Guy behind the glass at left is my favorite. (Photo: Alex Brandon)
With a decisive win over the St Louis Blues on Sunday, the Washington Capitals took the Metropolitan Division lead, vaulted Alex Ovechkin to the top of the NHL scoring leaders list, picked a peck of pickles, padded Braden Holtby’s stats, improved their power-play conversion rate, got Nick Backstrom an entire apple cart full of assists, Frank Stallone, and fended off a strong possession team desperate for a comeback.
Not bad for a Sunday night.
Alex Ovechkin’s first period: dang. Nick Backstrom tapped the puck to him, and he proved that with a little speed and a little space he is better than any goalie in the league. Then he put a little backhand chip shot on a rebound to make it 2-0 and tie St Louis’ Alex Steen for the league lead. Mikhail Grabovski swatted a mid-air rebound off a Jason Chimera shot to make it 3-0 and get Halak pulled.
Vladimir Sobotka capitalized on a second-power power play to keep St Louis’ league-best power play atop the lists. John Carlson got the Capitals special teams a goal of their own a few minutes later, getting a long bomb past Brian Elliott somehow.
Nothing in the third.
Caps beat Blues 4-1! Caps take the Metro lead! Ovi is Ovi!
The Caps lead the Metro. Let’s dance.
That was fun.
Okay, now let’s talk Halak. Please join me in the wayback machine for a second.
Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak‘s unholy pact with 7th-century Carpathian sorcerer Janko Nepomuk Draždiak seems to have paid off nicely as only one of the Caps FIFTY FREAKING FOUR shots passed him.
But [the beginning of the Caps’ decline] really happened in April of 2010, when the shellshocked Capitals began an 18-month retreat from their offense-first posture. This team has been shriveling like a spent something-or-other since that halak-ing, and it hasn’t ceased yet.
Jaroslav Halak’s performance in the 2010 playoffs effectively ended the best era of Caps hockey in the franchise’s history. Within a year of those improbable 217 saves, the Caps stopped playing their style. Within eighteen months, they fired their coach. Within two years, they were at the nadir of Hunter hockey.
It didn’t have to be that way. The best thing the Caps could have done is learn nothing from that playoff series. Instead they changed everything until they no longer resembled themselves.
Embarrassing Halak on Sunday night does nothing to undo the actual damage done to the team in his wake, but it feels like a psychic load has been lifted.
But you didn’t come here to read me get all bittersweet about the SCOAR MOAR GOALS era. Here’s the good stuff.
The Capitals have staked a claim at the top of the Metropolitan Division. The Pittsburgh Penguins have played one fewer game than the Caps, and Wednesday’s game between the two will be huge. I didn’t expect the Caps being this successful in the opening weeks of the season, and that’s because I didn’t take into account a few factors:
So yeah: Pittsburgh on Wednesday for the Metro lead. Sidney and Ovi. “Rivalry night” and the unbearable NBCSN coverage team. I’ll be travelling for work, so I’ll be kicking it to John Walton’s radio feed. JEALOUS?
You on the other hand shall have the services of Chris and Ian here on RMNB.
Crash the net.
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.