I’ll say this for the All-Star Game: it was entertaining. Just because the stakes were non-existent, the stretch passes were careless, and the skating was lackadaisical didn’t mean there was an absence of drama. Quite the opposite. Just look at hero of the day John Scott. Or, for a Caps-specific angle, how about Braden Holtby vs Jaromir Jagr.
Twice in the first period, Holtby, franchise goalie for the league-leading Capitals, faced Jagr, 43-year-old freak of nature and the single biggest agitator of the Caps since the early 1990s, twice in the first period.
The Montreal Canadiens’ PK Subban just took a selfie during the Skills Competition. I see Patrice Bergeron, Kris Letang, Cory Schneider, Sophia Jurksztowicz playing with her hair, and… hey, wait a second!
We’re going to need to enhance the right-hand corner of the photo.
Wednesday night’s game between the Capitals and the Flyers is significant for two reasons: first, it’s the only Caps game to be played in a thirteen-day period; second, it’s the first time Michal Neuvirthwill face the Washington Capitals in a regular season game. Better yet, this is the first time Neuvy will face his weakest competition yet in the opposing net.
In theory, a legitimately great goaltender playing at the top of their game remains the most valuable chess piece on the board. While the sweetest and most sustainable long-term music is made when all of the figurines up front are working together in perfect harmony, what separates the goalie from the others in importance as they lurk in the background is two-fold: they’ll essentially always be on the ice, and unlike with anyone else there’s ultimately only so much the rest of their teammates can do to shelter them.
Given enough time the puck will eventually expose a lousy netminder, while a dominant stopper will always give their team a chance to stay competitive regardless of how much quality (or more appropriately, lack thereof) there is in front of them. A goalie truly is the ultimate equalizer, either by mopping up mistakes and masking various flaws, or by submarining the efforts of everyone else. That’s not to say that there aren’t players at other positions who can markedly impact those around them, because there undoubtedly are, but it’s remarkable how much a goalie can single-handedly move the needle. It being the position whose performance we can project with the lowest level of certainty year over year is surely ironic, if not somewhat tragic.
Braden Holtby, who has been arguably the NHL’s best player this season, took himself out at the 17:42 mark of the second period. A minute after Holtby gave up a second goal to the Rangers’ Chris Kreider at 17:28, he skated over to an official during a break in play asking to visit with Caps’ head athletic trainer Greg Schmidt.
After a 30 second talk, Holtby took himself out of the game and slowly went down to the lockerroom. He did not appear to sustain an injury on a save.
Such as we learned that there is apparently no end to Braden Holtby‘s other-worldly talents. Not only is he currently 19-0-2 in his past 22 games, but he’s also an accomplished jumper. As Ovechkin scored, Holtby managed to jump (in all of his equipment) higher than the entire home bench, before racing onto the ice to celebrate the milestone goal with their captain.
On Thursday night the Capitals bested the Islanders, which was nice, bringing their season record to 30-7-3 and their point pace to an unseemly (and probably unreachable) 129, but that’s not why I asked you here today.
Earlier today, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby were named to the 2016 All-Star Game roster, joining Alex Ovechkin, who was named Metropolitan Division Captain last weekend. This marks the first time since 1985 that the Capitals have had 3 players appointed to the All-Star Game at once.
The team was quick to react to the NHL’s choices. Nicklas has long been considered by Caps fans as All-Star material, but this will be his first time attending the All-Star game. His reaction was priceless.