Last year's clinching of the Southeast Division crown was, at that point at least, inarguably the season's high point. This year the same achievement doesn't carry nearly the same luster, partially because a failure to win the Southeast this season would have represented a failure of preseason expectations, partially because of the inherent bittersweet quality of taking the title in a game that the team lost, and partially because the simple reality is that this Capitals squad is capable of greater things this season. Nonetheless, consecutive division championships are something to celebrate, as is winning a division that could send three teams to the postseason. So take a moment to stop worrying about the team's defensive miscues and seeming over-reliance on the powerplay to think about what they've accomplished.
Some other thoughts on last night's game:
- Sergei Fedorov, Viktor Kozlov, Brooks Laich, and Tomas Fleischmann combined for two goals and five assists last night. That's the kind of scoring you like to see.
- Our theory on Tim Connolly's early game miss? He was so surprised by the fact the puck got through that he couldn't handle it. Way to mess with their heads, Juice.
- No doubt Viktor Kozlov caught, and will continue to catch, a lot of flak for the puck he put in his own net, but here's the reality of the situation: if you play over 1,000 minutes at the NHL level, you're going to mess up from time to time.
- Kudos to the referees for being willing to call two minor penalties on the same team at the same time. Too often the refs ignore infractions if a team already has a penalty coming. Along those same lines, kudos the the refs for calling a penalty on the Sabres even though the team was already two men down.
- Tom Poti and Milan Jurcina have exactly zero fighting majors between them on the season. Which is also exactly the amount of crap they were willing to take in front of their own net.
- Sergei Fedorov's first goal just may be the prettiest slap shot I've ever seen. Okay, maybe the second prettiest.
- We give Tomas Fleischmann more than enough grief when he's not playing well, and we're going to give him credit when does play well. That diving play to keep the puck in on Fedorov's first goal was a great play.
- First period hits, Alexander Ovechkin: 4. First period hits, Buffalo Sabres: 3.
- If you're going to wear a visor and a plastic jaw protector like Thomas Vanek, why not just wear the fishbowl?
- Brooks Laich's pass to Ovechkin on the Capitals first goal was a thing of beauty.
- The Capitals out-hit the Sabres by a two-to-one ratio, led by Milan Jurcina (five) and Alex Ovechkin (four).
- Simeon Varlamov somehow managed to get himself credited with four giveaways, which was one more than anyone else in the game.
- Another solid night on the dot for Nicklas Backstrom, who was 13-for-18 (72%). Also worth noting: David Steckel was 16-for-21 (76%).
- I don't care what anyone says - Varlamov looked way cooler with a plain white mask.
Unfortunately, despite the point that clinched the division for the Capitals last night the team lost ground to the Devils, who beat Tampa Bay. Fortunately the Capitals, who still control their own destiny when it comes to the conference's second seed, have a good opporunity to keep their lead when the face a weak Atlanta team on Sunday afternoon.