Playing the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, Troy Brouwer scored a powerplay goal — his third of the year — off a pretty, pretty pass from Nicklas Backstrom. Brouwer got mobbed by his teammates, skated back towards the bench, and… hey wait a second.
Note: I’m writing this post heavily medicated and a day after right-leg surgery. Yes, I’m hockey-player tough.
While the Washington Capitals got outplayed in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Jets, they came out strong in the second , scoring some goals and getting a little cocky. I love it when my favorite team gets cocky. Particularly because it can lead to a line brawl, one started by five-foot, ten-inch (yeah right) French Canadian Mathieu Perreault.*
After absorbing a legal shoulder-check from tough guy defenseman Zach Bogosian, Perry decided to get a lil’ saucy and slash Bogosian in the legs. Bad idea.
This pretty much sums up the night. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
So our dads Peter and Ian decided to give your humble PuckBuddys the keys to the RMNB-car for recaps over the next few games. Ha! We promised them not to drive at dangerously high speeds with the top down while stealing people’s mail and laughing wildly. We promise you we won’t keep that promise.
Speaking of a wild ride, Tuesday’s geshrey was whether Adam Oates would pull his Caps back together under his new system, or whether they would revert to old ways/panic. Would this be the first home opener loss since the turn of the century? Would we rally from the Bolts shellacking and figure out our PK? Would Ribiero perform? Would Lady Mary really marry cousin Matthew? We have our answers.
10:02 in the 1st, Matt Hendricks gets the pass from Nicky for the first home score in almost a year, with a big crash o’ the net. That’s answered at 12:34 into the first, on a power play when the nasty Evander Kane sunk one on Holtby, unassisted. Andrew Ladd sinks a direct bullet at 16:26 – right through a non-existent Caps defense and a tired-looking Holtby (there, I said it.)
Second frame brought out a little toughness from both sides, with hopes on a Dustin Byfuglian penalty, yielding nothing. Kane knocks to Blake Wheeler, who then taps in at 14:32 to take the Jets up 3-1. PuckBuddys start crying. And then oh-noes: with less than a minute left, Slater tips in a dribbler for a boo-bird 4-1. Everyone grab your junk as Hendy puts Slater down after the horn; Verizon hall yawns.
In the third, an early Capitals power play nets Troy (handsome) Brouwer in the bin and washes out our chances. Remember when we were up in this game? haha. Caps swarm to save Braden Holtby half-way in, which almost raises our spirits. Hendy tries to rally the team; nothing juicy follows. A spit more than 1 minute left, Troy-Boy (off Ribiero) swags it in but gives the Jets a PP.
JETS BEAT CAPS 4-2.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Last time the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets met, Ovechkin got taunted and the Caps lost a slot in the standings. The Caps remembered and came out swinging this game. But then Dale Hunter enacted his formula for something, and everything went to hell.
Thanks to Jeff Halpern, Jason Chimera went cruising along in the O-zone, tucking the puck behind Pavelec with his backhand. Alex Ovechkin recorded two consecutive goals in the second– a subtle wristshot and a loud 6-on-5 one-timer. The Jets rallied back with goals from Maxwell and Little before the second intermission. The Caps had literally no offense (seriously, none) in third until Spencer Machacek tied it up.
Into overtime, where Stapleton won it. Jets beat Caps 4-3 (OT).
This is a legal hit in Canada.
Heading into tonight’s game, there was no doubt that the Jets’ season was on the line. With a loss, they would fall six points behind the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot — all but essentially eliminating them from the playoff race. “These are games that define your team,” Evander Kane told The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “And we’re going to see what we’re made of.” Sure are.
Predictably, the Jets came out fired-up and scored first. Andrew Ladd tallied his 24th goal of the season on literally a magical backhander. 22 seconds later, the Capitals responded, as Marcus Johansson perfectly placed a slap-pass onto Brooks Laich’s blade and watched him tip it in past a helpless Ondrej Pavelec.
Late in the second period, the Jets regained the lead as Nik Antropov out-worked Ovechkin to the front of the net to flip one past Vokoun. Mathieu “I’m teeny tiny like a leprechaun” Perrault managed to tie the game again on a third period power play. Unfortunately, Dustin Byfuglien and his big rear were too much to handle. Jets beat Caps, 3-2.
