The New Jersey Devils are the worst good team in hockey. For the last thousand years, they’ve mined success by sucking the fun out of hockey. If it feels like the game is less exciting when the Devils are playing, it’s not just you. The team’s style inhibits shooting by both teams– on average almost 20 fewer shot attempts per game. That’s part of why I was a bit mild heading into Saturday’s pre-Olympic finale between the Devs and the Washington Capitals.
The teams traded power plays in the first period without biscuit-basket despositage. The Devils owned the puck for the most the second period, but left the basket unbiscuited. The third period was more of the miserable same until rookie Julien Brouillette put the biscuit in the basket with ten minutes left. The Devils emptied their net and then Marty Erat finally brokered a biscuit-basket merger and then Troy Brouwer was like, “yeah, this basket can handle more biscuits.”
Caps beat Devils 3-0. Braden Holby’s third shutout!
Look how tiny Jagr looks. (Photo: Patrick McDermott)
I hate the way the Devils play. They stifle offense (i.e. fun, Capitals-style hockey) and execute the trap as if it’s not something to be ashamed of. Luckily, they did it poorly on Saturday night. What I expected to be a low-scoaring affair ended up being a crash-the-net party with a whole lot going on. The Caps exploded in the second period, but the Devils rallied in the third and won it in overtime.
For the Devils’ first shot, Marek Zidlicky got a dart past Braden Holtby on the power play. The Caps struck back with three goals in the second period, starting with Jason Chimera whacking in his own rebound from right under Brodeur’s nose. Mikhail Grabovski caught Eric Fehr’s pass right in the paint and knocked it in to give the Caps the lead, and Joel Ward crashed the net to make it 3-1 going into the third.
Jagr scored in the third period. I don’t want to talk about it. Alex Ovechkin was in the penalty box for that one, but he redeemed himself with an even-strength goal from the slot a few minutes later. The Devils rallied late: Zidlicky got his second of the night with a wide open one-timer, and Dainus Zubrus tied it with eight minutes left. That’s the way it stood at the end of regulation.
Game Over Andy Greene got a lucky bounce in overtime to win it for Jersey and save us all from the shootout.
Devils beat Caps 5-4 (OT).
Photo credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo
The Washington Capitals have picked up Swedish defenseman Alexander Urbom off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound blueliner was drafted by New Jersey 73rd overall in 2009.
A left-handed defenseman, Urbom is known for his reliable defensive game. His physical play has improved in recent years spent mostly with the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Albany. He has played in just 14 NHL regular season games, scoring two goals. Urbom, who worked with Caps head coach Adam Oates in New Jersey, is a mobile defenseman and an effective defender.
The Washington Capitals’ loss to New Jersey Devils on Thursday was one of their worst games in years. Saturday’s matinee still had some problems with penalties, but they added a magic ingredient: Alex Ovechkin’s thirst for SCOAR MOAR GOALS.
Alex Ovechkin sank a one-timer to cap off a great entry sequence by Chimera and Ribeiro. Ilya Kovalchuk used John Erskine as a screen to beat Braden Holtby late in the second period. Alex Ovechkin got his second of the day– coming up the right side and shooting between Volchenkov’s legs. Eric Fehr scored a shorthanded goal after robbing Johan Hedberg behind his net. Ovechkin converted a power play goal late in the third, and the hats rained down. Then Troy Brouwer got everybody wings, and it was party time.
Caps beat Devils 5-1.
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
I had a recap for tonight, but then the third period happened; my story was rendered irrelevant. In the span of 11 minutes, the Washington Caps took six penalties and allowed two goals to blow 2-1 lead to the New Jersey Devils. It was awful and frankly surreal. This wasn’t the ref’s fault, it was entirely the Capitals’. You cannot take that many penalties and survive. The Caps did not survive.
[Ed note: After a year of doggedly researching and documenting the panoply of awfulness that are the Washington Capitals’ rival cities and teams, the PuckBuddys‘ physicians grew concerned, recommending they take a nice, quiet rest somewhere so they could forget temporarily about hockey and focus instead on finger paints and macaroni art. Helpfully, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr gave them just the right opportunity to lay down their burden.
Now, no longer able to keep them involuntarily committed, the Buddy’s have returned to crash our net and empty the NHL’s septic tanks that you, wisely, would rather not. Because that’s just the sort of stand-up guys they are.
However, we caution they are still a bit on edge. So please, everyone…no sudden movements.]
