With the Olympic break right around the corner, with injuries throughout the Capitals lineup giving the lines a sort of pre-seasonish look, against an old division rival (but now other-conference strangers), in early February, this one had all the makings of a snoozer. But hey, Secretary of State John Kerry was in the house, so that's pretty cool. In any event, the Capitals came into night trailing in the race for a wildcard spot by a meager 3 points,
In the end, it was a game of a first NHL points and also points of the league-leading variety, and it saw a 4-2 victory go in favor of Washington.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Despite Michal Neuvirth playing exceedingly well in the three consecutive starts he received prior to tonight, it was Braden Holtby between the pipes, due to an unspecified illness on Neuvirth's part. You can hardly blame Holtby for the first goal against, kicked in by his own guy, or for the second one for that matter. In fact, Holts was pretty stout tonight, facing 35 shots and taking care of all the one's he needed to. But you could have guessed that right? Because whenever it looks like Michael Neuvirth might have an opportunity to secure his spot in the crease, well, something happens to loosen his hold.
- In the early goings Holtby had to make a fantastic save on a wide open chance from Olli Jokinen in the slot. There were three Caps around the puck in the moments leading up to the chance: Patrick Wey, Julien Brouillette, and Casey Wellman. Yeah. It's like that right now.
- Speaking of Brouillette, tonight was the 27 year old defenseman's NHL debut. Besides putting up respectable possession numbers, Julian notched his first NHL assist and point, smartly banking a point shot off the back boards, earning a tasty rebound that found the stick of Tom Wilson— 8 years his junior— who stashed it. Nice first game for JB59...especially when you consider the daily product of those he's likely replacing. Bonus points to Brouillette sharing your first NHL point with your defensive partner, Patrick Wey.
- How about that sweet, sweet backhanded Swedish dish from Marcus Johansson to Troy Brouwer to open the scoring in the game's fifth minute. And a tip of the hat to Casey Wellman who picked up his first assist on the season on the play with some nice work behind the net. It was Brouwer's second even strength goal in his last three outings, after scoring only 5 such in the 53 games before that. Keep it up, Troy. Please. (He kept it up— putting the nail in the coffin with his second of the night late in the third, to give the Caps a two goal lead.)
- John Carlson passed his bench boss Calle Johansson for consecutive games played by a Washington Capital defenseman, with 272. Way to go, Carly. These are dark days for one George McPhee, but Real American Hero John Carlson is one draft pick he hit out of the stadium.
- And it was John Carlson and his pal Karl Alzner on the ice when Brian Little tied the game at one— or rather Martin Erat kicked the puck into his own net. Well, when you can't score 'em on one end...
- Connor Carrick and Dmitry Orlov, despite boasting a combined 49 games of NHL experience between them, comprised the entirety of the Capitals' second defensive pairing. And they sure looked every bit as inexperienced, leaving Dustin Byfuglien the entire middle of the offensive zone, with time to pick a corner on Braden Holtby to give the Jets a 2-1 lead (and Marcus Johansson didn't do much to help). But at this point, with the state of the blue line the way it is, it's tough to be surprised at these kind of breakdowns anymore.
- After a 3 PPG on Super Bowl Sunday against the Red Wings, it looked like the Capitals may have broken free of a length power play slump. The 0-10 (and looking damn ugly in the doing) has determined that is a lie.
- Number 40 for Alex Ovechkin, who got a + on the play and probably sweated some too. Make sure you come back from Sochi with some of those still in your pocket, Mr. Ovechkin.
- Hey, look, the Caps scored four goals. You know what that means. (And it probably helps that they managed to not give any of them back inside 2 minutes of scoring)