This Caps fan has tonight lost his voice from shouting at the meh-definition signal from Comcast SportsNet Plus. You can’t blame me; the Washington Capitals had a lot to shout about last night. For forty minutes it seemed like the defensemen were not equal to the task and the offense were offensively inert. The Caps, leading the Southeast division, somehow trailed the Oilers, bottom of the Northwest, by two goals going into the 3rd period. Snowbound Caps fans across the east coast buttressed themselves for another pathetic loss to a Canadian team.
And then Alexander Ovechkin showed up. The world’s best hockey player and the man my girlfriend calls “Ovenchicken” performed a hero’s task in Edmonton last night, singlehandedly pulling the boys from F Street out of a two-goal deficit. After one determined stuff manuever and another sick Ovechkian angle goal off a rebound, the Caps had renewed life. Flash and Backstrom put the nail in the coffin, and all was right in the world again: Caps beat Oilers 4-2.
- CSN+ has a terrible signal. The first five minutes of ice time were tinged Viagra blue, and this Caps fan couldn’t discern Laing’s 53 from Green’s 52 for most of the game. Over the airwaves, Joe Beninati‘s exotic tie patterns read like some kind of vomitous fever dream.
- Karl Alzner‘s masterful deflection into his own goal may be the punctuation at the end of his time in the NHL. His D pairing with Tyler Sloan (-1 plus/minus for the season) was particularly incompetent last night, but his kick into our own net was unforgivable. Hershey may be a better fit for his hijinx. Am I being unfair? Let me know in the comments below.
- I can’t single out Alzner, as the whole defensive effort was pathetic last night. The Oilers’ offensive tactics were eerily similar to Boudreau’s Caps, what with the dumping and chasing and moving behind the goal line. Our defense was unable to chase down loose pucks behind the blue and clear it out, and that made those two soft goals against Neuvirth possible.
- Jeff Schultz is on my list, too. His careless pass at center ice led to a breakaway goal for the Oilers – one night after this terrible miscue. At least when Mike Green pulled that same nonsense a few weeks ago, he had the good sense to follow it up with a make-up goal.
- Alexander Ovechkin‘s 3rd period illustrated everything we love about the caveman. I don’t know what Bruce Boudreau said in the locker room at the 2nd intermission, but Alex definitely heard it. His goals owed as much to grit as they did talent, and he pulled the rest of the team up with him. Last night demonstrated once again why Capitals hockey is the most exciting hockey in the league.
- But Steve Staios is paste-eating crazy. Several times the Oiler’s PK man jumped in front of Ovie’s lightning-fast slappers like he was the Edmontonian Quentin Laing or something. This guy deserves a lot of credit for neutering the Caps’ powerplay last night.
- Was the Caps top line (“The Tiger Beat line”) -2 in the first 40 minutes of the game? Yikes.
- Tomas Fleischmann‘s go-ahead goal was exemplary, but he followed it immediately with a lazy penalty. If that’s not a microcosm of the Caps fatal flaw, I don’t know what is.
- If your hockey team cannot convert 1:51 of 5-on-3 into a goal, you’re not worthy of Lord Stanley’s Cup. I attribute this failure to Edmonton’s fantastic PK unit as much as our own incompetence. Either way, this is the second time this season our boys have struggled with completion anxiety across multiple games. Let’s hope we get our groove back against Buffalo.
- Spongebob Squarepants Hilary Duff was at the game last night. For the record, Russian Machine prefers Miley Cyrus.
So I imagine by now the boys have landed in D.C. and are finding their respective homes buried under two feet of snow. If I hear about Mike Green or Alexander Semin spraining their backs while shoveling snow, I’m going to flip out. Stay mellow, watch The Jersey Shore, and drink a gingerbread latte. Three day’s rest is a fair reward for a successful trip to the tundra.