The Capitals Stopped Playing and It Cost Them a Goal


Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Capitals were up 4-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning with just over nine minutes to play. The game looked well in hand. Then Dmitry Orlov attempted to flip a puck out of the defensive zone. Instead, it was battled down by Anton Stralman past the blueline. Stralman then reentered the zone. The play looked, at game speed, to be clearly offside. The Capitals benched roared at the linesmen. Nevertheless, play went on. A few seconds later, Tampa had a goal, the start of an impressive third period that could have cost the Capitals the game.

“I thought it was, but I mean I can’t see that,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. “You usually have plays like that just blown down.”

The Caps clearly expected it would be. Jason Chimera, Andre Burakovsky, Jay Beagle, Trevis (?) Chorney, and Orlov all stopped for a second. In the meantime, the Bolts set up in the offensive zone and Brian Boyle one-timed a puck past Holtby.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning scored a garbage goal with three seconds left in the game to make it 4-3. Jon Cooper called time out. The Lightning kept their net empty. That wasn’t wise.

Nicklas Backstrom won the face-off, which Alex Ovechkin immediately shot into the net with under a half second left.

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Christian Ehrhoff’s buyout makes him the best defenseman available. (Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Caps didn’t acquire any NHL players at the draft, so they now look to fill empty roster spots in free agency, which begins at noon.

The team’s primary need is a top-four defenseman who can play with Karl Alzner, Mike Green, and John Carlson. Dmitry Orlov did an okay job at that role last season, but the Caps may want to see a more seasoned player there, especially if playing away from Mike Green might mean Orlov could better utilize his offensive tools.

Here’s my take on four options for defense on the open market.

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Did Alex Ovechkin Get Hurt in Game Three?


Ovi reacts after being slashed by Brad Richards in the third period of game three. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

A few summers ago, Alex Ovechkin did an interview with Mike Vogel where he slouched. I didn’t think it was a big deal. A few screenshots later, Ovi’s bulging belly was the topic du jour and commenters everywhere opined about the Russian machine’s new chubbiness. The whole Fat Gate thing was ridiculous to me, because if you’ve ever seen Ovechkin, you’ve noticed how strong his core area is. It sticks out past his chest. It’s one of the reasons why Ovechkin’s such a physical player and has such explosiveness in his strides.

But since Ovechkin absorbed a crushing hip check from Anton Stralman to his leg, hip, and core in the first period of game three, he hasn’t been quite the same player.

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Animated: Eric Fehr’s Big Hit on Anton Stralman

Eric Fehr's big hit

GIF by welshhockeyfan

Last season with the Winnipeg Jets, Eric Fehr had a disaster season. Still feeling the effects of shoulder surgery, the big six-foot four-inch winger had two goals in 35 games. Winnipeg did not offer him a contract to come back.

His shoulder sure looks healthy now. During the second period of the Capitals match-up Sunday against New York, Fehr drove his shoulder into Anton Stralman’s chest, leveling him to the ice.

Fehr is riding a four-game point streak after assisting on John Carlson’s first period goal. The winger has three goals and three assists during that span.

Good signing, GMGM.

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