EVEN LATER UPDATE: Lisa Hillary comments have been clarified. Varly’s involvement in the Olympics is “doubtful”. This is definitely a more pessimistic take than others are sharing, but not completely dire.
LATE UPDATE: During the post-game report on CSN, Lisa Hillary reported that Semyon Varlamov has had another setback in his recovery (groin, then MCL strain). According to CSN, Varlamov will NOT be playing in the Olympics.
Every year, the Detroit Red Wings are a staple of the playoffs. It’s a truism of hockey that to get to the cup you must first go through them. For the bigger part of tonight’s hockey game, it looked like the Washington Capitals were not up to the challenge. But there’s a new truism — one that the Capitals have coined– that strength comes from depth. Through the efforts of low-key players like David Steckel, Matt Bradley, Jose Theodore, and Nicklas Backstrom (okay, he’s a superstar); the Caps came back to win a crucial game.
Let’s review shall we:
The last two Caps games have had us reeling. We suffered a wild beatdown from the Lightning on Tuesday, replete with spats and brawls, and then a soaring come-from-behind win over the Panthers, also punctuated with fights. Returning back to the Verizon Center for a game against Maple Leafs, you’d think the Caps would offer us a reserved performance of surgical offense and careful defense. Instead we got a bronco-busting, goal-splattered free-for-all. We’re not complaining. Before the third period could end, The Caps and Leafs showed us a series of spats that could tide us over for weeks. The final frame of this heavyweight bout devolved into a fight of Greene Turtlian proportions. If our boys weren’t ahead by five goals, we might have been a bit sour on how it played out.
Let’s dissect the
fight hockey game:
If I told you that tonight’s game hinged on Brendan Morrison (no goals since 12/23) and Brooks Laich (no goals since 12/28) scoring, you probably wouldn’t have been optimistic. If I told you that of five back-to-back game pairs, the Caps lost the second game four out of five times, would you have a good outlook for tonight? Well, forget you, dude. The Washington Capitals proved their depth of talent and character in a stunning come-from-behind shootout win over the Florida Panthers.
It could have gone very differently. After last night’s– let’s just call it a hosedown– the Caps could have lost their momentum and zombie-shambled through the rest of their trip down south. One could argue that Tuesday showed the Caps’ self-detonating: losing their composure and revealing their myriad flaws. I think instead they showed grit and character in that loss. The Caps left Tampa last night with some scrap of dignity and, bouyed by Matt Bradley, a renewed sense of teamwork. That spirit was paramount in Sunrise.
The first period opened like we all feared it might. The Panthers led 2-0, and the Caps’ offense was absent. Michal Neuvirth’s puck-stopping came up short. Stop me if you heard this one before. It seemed like Florida would be able to coast to an easy win over thebestteamevertoplaythesportofhockey. But no. Not tonight. Not under the new reign of Captain Alexander Ovechkin and his merry men. The boys mounted an epic and late-brewing comeback, earning a teeth-clenching shootout finish. On the back of Tomas Fleischman, the Caps fought for this win.
If you can’t tell already, this game is the bizarro version of last night’s game. Let’s break it down.
If tonight’s blistering win over the Ottawa Senators is emblematic of anything, it’s our team’s enduring hatred of Canada (America Junior). Yeah, the country’s teams have been problematic for the Caps all season, but Canada really bit off more than it could chew when it overlooked the best defenseman in its country, Mike Green, for the 2010 Olympics. Taken with Tuesday’s victory over the Canadiens and John Carlson‘s OT goal to win the World Junior Championship, tonight’s beatdown is the icy punctuation on the Caps sentence: Eat it Canada. Eat it hard. Eat delicious buffalo wings.
The Caps have been caught unawares in the first period for the past two weeks, but tonight they broke the habit with a goal by… wait– what? Boyd Gordon? We didn’t even know he was playing tonight, and all of a sudden he’s the first on the board. Joined by vet Mike Knuble, the Caps ended the first frame with a two-point lead. The team cooled off, as it alway does, in the second period, but they came back with fury unleashed in the third. The Verizon Center was crackling with energy all night, and we look forward to a report from Ian “blogpocalypse now” Oland on his visit all night.
Let’s do the bullet points.
Verizon Center is quiet tonight, spared from hockey games and gun fights alike. Despite that, this is in no way a quiet day for the Washington Capitals.
That’s all the news that fits for tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow night to chronicle the Caps’ thunderous 6-1 defeat of the Senators, and what we predict will be the team’s first hat trick of the season (by Matt Bradley). Stay tuned to see if we’re right!
