The Washington Capitals have done nothing to prove that they're capable of winning regularly against quality opponents this year. After losses against two of the Eastern Conference’s best in the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, the road wasn’t going to get much easier as they crossed the wintry border, warmed their hands with a cup o’ Tim Horton’s, and prepared to take on the division leading Winnipeg Jets, who were looking for revenge after being shutout by Braden Holtby the last time they met.
But after lighting the lamp in the first period, the Caps would only need a solid performance from Holtby to secure the ‘W’, and they got it in the form of a second consecutive shutout. It was Holtby's fourth of the year, tying him with Mike Smith for second most in the league.
Ten more notes on the game:
- First and foremost, welcome back Mike Green. As a fanbase, we’re growing nearly as accustomed to the "welcome back" game as we are to lamenting Greenie's absence. It’s always nice to see 52's smooth skating, puck-movement, and all around offensive impact, just as all those things are noticeably absent when he’s gone. Greenie looked good in 21:46 of ice time— good enough for second highest on the team behind John Carlson— and to the best of our knowledge, his groin remains in tact.
- Before the game, the team announced that Joey Crabb will be put on waivers tomorrow at noon. That’s what happens when you face easy minutes, and get slaughtered by them. It’s also what happens when the team begins to get healthy, which brings us to the next point…
- Tonight’s roster, with Mike Green, Brooks Laich, and Dmitry Orlov all in the lineup for the first time this season, is as close to the opening day vision as it’s yet been. So far, the results have been pleasant, wouldn’t you say?
- The overall record might not look good, but the Capitals are now 8-3 in the division— a mark that continues to keep their season afloat in spite of, uh, deficiencies in other areas. Such as winning outside the division, for instance...
- Joe B and Locker did the service of informing us before the game that the trio of Wheeler, Ladd, and Kane, were responsible for more than half of Winnipeg’s total offense on the year. Keeping those gentlemen silent to the tune of 1 cumulative shot played no small part in the result of this one.
- You had to like the way a Laich-Ribeiro-Brouwer line looked on paper. Sure didn’t take them long, as Brouwer whipped a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec before the game was four minutes old. It was Brouwer’s 11th on the season, continuing the best offensive campaign of his career. The goal, by the way, came after Brouwer forced a neutral zone turnover. Beaut’ of a shift.
- Three goals in four games for Marcus Johansson. How ‘bout them horsemeat-free Swedish meatballs?
- No one ever called Steve Oleksy a coward. That’s because he’s not one. Oleksy dropped the mitts with James Wright after Wright took offense to a bit of, uh, basic contact behind the Washington net towards the end of the first period. Nevermind that Wright has four inches on Oleksy, he’s got a face for punching and that’s good enough for Sexy Oleksy. Good bout, and we’ll use our hometown authority to declare Oleksy the victor. So…what’s Aaron Volpatti’s role on this team again?
- Even with Mike Green back in the lineup, it was John Carlson manning the blue line with Alex Ovechkin on the powerplay. Hm…more on this here.
- Speaking of Alex, his third period powerplay tally placed him firmly in the league lead for that category. It was also his third goal in three games, and a three point night for the Great Eight. All's silent on the Milbury front...
If the Caps have any genuine hope of making the playoffs— and judging by their postgame comments each night, they do— they're going to need to turn out efforts like this one night after night, and hope for help from above, which they're currently getting. Carolina dropped their fifth straight, and the Rangers wrote the next chapter in their underwhelming campaign with a loss to the Florida Panthers, leaving the Capitals five points out of eighth.
It's not an easy climb, but crazier things have happened, and with a bolstered lineup, perhaps there's reason for a crescent of optimism. Or perhaps it was just a game well played amidst a season that will continue in its relative misery. Whatever it is, we won't have to wait long to check out the next installment, as the Jets and Caps tangle horns again tomorrow.