On the day that Semyon Varlamov’s bobblehead was given away to blood donors at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Braden Holtby would not be outdone on the awesome meter. After Benoit Pouliot dumped the puck in after the referees’ whistled the Habs for being off-side, the sassy 21 year-old ‘keeper kicked the puck into the air, caught it with the blade of his stick before flipping it into his glove. Another great Holtbyism? You bet!
The top line converts, but Ovechkin is pretty mellow. (Photo credit: Lou Capozzola)
I know a special place. A magical place. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where normal men are giants, and struggling hockey teams play like they’ve never been better. A place called Long Island.
The Washington Capitals spent the evening in that benign growth of land dangling unloved off the mainland. There they met the New York Islanders (29th in the league in… oh let’s just say everything). But the Caps didn’t play down to their competition. Instead they looked like the studs we know deep down they really are. But looks can be deceiving.
Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin delivered a masterful possession that Jason Chimera finished off from the goal mouth. Backstrom then broke his 21-game goalless streak by cleaning up an Ovechkin rebound. On a rail, NYI’s Michael Grabner beat John Carlson’s coverage and Braden Holtby’s read to put the Islanders on the board, but the third period was scoreless. Caps beat Isles 2-1.
Game Over. (Photo credit: Luis M. Alvarez)
Traditionally, Sunday games have been trouble for the Washington Capitals. The crowd might be docile, the ice sloppy, the players hungover; doesn’t matter. Quoting Ovechkin: “It was a five o’clock game. Usually you take a nap at this time.”
Tonight’s bout with Eastern Conference-rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, was remarkable enough to wake the players from their expected slumber. The Flyers, riding a five-game winning streak and leading the league in penalties, brought the smash-mouth brand of hockey that we expected and did not permit the Caps to play lazy.
Flyer Nikolay Zherdev beat the Caps’ new goalie, Braden Holtby, on a two-on-one to open up the game. Eric Fehr responded with a low-probability/high-awesomesauce snipe from a wide angle. Ville Leino (who it turns out is a person and not a cozy Italian hamlet) got improbably lucky off a deflection to put the Flyers up 2-1. Alex Semin tied the game up on a power-play sweep-in, and there the scored remained until the end of regulation. The specter of a Sean O’Donnell boarding penalty chased the Flyers into OT, which Mike Green turned into an OTGWG. It wasn’t the raucous glove-dropper we were expecting, but a W is a W: Caps beat Flyers 3-2 (OT).
Buckle up, friends; we’re taking a victory lap.
Over the last year (technically more like 9 months), we’ve had some terrific highlights. Yes, the grim shadow of the playoffs still hangs over the year, but we choose to remember the good times. Our finest moments are usually our team’s finest moments as well, and so our recollection includes the high points of both the team and our silly blog.
At latest count, our Facebook page has 1,047 likers (including my mom). The parade of typos we call our Twitter account has 1,493 followers. The website itself is north of 300,000 hits, which is kind of dumbfounding if you think about it too long. Our teammates Neil and Fedor have parlayed their skills into gigs with VOA and Washington Examiner respectively. Even Peter has managed to hustle free pub fries from The Greene Turtle using the blog.
If we had to pick a single highlight for the year, it would have to be Andrew Gordon’s residency during the Calder Cup Finals. When Ian blackmailed convinced Andrew to pitch in, we didn’t know quite what to expect. Once Andrew turned in his first column, we figured out that his writing chops are just as formidable as his hockey skills. Andrew provided an unprecedented look not only behind the scenes, but also into the heart, of professional hockey. We are eternally grateful to Andrew for both his candor and the oodles of traffic he delivered.
After losing the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals at home, the Hershey Bears are now one win away from raising the Calder Cup for the eleventh time in club history, and in back-to-back years. Holy Schnikes!!
But despite Hershey’s 3 game sweep of Texas at Cedar Park Center, the Stars can still draw confidence off Games 1 and 2 where they frustrated the AHL’s highest scoring team. Which Bears team will show up Monday for Game 6? The one that tried to play fancy, stick around the perimeter and let it’s emotions get the best of them, or the one that played simple, went hard to the net and kept its cool?
Today, Hershey held a 45-60 minute practice at Giant Center and Bears first line center Keith Aucoin hoped it was the latter: