Wolski isn’t dead. This is just how he celebrates goals. (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)
Wojtek Wolski was playing first-line left wing when he scored a third period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was February 1. He would take 35 days to notch his next tally, which came during Tuesday’s overtime win over Boston. Wolski scored another goal less than 48 hours later– at the beginning of the Washington’s 7-1 rout of the Florida Panthers.
“It’s the fun part of hockey,” Wolski said of his recent goals. “I had so many chances in the last little while, and they weren’t going in, and we weren’t scoring, and we were losing. It’s tough, it’s frustrating. When it turns the other way and the hard work pays off, it’s reassuring. I’m really happy about it.”
Kevin Dineen needed more than a timeout tonight. (GIF by welshhockeyfan)
The Florida Panthers opened tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals with four straight shots on Braden Holtby in the first 1:44 of game action. They looked sharp. They looked ready to get out of the Southeast division cellar. The wheels fell off 24 seconds later.
As John Erskine wound up from the Panthers’ blue line — in what he would later admit was just a dump-and-change — Florida’s starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom mis-judged Erskine’s blast and allowed the puck to squeak through his seven-hole. 1-0 Caps.
2:36 later, the Capitals would score on their very next shot, as Markstrom was caught off guard by Wojtek Wolski‘s strong net crash. Enter Scott Clemmensen.
Clemmensen gave up two more goals — one to John Carlson and another to Mike Ribeiro — in the next six shots. The Capitals received a standing ovation and headed into intermission with a 4-0 lead, their biggest goal explosion this season.
“I don’t know what to say,” Markstrom told reporters after the game. “It was terrible. I feel like I let the team down. I am there to stop pucks, and I didn’t do that tonight.”
The Washington Capitals just freaking obliterated the Florida Panthers. I don’t know how else to say it. Any flowery language would make the point less elegant: this was a thrashing. One of these teams is the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the other one is the Washington Capitals.
We learned that early, as John Erskine’s muffinly dump-in baffled Jacob Markstrom. We were reminded soon after– when Wojtek Wolski caught a Steve Oleksy pass and made it 2-0 on the Caps’ second shot. That was enough for Markstrom, who got the hook in favor of Scott Clemmensen, who promptly gave up two more goals on the Caps’ next four shots– one from Carlson, one from Ribeiro.
That was all in the game’s first 10 minutes. I could go on, but you get the idea. This was all Caps. Even when the shooting slowed, Braden Holtby was so on top of his game that this was never really a contest.
Hockey is brutal. Mike Green has missed 83 games due to injury over the past two seasons. He’s missed time because of groin, ankle, and concussion issues. Caps fans have called him soft over the years, but Sunday against the Penguins, Green showed how tough he really is.
After taking a big check from Kris Letang and crashing shoulder-first into the boards, Green picked himself up off the ice. He skated towards the bench to get looked over by the trainer, but then Green saw his teammates gain possession of the puck in the corner and instead stopped at the slot. Wojtek Wolski hit him with a beautiful cross-ice pass and Green scored on his former teammate Tomas Vokoun.
Adam Oates talks to Ovi during practice on Saturday. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
Alex Ovechkin has become a one-dimensional player. Once the league’s most creative and premier scorer, Ovi has been stymied by his apparent unwillingness to change — at least so far. His struggles at right wing in the first three games this season demonstrated that much. After just eight periods, the exercise ended. Ovi was back at left wing.
Ovi’s switch has been the story of the season so far for the Caps. But not everybody thinks it should be.
“Are we talking about Ovi again? That’s bulls—t,” forward Troy Brouwer told me when asked about Ovechkin’s play this season.
“It shouldn’t be difficult,” Brouwer said. “He’s a right handed shot, he should be able to play right wing. It should be hard to play your off wing.”
Coming into the season, Washington Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates had a bold idea. After studying countless hours of film during the lockout, the Hall of Fame player saw that Alex Ovechkin had become too predictable off the left wing and that opposing team’s defensemen had figured him out. So Oates asked the Russian Machine to try playing on the right wing, hoping that it would spur creativity and give Ovechkin more open ice.
On January 24, 2013, In Game Recap, By Doug Johnson
Oy. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
[Editor's note: With RMNB's Peter Hassett out in California for the week, the PuckBuddys recap the latest Caps loss.]
