The Washington Capitals are running out of time to earn a playoff berth. Berth is a weird word. It just means anchor, but it sounds a lot more… obstetrical. Like once you clench a berth, you are supposed to take a hot shower and replace electrolytes.
Stuff is looking dire for the Caps, but here’s a spot of good news: they get to play the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday! With a 22-26-11 record, the ‘Canes are the worst team in the eastern conference and the closest thing our team will have to a sure thing from here until April.
The Post-Mortem: So, everyone happy? At least those with Ward and Backstrom shirseys? Luv U Caps, but we’re tired of writing the “Tale of Two Caps” (See: Hassett, Peter) – you know, the bedraggled guttersnipes everyone wrote off after the 1st period who then come back to show their true mettlel? Memo to Bruce Boudreau and team: We don’t need drama. We don’t want drama. Please, enough of the plucky comebacks by the adorable yet overlooked (*cough Nicky cough Greenie*) boy heros. Dickens did it before, and better. (Although, Coach, you’d make a memorable Fezziwig). Memo to Ovi: “In addition to Russian, we’re learning how to lip read. And then we’ll learn how to lip read Russian. быть осторожным!
The Caps had a couple of busy days off after the Ducks game. While Ovi was managing ‘Bench-gate,’ Brooksie, Sasha, and Coach Woods visited the Kent Gardens Elementary for a hockey clinic in the school gym. They had Air Slapshot in tow – if ‘tow’ is the right word to describe dragging along an inflatable mascot (which looked like it had become untethered from a Pink Floyd show). The video and the pics from the day were adorable. However, reports from our McLean bureau (and the school nurse’s office) tell a different story – three school kids ended up on the wrong end of some O zone penalties. Neither the players or coach addressed ‘Stick-gate,’ but Sasha was heard muttering something in Russian (“Чувствительная кожа”), as he was hurried away from school grounds.
Wideman grimaces in pain after being laid out by Tuomo Ruutu. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon!)
Cam Ward celebrates the victory. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
After an extended 10 day break to rest an undisclosed injury, the Capitals welcomed their kapitan back to the lineup Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. During the three game stretch in which Ovechkin sat out, the Caps went 2-1-0, their most dominant win coming Saturday night in Montreal when Braden Holtby shutout the Canadiens.
Alex Semin’s Canadian Ice Dad, Jason Arnott, also returned from injury, forcing Jason Chimera to the press box. Pre-game, head coach Bruce Boudreau told CSN that while it was great that two of his top six forwards were returning, he also had a fear that there would be a letdown. “You know, the guys have been working so hard while [Ovechkin and Arnott] have been out. I’m scared they’ll look at them returning and go ‘they should carry the load now.'”
In the first period, however, Boudreau would have nothing to worry about. Led by a determined Russian Machine, the Capitals as a team hit everything that moved and rifled 16 shots at Cam Ward, feeding off the energy of a Verizon Center crowd they hadn’t played in front of for sixteen long days. The Caps would not see their hard work be rewarded, and the game would remain scoreless until early on in the second period. After Nick Backstrom took a tripping penalty at 1:06, Joe Corvo brilliantly found Jussi Jokinen wide-open in the slot for a one-timer. Jokinen converted and the Hurricanes would take a 1-0 lead.