Tonight the Washington Capitals played game 2 of their 82 regular season journey against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The story lines were there, but irrelevant. Does victory assuage the pain of last Spring(s)? No. As Guy Boucher said, last year was the end of a process. This season is the beginning of a new process. The Caps weren't good enough to win a Stanley Cup tonight, but it doesn't matter. The Caps weren't bad enough to end their season, and that, too, doesn't matter. So let us fans, as the team must, focus on the process that will hopefully lead to a less familiar final day of the season. Let's not ride the roller-coaster, but focus on those aspects, effort, communication, systematic execution... and accountability, that will lead to success in the end.
Ten more notes on the game:
- It's a new season, it's a new process, but man did things look the same during large parts of this game. The Caps opened the game as they left last season... with own goals and self-inflicted wounds.
- The team has talked about accountability, and nobody got a better taste of the new standard than Marcus Johansson. After sitting out the opener, he was one of the best Caps tonight. He was creating problems for Tampa's defense all night, drawing penalties, and getting pucks to the net. Message received, it would appear (or maybe he wasn't the problem on the top line).
- Immediately out of the gate to start the Second, the top line gave Bruce Boudreau another chance to demonstrate his new brand of accountability. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Knuble had one of the worst shifts you'll ever see in an NHL game. Then the top line sat a couple shifts and came back with their best shift of the night.
- And then promptly wasted a 5-on-3 by standing around watching each other. When Mike Green finally moved down through the slot he opened a shot for Ovechkin, which was blasted wide, resulting in a Pavel Kubina breakaway and Backstrom's slashing penalty. Well... nice hustle Nick?
- There aren't many players that I enjoy watching more than Martin St. Louis. But I have to say, I like watching him so much better with Karl Alzner right in his face.
- Speaking of Alzner, he had himself a fine night as well. He was using snarl, drew a penalty, and was a big part of the reason St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were so quiet.
- The first five goals were the product of hustle and simple play. They were scored by lines 2-4. Once again, Chimera/Laich/Ward was the best line for the Caps, but tonight the second and fourth lines took a page out of their book and had some success.
- Tomas Vokoun didn't have his best game, but that shouldn't have come as a surprise and it's a long season. Two goals beat him inside the post from behind the goal line. Perhaps Vokoun (and his agent) will understand if Michal Neuvirth gets the next one.
- Dennis Wideman showed that puck skill and mobility that GMGM envisioned when he acquired him. It's amazing that with tonight's goal he has already tied his even strength goal production from all of last season.
- At the end of the night the top lines from each team, almost all the big names, ended up with zero points. Call me a homer, but I'll say the Caps were responsible for both ends of that equation.
The game was up, down, and sloppy. The coaches probably hated it, but it was fun for fans. We've seen signs of new accountability, and signs of old failures. But the picture isn't substantially different than it was before this game, and through two soft goals, an own goal, two Too Many Men penalties and an 0/7 Power Play performance, the Caps end up with two points via the shootout. So they got that going for them, which is nice.