Sometimes, platitudes are the only comfort we have. Like “Third time’s a charm!” Or “All in to win!” Or “Shomer f—-n shabbos!” Yeah, like that.
Be real. We went into this game feeling queasy; like Taco Bell Doritos Volcano Nachos queasy. Walking into Verizon we were already outscored two-to-one in the first two games; an unappealing start. Some pointed fingers at Coach Adam Oates‘ inability to instill discipline. (Those worries may have been answered by Oates’ curious decision to bench Marcus Johansson andMatthieu Perreault, and then re-start Matty.) Some demurred that the team is still learning a new coach and new style, and we’re willing to go some distance here. A few fickle fingers pointed at under-production by Ovi, Holtby, Greenie, Carlson…
Enough. Tonight brought one hard answer: the Capitals aren’t firing.
The first frame saw some testing on both sides of the other’s defense. Good efforts by Green, Backstrom and Ribeiro, and a surprising amount of icing from Montreal. Michal Neuvirth made several great saves (a few too close,) and we were hopeful with Nicky’s late flick to Wojtek Wolski until Ovi spoiled that. The PPs yielded nada, leaving both teams relatively balanced both offensively and defensively (though the Habs lead with hits.)
Second period: oh crap, 5 on 3? Ovi and Brouwer leave the Caps naked, yet Beags and Carlson, while never clearing it out, keep the Caps alive. Then with only :04 in the first PP, Plekanec cracks one in (with Markov on the assist) bumping the Habs up 1-0. Moments later, Andrei Markov (with Pacioretty) snaps one over Neuvy’s shoulder bringing the Canadiens up 2-o. Oxygen slowly leaving Verizon. Can it get worse? Yes. Rene Bourque sails it down the side and snaps it to Brian Gionta, who knocks it past Neuvy, tippling the score at 3-o. You want more? Francis Bouillon, on assist from Josh Gorges, blows one past a clueless Neuvy; Habs go up 4-0, Caps fans register their displeasure.
Third quarter squishes out with pretty much everyone in the wrong spot at the right time. Shots still favoring the Caps, although you’d never know that. Time dribbles by, our RMNB editors suggest a game recap isn’t even worthwhile. We soldier on, as does Matt Hendricks. At least someone’s trying. So is Beags to Chimera to Joey Crabb! Well at least John Carlson’s hair won’t get shutout, even though he’ll get one last penalty.
On January 19, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Scott Audette
Welcome back, everybody! After 250+ days, we’ve finally got new Capitals hockey to watch and kinda enjoy. I say kinda because these Capitals, whom those not dissuaded by cliché might call the new-look Caps, didn’t have their act together on Saturday. Opening the season in Tampa, the Capitals had troubles with even-strength offense and all kinds of special-teams stuff.
Eric Brewer scored the first anti-Caps goal of the year with an outside shot that caught Holtby screened by his own defenders. Joel Ward tied it up with a first-period powerplay goal assisted by Tom “Iron Groin” Poti. That tie was shortlived, as Vincent Lecavalier exploited a defensive breakdown by Holtby & co. to score an easy one.
Joel Ward recorded a second goal to tie the game early in the second period, but Martin St. Louis restored the Tampa lead with a powerplay sweep-in a few minutes later. Wojtek Wolski ingratiated himself to Caps fans with a crucial four-on-four goal late in the second, knocking a rebound past Anders Lindbäck.
Martin St. Louis got his second of the night, a heartbreaking shot from outside during a third-period 5 on 3. Cory Conacher scored the first goal of his career, also the night’s proverbial dagger, on a 3-on-1 breakaway. Ryan Malone scored on the powerplay to make it painfully obvious that the Caps were gonna lose.
On January 18, 2013, In Analysis, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
Since the Caps last played hockey– sometime during the Medieval Warm Period, they’ve lost a few guys. Alex Semin left via free agency for Carolina, Mike Knuble returned to the exotic beauty of Michigan, Tomas Vokoun made a pit stop in Breezewood before heading up to Pittsburgh, and Dennis Wideman got such a ludicrous and undeserved payday in Calgary that you’d think he had left congress to start lobbying for the MPAA.
You’re gonna see some new faces on Saturday night, so here’s a quick refresher on the additions the Capitals made just before the lockout sucked the last ounce of joy out of the universe.