The Scene: The pioneering urban anthropologist Ulf Hannerz once remarked “That which most repels us in other cultures is very often what lies buried and secret at the heart of our own.” Well, no he didn’t; I just made that up. But then again, I doubt that Ulf ever visited New Jersey.
Neuvy run over during the second period. (Photo credit: Mel Evans)
[Editor’s Note: Peter Hassett wisely took the opportunity to leave DC this week. Ian Oland is in protective custody. Chris Gordon has joined the circus on the trapeze. The PuckBuddys are entirely responsible for this week’s tragic events.]
“Nothing ever really goes away – it just changes into something else.” – Sarah Ockler.
There’s a last bit to that quote that we’ll share at the end. (Spoiler!) Still, we can’t help but watch the Capitals 2013 and wonder: what are they changing into? And where is this metamorphosis leading? Answers – now.
First period: Some early testing by the Caps heartens us. We like what we’re seeing on defense from Ward; once again, the Caps look dominant in the first. Can’t hear the name “Travis Zajac” without thinking about buying a vowel. Yes, that’s what we’re down to. Sadly, Jacob Josefson to Stephen Gionta (brother of Habs’ Brian) with a snapper past Neuvy puts them 1-up.
Second begins with a dash to the Caps net, gobbled up by Neuvy. Mike Ribeiro and Jason Chimera denied what shoudda coudda been. Troy Brouwer passes to no one, which is somehow emblematic of the team this year. Phew! on a Neuvy save during a Devs attempt at a shortie, leading to both teams feeling a little better about themselves, while Martin Brodeur notches another lump on his coconut. Phew! again as Neuvy (again) saves the Caps on a Devils PP. Tonight is a good night for Neuvirth, so heck, let’s give him a 5-on-3 because why not? Of course, Patrik Elias scores (nothing you can do, Neuvy) bringing Devs up 2-o. Please let this end.
Last period starts with us wondering if the mullets (*ahem Carlson*) are slowing the Caps down. Adam Oates looks sour like the Dad in “That’ 70’s Show,” which we’re coming to understand. Caps PP yields zip, and we get another shot. MoJo sends it off to nowhere, and Phew! (3x) Neuvy saves the day. Finally, Ward knocks to Ribeiro and the Caps are on the board, 2-1. And then HURRAH! Greenie sends a sizzler into the net, Caps tied 2-2 with less than three minutes remaining. An almost heart-stopper brings us to:
OT: Pushups everyone! Hero becomes the goat as Greenie gets sent to the penalty box and Caps go on PK. Neuvy is on his best game tonight: how many times can we “Phew!”? Caps kill effectively kill the penalty, while Ovechkin is sleep-skating. Twenty seconds to go and Ilya Kovalchuk takes advantage of Ovi’s slop, firing it past Neuvy and ending the game.
SCORE: Devils 3, Capitals 2.
The PreGame: Close your eyes for a moment. Now fling your head out the window.
Wait. Stop that. Open window, fling head, close eyes.
Better. Breathe deep…deeplier deep. Now, what do you smell out there? Summer? Winter? Victory? Streak?
Us? We get mulch, daffodils and notes of flattened street rat. But we much prefer these others. Summer – remember buoyancy and cautious cockiness? Winter; well, early winter means Christmas, and Christmas last was a Capsmas miracle against the Devils, so thank you Baby Jesus!
Victory? Contrary to Maj. Kilgore, victory doesn’t smell like napalm in the morning. Rather it’s a man-handling of the Habs, a swift start and sustained margin against the Leafs, and a ‘You-Ain’t-Gonna-Win” sass against the dreadful Islanders, all in a row. Yum.
And Streak? Actually, we haven’t really smelled that this year for a long, long time. But still, I think I might recall…
Alex Semin interferes with Mattias Tedenby (Photo credit: Andy Marlin)
The last game before the holiday break featured the Washington Capitals in desolation against the New Jersey Devils. The Caps looked desperately weak for most of the game, digging a deep hole. But the third period was an explosion of Caps offense– one of the best comebacks in recent history. Still, the gimmick loomed.
Ilya Kovalchuk struck on a power play in the second period, a dribbling puck between Neuvirth’s pads. Not long later, Alexander Urbom scored on a defenseless net to make it 2-0. Adam Henrique chipped one in from up close to make it dire.
Brooks Laich used some speed and a Wideman pass to get the Caps on the board. Jason Chimera crashed the net and made it a one-goal game. Then Chimera tied it up at the end of a long offensive shift.
Into the shootout, where the Devils came out on top. Devils beat Caps 4-3 (SO), but the Caps take home one well earned standings point.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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