“WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Jason Chimera hasn’t scored a lot of goals this season — so few, in fact, that’s it’s become A Thing. Chimera markers are special occasions to be celebrated– like a John Carlson backcheck. But Thursday, in game one of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, we got another special occasion.
Just 46 seconds after Marcus Johansson took Steve Oleksy‘s divine saucer pass and put it behind Henrik Lundqvist in the second period, Chimmer added another goal to Washington’s tally. Taking a pass from Mathieu Perreault, the Bald Bullet swept the puck towards the net from the blueline. It seemed as if Chimera was trying to set up a play for Matty P, who by then had parked himself in front of net. Instead, Chimera’s puck trickled lazily past King Henrik.
“He’s had some struggles as far as the regular season goes,” Troy Brouwer said of Chimera. “To see him score early on, get confidence, play well [is good]. He loves helping the team out, he loves playing hockey, and he did a great job tonight.”
The golden years of the Capitals’ “Young Guns” — Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Alex Semin — are over. Back in 2009, they were scoring almost constantly, having career years as the Caps blew out teams on the way to the Presidents’ Trophy.
Mike Green does his best Alex Ovechkin impersonation. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
Three years later, Bruce Boudreau is gone, the goals are way down, and Washington barely made the playoffs. But Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals they made a reappearance.
“We’ve been here the longest,” Backstrom told reporters after the game. “We need to step up.”
Ovechkin — whose struggles the past few seasons have been well documented — started the scoring off with a knuckling slapper that Henrik Lundqvist could not handle. Then, after New York tied the game up, Backstrom unleashed a fantastic snipe from the slot. And with the contest knotted at two with 5:48 left in the third, Green fired a bullet from the point on the power play to send the series back to New York even at two games apiece.
After the grueling march of disappointment that was Game Three, we expected a rallying effort from the Caps. But we weren’t naive enough to expect a different kind of game. We know by now that the Capitals are capable of playing only one-goal games. What we didn’t know is that they could get goals out of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green in the same game. It was like 2009 up in here.
Artem Anisimov tied it up early in the second by beating Braden Holtby, who was left helpless when Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin couldn’t block a weirdly bouncing pass. Nick Backstrom reasserted the lead by tenderizing Artem Anisimov and then putting Chimera’s pass in the net. Artem Anisimov won an icing race against Jeff Schultz and set up Marian Gaborik for another tying goal through Holtby’s five-hole.
Mike Green put the Caps up with a powerplay goal late in the third. It was the game-winner. Caps beat Rangers 3-2.
Luckily, for Caps fans, Alex Ovechkin brought his sniper stick today.
In his first shift after the Verizon Center crowd erupted in their “Ovi! Ovi!” chant at the 8-minute mark, Ovechkin capitalized on a brutal Chris Kreider turnover in the Rangers’ zone. As Kreider attempted a no-look pass to the center of the ice (a no-no in every professional hockey league except for the KHL) the puck went right to Ovechkin instead, who one-timed the puck past Henrik Lundqvist’s glove.
This year has been something of a breakout for Jason Chimera, with the speedy winger hitting a career-high 20 goals and becoming a key piece of the Capitals’ depth. You didn’t have to tell Henrik Lundqvist he could score — Chimera now has goals in three consecutive postseason games against the Rangers, going back to the last game of the Caps/Rangers series in 2011, and has become something of a personal nightmare for the All-Star goalie.
You can’t expect the goals to come easy against a netminder of that caliber though, and Chimera’s tally in the Caps’ 3-2 win on Monday was anything but. Following a crazypants individual effort from Matt Hendricks and an equally crazy almost-save from Lundqvist, Chimera finished off the team’s efforts to tap the goal in. We take a closer look below.
Brooks Laich skated the puck into the Rangers’ zone with ten seconds left to go. He had a decision to make. Leading a 3-on-2 break in the closing seconds, he could have either pulled up and shot the puck from the perimeter, hoping for Jason Chimera to convert the rebound, or he could send a lateral pass over to the Capitals leading scorer, Alex Ovechkin, and see what magic he could make.
Instead, Laich opted for option C: a high-risk, high-reward hailmary saucer pass to Jason Chimera that would have to travel over two defenders’ sticks and somehow find the tape of his stick.
The Washington Capitals took their future into their own hands with a big overtime win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. As John Walton said, “the king is dead, and the Caps are still dancing.” The Caps have waited until now to find out who their round two dancing partner would be while a couple Games Sevens shook out. But now we know who will join the Caps in the conference semifinals.
The Washington Capitals will face the New York Rangers in the second round. This is fine with us: we’re in a mood right now and there’s nobody the Caps cannot beat. Still, of all our team’s potential dancing partners, the Rangers are the ones who usually step on our toes. Follow us past the jump to have your memory refreshed on exactly who these guys are, and what they’ve been up to since we saw them last.
The Pregame: Fun! Today’s installment of “Places That Smell” has us visiting the big macher of smells, New York City! Boo-yah!
This is fun because it’s true. The entire place is one massive reek… or, more accurately, hundreds of smaller little reeks. Did you know, for instance, that the five boroughs of New York City were formed not for political reasons, but as a way of keeping one smelly New Yorker from having to endure his pungent neighbors? The subway pretty much put an end to that, and now the whole place stinks like the laundry room in a European hostel. Anyone who’s been in either knows this to be gospel truth.
The Pre Game: We’re thankful for Puck Buddy Bunny and Dave E filling in for us on the pregamer for the Winnipeg Jets game a few days back. So, too, were RMNB readers, if the comments are to be believed (and really, has the Internet ever lied?) “I retract any critical statements I’ve made of Doug Johnson in the past,” commented one ‘CDizz.’ To which we say: ha ha! We’re betting you will soon be retracting that retraction, Mr. Dizz. We now return you to your regular, disappointing pregames.
It must be said, however that these last few games have been anything but disappointing for Caps fans. Sure, Wednesday’s result was closer than we like (in part due to a genuinely crummy officiating call against Mike Knuble’s third-period goal that made us throw things at the television) and we’re still only talking a ‘streak’ of two games. We always considered, and still do, any talk of streaks in either direction premature. A streak implies consistent success or failure of the team to execute; this past week or so proves that Coach Boudreau’s squad is not consistent, playing like jellyfish one game and superheros the next. Still, Sasha, Nicky, and Chimera were a gravy-boat of goodness against the Jets, as was the team overall, and we have reason to believe that may continue. Or hope. Reason to hope, maybe. To believe. Moving on…