It was two days before Christmas 2006 when a 21 year old named Troy Brouwer played his first NHL game. He got four shifts that night for a total of less than three minutes. He didn’t play at all after the first period.
(He had a minus-one corsi differential that night, which I think someone should tell him. He’ll get a kick out of that.)
Four-hundred ninety-nine games later, Troy Brouwer has joined the 500 club. He did it in style with two goals. Longevity is laudable enough in this league, but Brouwer has scored 126 goals with 28 game-winners, won a Stanley Cup, danced Gangnam Style, and captured the imaginations of two seriously demented hockey fans.
Troy Brouwer is, in a word, awesome.
Here are some more awesome things in our world this week.
Between that tight win over Philadelphia on January 14th and Tuesday night’s rout of the Kings, the Capitals lost six times. Every game since the Philly win is above– with goaltending in red and possession in blue.
Going by the tilt of the ice, those weren’t bad games; they just had some bad goaltending. Once the stars aligned, as they did versus Pittsburgh and LA, the Capitals were dominant.
So those losses weren’t really anything to despair about. I hope the Caps are taking the right messages away from this.
Green’s big hit on Clifford sure was awesome. Direct yourself to the top-right corner of this photo by Alex Brandon from AP. Actually, I’ll do it for you.
Once more, please. Quadrant mulgrew bakula zeta niner.
Like Kim Deal, all smiles and intensity– appropriate for Green’s mondo hit. Here’s fifty thousand watts of good will!
With just two exceptions, Eric Fehr, Brooks Laich, and Joel Ward have played together since the 28th of November– a span of 30 games. Though slowly and slightly improving, they’re not owning the puck during 5v5, but as a shutdown line they’ve been stupendous.
Here’s the Vollman player usage chart for Caps forwards since the end of November, generated by War on Ice:
Laich, Ward, and Fehr are at the left because they’re taking lots of defensive zone shifts. They’re at the top because they’re playing against good players. And they’re in blue because they’re playing well compared to how the team does without them.
Over the weekend Pierre McGuire called this the best third line in the NHL and excuse me I’ve gotta go shower in bleach because we agree.
This line is awesome.
I don’t know what Aaron Volpatti‘s nine minutes and three seconds on Tuesday night tell us. After a season playing in the dregs of the Oates!Caps, you could be forgiven for not wanting to see more out of Volpatti.
But since then we’ve seen every single Capitals forward improve– many of them drastically. Since then we’ve learned that Aaron Volpatti was playing with a pretty serious neck injury. And since then we’ve lightened up a bit too.
Aaron Volpatti played a good game on Tuesday night (6 Caps shot attempts to 4 by LA, one penalty drawn) after nearly a year on the shelf. I hope we see more of him. He might have some fight in him yet.
As long as he doesn’t actually fight fight. I’m still worried about that neck. Other than that: awesome.
Washington’s franchise goalie has saved 98.8 percent of the shots he’s seen in his last three starts– all but one of the last 84. He’s been perfect for the last nine regulation periods.
But before that, he went three games without peeking over a replacement-level .867 save percentage. To me that means Holtby can shake off a mini-slump and come back better, the kind of trait we usually ascribe to veterans.
There’s a calculating coolness to Holtby that should inspire confidence– and maybe awe– in his teammates. His numbers alone should do that, and then he says stuff like this:
“I hope I never reach the top of my game.”
Are you kidding me? That’s some next-level zen stuff. That’s some Way of the Peaceful Warrior stuff. That’s some sound-of-one-hand-high-fiving stuff.
I don’t know who’s in charge of starting the conversation about the Vezina or the Hart. Probably someone with a checkmark next to his (and you know it’s a guy) twitter handle. In any case, lemme offer this: That Holtby guy sure is a good goalie. He seems mighty valuable to his team. He’s pretty awesome.
Follow me for a second.
Thus it is proven: every other game, Alex Ovechkin does something bonkers. On Thursday the Caps play the Senators, the 9th worst team in the league at 5v5 shot suppression and 5th worst at staying off the penalty kill. Thursday should be awesome.
Bonus: Uhh… the Metro is getting pretty tight.
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