When the NHL schedule was released this past summer, one could circle this early November weekend - one that started with a visit from the Bruins and finished up with Philly in town - as an early measuring stick for a Stanley Cup hopeful. Now that the weekend is over - and the Caps are four points richer in the standings - it's pretty clear that they measure up rather nicely indeed.
Unlike the Caps' past two games, Sunday's 3-2 win didn't feature a blown lead. In fact, the Caps didn't lead the game at all until the final buzzer. But what the game did showcase was one of the more solid sixty-minute efforts of the season, all in front of a 21-year-old goalie making his first NHL start.
Ten more notes on the game:
Braden Holtby was very solid on the night, making every save he should have made (ok, maybe reasonable minds could differ on that first goal) and one or two that you wouldn't expect a guy with his relative inexperience to get to. Watching him play is a bit more unnerving than watching old man Michal Neuvirth, but certainly fun on nights like this.
- The Caps' power-play is currently on fire, scoring multiple times in three of the last four games (going 7-for-17 over that span), and scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals on Sunday. Think that has something to do with getting Mike Green back in the lineup?
- That said, watching Green pass up shots and favor wristers over slappers until the final few minutes of the game, it's hard to think that his bum shoulder is back to 100%. Obviously, it's something to keep an eye on. Of course, with goals in four straight and a game-best Corsi rating tonight, whatever he's got goin' on is workin'.
- Sticking with the Caps' two-time Norris finalist, perhaps the Flyers' two most-dangerous scorers - Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter - saw an awful lot of Green and Jeff Schultz on the night... and were held off the scoresheet (save for a minor penalty for each).
- I don't know how things work in the KHL, but over here, "Play shall not be stopped ... by reasons of adjustments to ... equipment.... For an infringement of this rule, a minor penalty shall be given." Sergei Bobrovsky got away with one in the second.
- How many players in the NHL can gather a rebound and have the presence, poise and ability to execute the pass that Nicklas Backstrom made on Alexander Semin's second-period tally? Backstrom's evening featured a couple of primary power-play helpers and a 16-for-26 night in the dot.
- Caps pivots not named Tomas Fleischmann combined to win 62.7% of the game's face-offs. (Flash was 3-for-10, including a dangerous 0-for-3 in the defensive zone.)
Eric Fehr's snipe in the first period was a beauty (and broke a nine-game goal-less drought). But his power move to the goal later on might have been even more heart-warming to Caps fans who want to see more of what he was doing so successfully last season, and less of the wrist shots from outside.
- At times, Mike Knuble looks close to busting out of his slump in a big way. At other times, he just looks old. On Green's game-winner, however, he looked perfect - screening Bobrovsky and watching the puck fly by and in. Karma earned him a helper on that one.
- The Flyers were playing the second of back-to-back games (and the third in four nights), but you wouldn't know if from the hit totals, as they out-hit the Caps 30-17. More indicative of who the fresher team was, however, were the shot totals - the Caps attempted 74 shots (39 of which ended up on goal), while Philly attempted just 49 (25 of which were on goal). That's pretty lopsided.
And so the Caps' three-game homestand ends with three wins. They weren't all pretty, but they were all worth two points, and they each demonstrated how good a team this can be... and usually is.