, Holtby has played even more. He’s got a 41-19-10 record, nine shutouts, a 2.21 GAA and .923 save percentage. He’s set a franchise-record 24 consecutive games and faced over 2000 shots. If Holtby plays Saturday against the Rangers, he’ll match Olie Kolzig‘s franchise record for most appearances in a single season (73). If that happens, Holtby, according to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley, would become the 21st goalie in NHL history to play in 73 or more games in a single season.
So, the question is this: Should the Caps rest Holtby on Saturday?
The best part of RMNB, I think, is the community. Helping a family during a dark time, scrounging up a bunch of discontinued hockey sticks, or just general fun in the comments– participation is what makes RMNB fun for me.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve wondered how I can make this an even better place. The answer came to me from the SB Nation blog Cage Side Seats: More GIFs. Sometimes we’ll be discussing things in the comments, and words just aren’t enough. Sometimes you need to convey how you feel. The best way to do that is with GIFs.
So, for every notable person in the Caps organization, I will present an article full of my favorite GIFs and my recommendations on when to use them in the comments or in social media.