And that, my friends, is why they play the games.
On most nights in the NHL, it's awfully difficult to win without a good effort and a bit of luck. The Caps got more than a little of each last night in Ottawa and snapped their four-game skid in a big way. Some notes on the game:
- The Caps narrowly avoided giving up a goal on the opponent's first shot of the game for the fifth time this sesaon when Olie Kolzig made a great stop on Chris Kelly a mere eight seconds in.
Christoph Schubert is no Anton Volchenkov.
- Count with me the Caps who had their best game of the season last night: Viktor Kozlov, Tomas Fleischmann, Nicklas Backstrom, Olie Kolzig... am I missing anyone?
- The penalty kill was five-for-five including a damn-near heroic effort on a minute-plus of three-on-five time in the second (great use of the timeout during that kill, by the way - Olie was gassed).
- Further to that last point, despite winning only four of fourteen draws, David Steckel is fully deserving of a man-crush - he blocked five shots last night and utilizes his ridiculously long reach sublimely.
- Alex Ovechkin had 10 shots on goal (and another five that didn't make it on goal) and two brilliant defensive plays on the backcheck to go along with his goal and assist. "Slump" over?
- Is it possible that Milan Jurcina actually stinks? I don't think so, but it bears watching. He had a bad giveaway in the first, looked bad on the Daniel Alfredsson goal, and was crushed along the boards a few times by Mike Fisher. He needs to play with more confidence. Jeff Schultz, on the other hand...
- AO's goal last night was his 10th of the season and was scored in the team's 16th game. In his each of his first two years in the League, he reached double digits on November 6, in game number 14.
- Flash's six shots on goal were a career high. Backstrom's one goal was also a career high.
- The Caps are now 2-0-0 in the province of Ontario, outscoring their opponents 11-2. Perhaps they should be the team that moves to Hamilton.
- It was a bad night in the dot, as the Caps won only 21 of 52 (40%) of the game's faceoffs.
- Did Chris Bourque skate a shift once the Caps took the lead? He did have one nice hit in the 5:33 of ice time he did get.
- The Sens rang the iron behind Kolzig on at least two occasions, and misfired on several others (Ottawa was credited with 21 missed shots, three times as many as the Caps). But the Caps were due a break or two, weren't they?
- I'll resist the urge to type "If Viktor Kozlov could put forth that kind of effort every night..." Oops.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Forbes has updated its valuations of the NHL's 30 teams and the Caps are in just about the same place on that list as they are in the standings, but I wouldn't worry about that too much. As I wrote when Forbes compiled the same list last year, the most valuable franchises are those whose owners also own the arenas in which the team plays, co-habitating NBA franchises, etc. Since the Caps are renters and Ted Leonsis et. al. don't yet own the Wiz, it's not surprising that they'd be way down the list. Some day, however, Lincoln Holdings will own the building and the 'Zards, and the Caps will skyrocket up the list.... Boyd Gordon is underrated everywhere but on this blog.... The City Paper has the heart-warming tale of former Cap "Classy" Joe Murphy and his legal woes.... Finally, Nick Backstrom wasn't the only NHLer to get rid of the goose egg in the G column last night - Dainius Zubrus potted his first and second goals of the year in Jersey's win over the Flyers. At this pace, he may get to ten yet!
Hart: Viktor Kozlov (G, 2A, +2, 4 SOG, 2 hits, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways, 67% faceoffs won)
Ross: Viktor Kozlov, Vaclav Prospal, Steven Reinprecht, Ed Jovanovski (3 points each)
Norris: Ed Jovanovksi (Game-winning goal, 2A, +1)
Vezina: Johan Holmqvist (W, 40 saves on 41 shots against)
Richard: Dainius Zubrus, Shane O'Brien, Steven Reinprecht (2G each)
Calder: Carey Price (W, 28 saves on 29 shots against)
Aiken: Marty Turco (L, 5 goals allowed on 31 shots against)