You know how sometimes when one team is coming off of a back-to-back, the second game can be sloppy, ugly, and a blowout? Well, that happened tonight. Except the lost-looking team was the Capitals, as the visiting New York Islanders downed them 3-0 in a game that was close for a while, and then wasn’t even.
Here's Thursday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Jakub Vrana, the most anticipated prospect since you told your dog “if you’re a good boy we’ll go to the park,” lived up to the hype even if he didn’t score. More on him below.
Minus: Dmitry Orlov, on whom I have good and properly harped and for which I am now eating crow, had a game he would just as soon forget, just about single-handedly giving up two goals. More on him below, as well.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- The big story line coming into this game - besides the fact that, holy crap, there is still a team whose logo is literally just Long Island - was the NHL debut of Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana. Vrana, long-touted like Ron Jeremy, got the special rookie treatment in warm-ups, being allowed to take a lap by his lonesome when the team took the ice. Vrana would impress throughout, recording multiple scoring chances and looking more like a polished asset than a seat-of-the-pants rookie.
2. Shouts out to the unsung heroes this game, as third-and-fourth-liners Brett Connolly, Tom Wilson, and Daniel Winnik were noticeably effective, flying all over the ice and creating havoc as low-liners are wont and expected to do. Speaking specifically of Tom Wilson, I'm personally shocked at how much more visibly involved he is this season. To be frank, I'd all but written him off as the spoken-in-whispers, capital B "Bust." Wilson sure seems like something in his game has been thoroughly re-juved, and things like his breakaway scoring chance on the penalty kill tonight are becoming all the more common. Witness the #Wilsonaissance.
3. In the second period, nogoodnik dirty gangster thug Cal Clutterbuck (tag him, SB Nation. I WANT him to know) leveled a defenseless Justin Williams in open ice in what I can only imagine is literally THE embedded video clip they show aspiring referees when describing "Hits to the Head," "Leaving His Feet," and "Defenseless Player." Williams was okay, and returned to the game, but...I mean, seriously. Get bent, pal.
4. Speaking of Williams, the wily vet (is there any higher or more casually tossed-about compliment?) did everything in Mama's cabinet but score tonight. In fact, he had a buzzer-beating goal in the first waved off as being about 0.2 seconds too late. Still, his line of himself, Connolly, and Eller dominated possession tonight, and were absolutely positively a plus in Trotz's mind. Even if...you know...they didn't score. Which, come to think of it, Big T-Rotz might've preferred.
5. Five minutes into the third frame, the scoring drought finally broke. But alas, it was the Bad Guys who broke up, with New York jumping out to a 1-0 lead. Dmitry Orlov straight up played the fool, giving up the zone on a dribbler along the boards, then misplaying the clearing move to give up an easy 2-on-0 breakaway that led to the Shane Prince goal. It's a bad look that's becoming a tired story with Orlov. And I say that as one of his biggest advocates early on in the season.
Dmitry Orlov gets stripped at the blue line and the Islanders take the 1-0 lead pic.twitter.com/X7GEQXCZSG— Ian Oland (@ianoland) December 2, 2016
6. Then, five minutes later and halfway through the third, Brock Nelson, the man voted in high school Most Likely to Actually Be the Secret Identity of a Super Hero, put one home that was....yeesh, also Dmitry Orlov's fault.
7. Aaaaand then, because life is naught but suffering an unending indignity, Jason Chimera, your #OldBae and mine, roofed a beauty backhand over Nate Schmidt's stick and Braden Holtby's blocker to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead.
8. That would be enough, team Damn Yankees would win, and the Islanders would escape DC with an unexpected two points.
9. The Caps’ special teams were decidedly unspecial, like your untalented son’s latest macaroni artwork. The penalty kill did fine, killing both chances, but the power play went 0-for-6. Oh-for-SIX! That’s awful and terrible and the type of thing that sinks the ship. They need to get this figured out.
10. I mean, I guess Washington is still 13-7-2, but....this is a bad, bad look. This is the type of loss that spawns thinkpieces that begin, “The Washington Capitals Aren’t Actually That Good...” I don’t want that. You don’t want that.
Time to right the ship, Barry. Let’s see where the Capitals go from here. Next up is the Lightning in Tampa on Saturday.