There was no shortage of story lines coming into the Caps' last game action before taking a three day holiday hiatus. There was Bruce Boudreau's return to the Verizon Center. There was Mathieau Perreault's return to the Verizon Center. There was Phillip Grubauer's stellar play balancing Braden Holtby on the other end of the spectrum. There was Alex Ovechkin's torrid goalscoring, and Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf's equally impressive production. The table was decorated nicely. How would the meal taste?
Like Christmas ham crap. It was Bruce Boudreau earning two points in a place where he's done it so many times before, with a late third period goal from Hampus Lindholm lifting the Ducks to victory.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Mired in something of a possession slump, the Caps came in to tonight hoping to earn positive possession numbers for the first time in seven games. Well, they came looking to win, regardless how that outcome might be achieved, but you know. As it went, the Caps came away with neither the possession victory, or the two points. But their possesion numbers were respectable, only a few Corsi events behind, so we have that, right?
- Miserable media wretches in Canada and other, uh, anti-Ovechkin parts of the country, have a penchant for isolating Ovechkin's low assist totals as supposed evidence for his selfishness, puck-hoggedness, or any other number of synonyms. Ovechkin's first period surprise pass through the crease that was somehow tapped wide not only drew a penalty, but was also an example of the affliction that has plagued Ovechkin through his career, and has led to these types of unfair conclusions. That affliction? Lack of finish from the benefactors of his passing.
- My goodness, how about that exchange between Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer leading to a 1-0 lead for the good guys? Almost reminded you of something you might have seen during those Boudreau years, huh? And the player components of that play? One Boudreau-era draft pick. One Boudreau-era trade acquisition. One guy who never played for him. Neat.
- When Nicklas Backstrom has the puck on his stick, good things tend to happen. Usually that manifests on the end of a pass, but on the Caps' second power play of the first period, he ripped a wrister short side on Jonas Hiller to give the Capitals the "most dangerous lead in hockey"...and one the Capitals are well-versed in relinquishing this week...
- Haranguing the Ducks' top scoring duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf is no small task, even for the stoutest of hearts. But tonight, the Caps' third line of Joel Ward, Martin Erat, and Jason Chimera, as well as John Carlson and Karl Alzner were up to the task. Pretty nice night for that bunch...well, until they were all on the ice for the game winning goal against, that is, though it's worth noting Brooks Laich and not Martin Erat was on the ice for that one.
- In keeping with the spirit of Mike Green's tumultuous season, he was on the ice for a first period Andrew Cogliano goal that might be described as, well, tumultuous. A lot of flailing on that goal from the Green and Dmitry Orlov, as well as from their forward mates. A lot of flailing yields a lot of failing, and the ugly goal halved the Caps two goal lead late in the first.
- So it can't possibly be coincidence that Troy Brouwer's career best 4-game assist streak (and throw a goal in there for good measure) comes on the heels of his being joined on the second line by Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr, can it? Given Brouwer's start to the season, this stretch of production from The Big Lebrouwski might be the closest thing we get to empirical proof that Mikhail Grabovski is literally capable of anything. But that's reductive, and both Brouwer and Fehr deserve due credit for their considerable contributions of late.
- Koivu, Saku capitalized on yet another suspect defensive effort from the Mike Green/Dmitry Orlov pairing to tie the game at 2 with less than a minute left in the second period. It was the third time in their past three periods of hockey that Adam Oates and Calle Johansson's Capitals blew a two goal lead. Combined with the score-a-goal-allow-a-goal phenomenon (which has blessedly not reared its ugly head for a few games), that's a pair of awfully ugly trends.
- Even though Adam Oates has proclaimed that Braden Holtby is still his guy (as he should be), with every game it becomes evident that Phillip Grubauer, at the very least, has the toolbox to be an effective goaltender at a professional worksite. Not a bad outing for the youngster against an elite offense, and having to kill off a handful of penalties besides.
- You had to know that only two goals wouldn't be enough to put away one of the most potent squads in the league. You also might have thought that the team that has scored three goals in a single period more than any other team in the league might be able to muster a single goal after the first stanza. Uhg.