By Chris Gordon
Pure skill. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
On Saturday night, the Washington Capitals got back on track with 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The skillful play of the new second line was the story, especially Martin Erat and his three assists. Erat, though, wasn’t the only flowing haired playmaker on the ice. That title also belongs to Steve Oleksy, who made a sublime curl-and-drag on Brooks Laich’s second period tally.
Picking up the puck from Martin Erat, Oleksy charged towards the faceoff dot. Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson attempted the poke check, but Steve O went all sick nasty, blowing past him. Oleksy then dished the puck to the front of the net and Laich finished the play. Beautiful.
“That one surprised me,” head coach Adam Oates said with a laugh, adding that he was “panicking for a second.”
“Great play, and I’m glad,” Oates continued. “He’s a guy, from where he came from last year, has just done nothing but continually improve. I know he’s been a sponge with Calle [Johansson] and that’s great to see. Great to see him rewarded that way.”
After the game, Oleksy played the dangle off as just another play. He was doing his job, not trying to make GIF-worthy material.
“I knew the guy thought I was gonna rip it right away,” he told me. “I kind of let him make the first move and got around him. Good traffic in front so I was just trying to get it through to the net and Brooksie was ready to tap it home.”
It was an eventful night for Oleksy, who also had a never-ending fight with the pesky Brandon Dubinsky — all while making sure his hair was perfectly coiffed.
Oleksy’s teammates agreed that the 27-year-old defenseman has unappreciated puck handling talent.
“You know what, Steve O, he surprises you,” Joel Ward said. “A lot of people don’t give us much credit. I think he can make a lot of great plays. It’s not just Greenie or Carly back there.”
“It was good for Steve O,” Ward added. “You can tell the kid’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Ditto for Laich.
“Steve’s done it before,” Laich told me with a shrug. “He’s got underrated skill.”
#OleksyForNorris, or something.
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