The late start (10pm) of tonight’s west-coast game may preclude any recap before today becomes tomorrow, so the boys and I decided to lower your expectations in advance.
The Caps got smacked pretty good by the Hurricanes on Monday night. The boys looked lazy and disjointed. It’s been a tumultuous week on and off the ice, so we’re going to rattle off a bunch of excuses in case the team somehow manages to lose to the best team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks.
Goalie drama. Tarik El-Bashir, Washington’s only remaining hockey-beat reporter, assures us that Little Mikey Neuvirth will start in goal this evening. His backup, Jose Theodore, is 10 years his senior. Theodore racked up a career-best 41 saves just two months ago, but has since been uneven in goal. Bruce Boudreau may now lack confidence in the netminder. I’d be dubious, too, as the guy was once hooking up with Paris Hilton. It doesn’t help that Semyon Varlamov has recovered from some early season miscues and revealed himself as an Olympic-level keeper. Once Varly returns from Hershey and his bout with crotch rot, we may have one of those classic sitcom scenarios on our hands.
Today we learned that Mike Green was not selected for Canada’s Olympic hockey team. This is only the latest in a long line of poor decisions for Canada (giving Alanis Morissette a microphone, slicing bacon too thick, letting Michael J. Fox leave the country), and one they will likely regret. The guy is the number-one scoring defenseman in the league right now. I mean– what else could Team Canada possibly want in a defender other than goal-scoring? Russian Machine worries for Greenie’s bruised ego, and has begun a Twitter campaign to make him feel better and also invade Canada.
Boyd Gordon isn’t playing tonight. Stop the f$#&ing presses.
Jason Chimera will be joining the Caps lineup this evening. The left winger from Columbus is expected to join the second line, perhaps taking (Olympian) Tomas Fleischman’s spot as he moves to center. Will the lineup and personnel shake-ups bring chaos to the team tonight? Will Chimera be welcomed into the team with open arms? Will Al Koken pronounce his name wrong? We can guarantee only that one of the questions will be answered, “yes.”
Alexander Semin left the ice mid-shift on Monday complaining of an injury. He later returned to the ice, but not before raising some questions about his wellbeing. Russian Machine has a vested interest in the Siberian kicking ass. We were willing to let it slide that he refuses to learn the language, but only so long as he plays games and handles the puck he’s freaking Legolas out there. If Alexander has re-injured his wrist, Russian Machine will demand he refund a portion his 6-million dollar contract extension — paid to us. We will accept payment in Green Turtle pub fries.
Lastly, the Caps are playing a team with a five-game winning streak. For contrast, the boys are on a zero-game winning streak. We lost — badly I might add — to the Carolina Hurricanes. That’s not quite as bad as the Harlem Globetrotters losing to the Atlantic City Seagulls, but it’s still pretty bad. If the Sharks manage to outscore the Caps tonight, blame it on momentum.
We’re now three hours out from tonight’s first puck drop. You have the option of bucking up, quixotically rooting for a win; or you can be like me and dispense with that pollyanna nonse: drink yourself into the last, glorious stupor of 2009 whilst the Caps get the Caps beat out of ’em.
Week two of The Frost King’s Webhits – out of 156* – has links looking at how well the Capitals’ goalies perform on the penalty kill, the diversified scoring of Washington’s forwards, which players excelled at scoring in the past decade, whether defense still wins championships, and a discussion about reforming the shootout system. Enjoy!
* My contract apparently goes through the end of time, which latest info says will be December 21st, 2012. Plan to start (and finish) your Christmas shopping a little early that year!
Gah! On pixel this looked like an easy match up. The Caps, second in the NHL and well atop the Southeast, should be able to lay down the smack on the last-place Canes for the third time this season. That sure as hell did not happen– as the Canes bested the Caps 6-3 and handed the home team their first loss inside the division all season. You could blame it on the distractions from today’s trade, a consistently incompetent defensive squad, or Jose Theodore’s top-heavy prettiness:goalstopping ratio; but the Caps got beat all around the phone booth tonight.
In a somber mood and somewhat nauseated from hot wings, let’s break it down:
Daniel Moroz, or The Frost King as some of us know him, will for now on be providing a weekly segment called “Wednesday Webhits” from now until the end of time. Trust me. He’s signed a contract in blood. He can’t get out of it.
This weekly post will deliver powerfully interesting links that will make you laugh, cry and maybe even kiss that dumb brain goodbye.
This week learn about ties, an awesomely great fighter, why EA Sports hates the Capitals and how Jose Theodore’s current flashy statistics might be a little misleading… Take it away Daniel!
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.