John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.
The Ottawa Senators are an insane 16-1-1 with the Hamburglar in net, so we knew before the game it’d take a herculean effort from the Washington Capitals to win. But instead, the Caps came out flat and made a myriad of mistakes. First, they gave up an early even-strength goal to young star Mark Stone after a bad shift change.
At this point, the Caps went HAM and took three minor penalties in 1:38.
Elliotte Friedman is one of the most connected and respected journalists in hockey. On Friday morning, Friedman released his latest 30 Thoughts article, in which he expounded on why the Patrick Sharp trade never materialized.
Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t go to All-Star Games, receive NHL Awards, or get much attention of any kind. He’s just quietly one of the best players in the league making world-class plays every night.
On Tuesday, the NHL’s leading assist man delivered another juicy apple– this time to Joel Ward during a five-on-three power play. Backstrom, in the corner, fired a perfect cross-ice, cross-crease pass to Ward who one-timed the puck past Marc-Andre Fluery. It would stand as the game-winning goal and Nicky’s 44th assist.
By the end of Saturday’s game against the Caps, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price hadn’t let in a goal since Tuesday, a shutout streak of 153:03. While Price was unbelievable against Washington, he proved the old adage that you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.
During the second period, the Caps rang the pipe three times, including twice in a span of 16 seconds. Joel Ward hit it first just 56 seconds into the period. Then, during a power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov sent a cross-crease pass to Alex Ovechkin who clanged a one-timer off the right post. Immediately after that, John Carlson would ring a shot off the left post.
While the Capitals and Red Wings were busy boring a mostly full Verizon Center, a sporting contest of greater import was taking place in the Boston suburbs. With a spot in the AFC Championship Game on the line, the 2013 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens took a 28-14 lead on the New England Patriots. With five minutes left in the game, however, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 35-31 lead and send the entire state of Maryland into Old Bay-seasoned tears.
After the Capitals’ 3-1 victory over Detroit, I caught up with Joel Ward, a massive Ravens fan. Though Ward scored in Washington’s 22nd victory this year, he become downtrodden when I brought up the game.
“I knew they were going to be tough,” Ward said. “I saw that they were up by a couple scores earlier on. Foxboro is a tough building. I can only imagine how they are feeling right now because it was such a battle with what they accomplished. I think a lot of people counted them out early on.”
Featuring hockey player models Joel Ward and Marian Hossa, Reebok tells (or potentially warns) us that Winter Is Coming. We then find The Big Cheese sitting half naked in a slushy lake and hauling a giant tree up a mountain. Yes, for those of you who have always thought that the NHL needed to more closely associate itself with lumberjacks, you’ve gotten your wish.
This whole thing is strange and odd, especially considering the players they chose to feature.
On Tuesday night, as EPIX’s The Road To The Winter Classic began, the Caps began what became the longest shootout in NHL history. The scheduling conflict forced fans to make a difficult decision: reality TV or live hockey. For those who stuck with the live hockey, they got a shootout that went a record twenty rounds, five more than the previous record, which also belonged to the Caps. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin actually shot twice in the losing effort.
Karl Alzner, Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Tom Wilson all got their first career shootout attempts in the same game.
With all the wackiness on the ice and the game determined not to end, the Caps turned to a late-game baseball tradition to influence the outcome: rally helmets.
Ward played his first full NHL season at the ripe age of 28 and has been most productive during his age-33 and -34 seasons. I’ve written before that Ward’s rise in production isn’t sustainable. I’m still not convinced it is fully, but I’m less skeptical than I used to be. What Ward is doing now, namely crashing the net, might be behind the late bloom.