It’s been an interesting last couple of games for the Washington Capitals, who, after stealing two points in Buffalo, suffered the repercussions of karmatic point distribution when they had a sure second point plucked from their grubby little hands two nights later against the Philadelphia Flyers.
But points are points, and whether they come in the form of wins or overtime losses, they’ve helped the Caps climb back into immediate postseason contention for what feels like the hundredth time this season (with no small aid from around the conference recently). Tonight’s matchup with Carolina was the biggest of the year, as the winner of the bout would claw to within one point of eight place in the conference, and two points of the division leading Winnipeg Jets, while boasting two games in hand.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Hours before puck drop, the Capitals executed a surprising roster move, sending both Dmitry Orlov and Tomas Kundratek to Hershey. Scratching Orlov was a headscratcher in its own right, and with Kundratek healthy, the expectation was that he’d be getting his red sweater back soon, not a brown one. Considering where Orlov and Kundratek have measured up compared to some of the other blueliners, here’s to hoping the move is about as permanent as a finger drawing in window condensation.
- Speaking of the D, welcome back to big John Erskine who was a last minute addition to the lineup in favor of Jeff Schultz. Erskine skated a modest 13:32, and his most notable moment of the game was when he took a puck to the face, but he finished with an even rating, and we're glad to see the big man get back out there.
- On the Canes’ first goal, Jiri Tlusty was sandwiched between Mike Green and Jason Chimera, who swatted the puck into his own net. It was a bit of spicy mustard on the turd sandwhich that was Mike Green’s first period, and, frankly, Jason Chimera’s— who now has now put as many goals into his own net as he has into the opponent’s— entire season.
- But the second period started a little bit better for our beloved bearded blueliner, when he furthered his relationship with that left post, and fired the puck on net on the powerplay. Mike Ribeiro guided it into the net to tie the game at two. Later in the period, Green would pick a corner at five asides, tying the game yet again. First period gaffes forgiven, Greeny. Keep the ol’ groin stretched out, k? Thx.
- I could have spent all ten bullets talking about Alex Ovechkin if I wanted. Because he’s awesome. His first period (even strength) goal extended his point streak to nine games, and vaulted him into the top 5 goal scorers in the league. His second goal, coming in the third period, tied him with Troy Brouwer for the team lead in even strength markers, with eight. And, if you go ahead and shave off that ugly 2 goal in 10 games start, Ovechkin would be on pace for 57 goals in an 82 game season. Sick. Unbelievable.
- Shoddy penalty killing is something Caps fans are plenty used to this year, as Washington came into the game at a grimace-worthy 27th PK ranking in the league. It wouldn’t get much better, despite facing the worst powerplay in the league. Said worst powerplay in the league would score in their first two chances, sinking the Caps even further into the cesspit. If they’re going to make (and compete in) the postseason, that’s going to need some attention. (Though credit where credit is due, they came up with a big kill in the third).
- Congrats to Nicklas Backstrom on career points 399, 400, 401, and 402, putting him at greater than a point-per-game producer through 401 career games. With 4 points for Backstrom, 2 goals for Ovechkin, and 2 more points for Mike Green, the scoresheet read awfully like a Boudreau era ledger, huh?
- Joel Ward’s shorthanded goal ended the streak of futility we highlighted in today’s Noon Number. Okay, what should we jinx next?
- Well wishes to Joni Pitkanen, whose writhing on the ice in anguish and being carted off after winning an icing race against Troy Brouwer is plenty argument for the installation of no-touch, or at least hybrid icing.
- Ovechkin missed his fourth empty net of the season on a block by Alex Semin. Damn, but how sweet would those four extra goals look on his score sheet right about now?
With Winnipeg dropping their fourth in a row to the New York Islanders, the final Southeast division title and a third seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs, is a real possibility— especially with the Caps having two games in their pocket. Tomorrow's trade deadline ought to make for a solid day of anticipatory nerves and sweaty palms, but with the Caps in the thick of things and playing their best hockey of the year, a trip to the shopping mall is more like than a yard sale at the McPhee Estate.