Vokoun reacts after letting a Dustin Byfuglien shot from the red line go in. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
After Monday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Capitals are 2-4-1 in February and find themselves in ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Caps have clearly struggled without superstars Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, but the most bizarre aspect of the Capitals recent play has been their propensity for giving up goals from center ice.
The first goal of the Caps’ 5-3 loss to the Sharks was marked as having been scored from 69 feet since the puck deflected off Joe Pavelski, but the fluke bounce that got behind Braden Holtby came from another 80-foot shot that turned into a goal against. The terrible part is that we can say “another” — Pavelski’s goal Monday was the third puck shot from at least 80 feet that’s resulted in a goal this month. All three Caps starters in net this month, Michal Neuvirth, Tomas Vokoun, and Braden Holtby have allowed one each.
Let’s review this bizarre phenomenon.
The Puck Drop: Lesson – don’t waste all your good rival city bile in your first pregame post. You may get the hahas, but it doesn’t leave you much room for new jokes. Lesson: as we continue to repeat until GMGM hears us, there are two Caps teams. One team is Ninja Master, the other is Donkey Kong. There is no telling which will show up, and this must be fixed.
Lesson: do NOT write mouthy, taunting blog posts your team (or butt) cannot cash.
Lesson: if a team is going to win, it will win as a team. The Caps seem to have a hot-shot mentality of late; namely they play really well, until something unexpected happens. Not a first goal, as we seem to play better if we’re just one down, but a second, surprise goal. At that point you can almost see the shoulders schlump, the feet get leaden and the team lose heart, players scrambling to pump the sinking ship (almost like how and fans Verizon last night). Panic does not become a great team. Keep calm and carry on.
All of this is to say: we must be humble if we are to be great.
Eric Fehr, Mark Stuart, Nik Antropov, and Andrew Ladd (Photo credit: John Woods)
The Pre Game: OK, who among us is not looking forward to smearing turkey gravy over fresh rolls with sage stuffing and a slab of dark meat on top with tart cranberry sauce dripping from the side? Maybe everyone who also has to travel home for the annual ‘Parental Maintenance’ festival. Or those who just aren’t in a position to lay a feast on their table.
Don’t ever dare quote us as saying this, but this is a great time of year to be nice to people. Even those you don’t know. Not just Thanksgiving Day, but the coming months of cold, and dark, and at times hunger. Be nice, people.
We don’t handle “being nice” well, at least publicly, so this Thanksgiving preview we’ve handed over to two honest, sweet-natured souls from the Upper Midwest. (*whisper God’sCountry whisper*) “Puck Buddy Bunny” and “Dave E” write for PuckBuddys, and occasionally hoist a drink to the great hockey teams of the midwest, such as the Fightin’ Souix, the Duluth Bulldogs, or (when they must) the Wings.
Either of them have more hockey knowledge at a hat drop than both PuckBuddys on a sober night, and they’ve offered their thoughts on our second tangle with the Winnipeg Jets. We advise you sit up straight, pay attention, then go back to fiddling with your bird.
The Pre Game: I’m going to let you in on a secret. We people of the prairie have known it for decades, but as a group we tend to be Scandinavian, and so tight-lipped. We only pass it down– whispered– when there’s no other choice; as on those nights the wind shakes the windows and hope seems to extinguish in the pit of a cold, dead emptiness. And here it is: there is no darker, stranger place on this Earth than Winnipeg. It’s Canada’s sooty heart of darkness… and now, thanks to the NHL, we have to spend a night there.
You can spend a lifetime overnight in Winnipeg.
The Puck Drop
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s Canada! How scary can that be?” Here’s how creepy: David Lynch won’t even go there. That’s how creepy Winnipeg is. Built at the base of a floodplain that sinks in summer and concentrates the winds into an arctic vortex each winter, Winnipeg is a place that sensible cultures would just abandon. Admit their mistake, move on, and leave it to future anthropologists to try and make sense of the debris: curling, BTO, and Guy Maddin.
Sure, some have escaped. Cody Eakin and Eric the Fehr among the more adorables. But let me ask you this: do you know anyone who’s been to Winnipeg? Didn’t they come back…changed?