The Capitals got the holiday season off to a merry jingler of a sleigh ride, pounding Tampa Bay start to finish to unwrap a 4-0 victory. You shouldn’t have! I love it, it’s perfect!
Here's Friday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: John Carlson threw his two cents into the Salvation Army kettle, potting two goals for just the second time of his career.
Minus: Some bad turnovers in their own zone continue to plague the Caps’ brightest stars like Evgeny Kuznetsov. Their stars’ games have to be clean at both ends of the ice.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. The Capitals wasted no time getting into the holiday spirit, decking Tampa's halls with boughs of "Golly!" Just fifty-five seconds into the game, John Carlson unloaded a booming stocking-stuffer from above the right circle that ducked under a screening Jay Beagle and into the back of the net. The a-wassailing had begun.
2. Near the end of the first, by which point the Lightning had only recorded a single shot on goal, Captain America took the World War route and figured, "If once was good, why not twice?" Carlson El-Kabong'd a Marcus Johansson assist from the exact same spot as his first, and guaranteed himself a two-goal game for just the second time in his long career. The Caps would head into the first intermission up 2-0.
3. Tom Wilson continued to put the final adjustments into his debut fragrance, "PK Magic, L'Eau de Parfum by Tom Wilson." Wilson was all hustle and a junkyard dog's procreative instincts on the penalty kill, intercepting, penetrating, and defending the Caps against anything Tampa Bay wanted to do. T-Dub made quick, decisive pressure-valve clearances in his own end, and disrupted point-to-point passing lanes to create breakaways the other direction. Disney Pixar already made a movie about the progression of Tom Wilson's game; it's called "Up."
4. There were tons of penalties in this one, including three minors in the first period, but both teams’ shorthanded units won the day. The Capitals' power play went 0-for-2, but Tampa’s went 0-for-3, so...take your victories where you can, I suppose. Like on the scoreboard.
5. The second period had some fun but harmless shenanigans both ways, like an election year hahahahahaohgod. Dmitry Orlov skied a beautiful two-line pass to a lurking Alex Ovechkin, and Ovi went forehand-backhand all alone to finish the most nefarious Russian connection since the one from Moscow to your voting booth.
Alex Ovechkin with some nasty moves on the breakaway pic.twitter.com/ke1hnnlxQw— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 24, 2016
Seriously, the Ovechkin goal was textbook sexy like studying reproductive biology, but check out the assist from Orlov. Damnnnn, Dima!
6. Halfway into the third period, Marcus Johansson was a bad boy, and went to the penalty box for a goaltender interference minor. Upon emerging from his polyurethane prison, like a newborn velociraptor he had one thing on his mind: manflesh. The debutant MoJo received a great heads-up pass from Nicklas Backstrom, and like catching a train from Stockholm to Halmstad, made a lovely Swedish connection. It’s Johansson’s 14th of the season, on pace for a career high. The Lightning pulled starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in favor of a guy with an equally daunting last name but a higher quotient of pencil-thin handlebar mustache, but the damage was done. The Caps would hold on to take the 4-0 victory.
7. Daps and hugs, mean mugs and shoulder shrugs to Braden Holtby, who made 23 saves en route to recording the shutout. It was the Holtbeast’s third shutout of the season, tying him for fourth in the league and putting him two behind league leader Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild. It’s like the Capitals have a sarlacc in net, or some sort of benevolently stingy rancor.
8. Alex Ovechkin scored his 15th goal of the season, putting him one ahead of the Capitals second-most prolific scorer, Marcus Johansson. The Great 8 is currently on pace for....*gulp* fewer than 40 goals for the first time since the lockout-shortened ‘12-’13 season. But let’s give that some sexy, pants-dropping context: the fewest goals Ovechkin has EVER scored in a season is 32. He HAS NEVER BEEN a sub-30-goal scorer in his entire career. Hell, he scored 52 his rookie season, and once scored 65 in a single season. Ovechkin’s offensive problems this season are real and serious, but it’s a bit like having a fully automatic assault rifle that will only fire on semi-auto. It’s still the deadliest weapon on the block.
9. Today, December 23rd, is Festivus! And the Capitals really went all out for, going so far as to host an Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength around a Festivus Pole during the second intermission. You ever look up at the sky and wonder if we are the alternate timeline?
There is a literal Festivus feats of strength and a pole happening at center ice pic.twitter.com/R0SJG9ewAR— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) December 24, 2016
10. I really and truly hope each and every one of you has a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, and a season of love and togetherness with your friends and family and people you love. You make doing this awesome, and I’m taking this second to say thanks for letting me do it. Happy Holidays, everyone!
The Capitals roll down ice to a 4-0 victory, and unwrap an early Christmas present for the hometown fans. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and we’ll see the Caps on Tuesday in Brooklyn against the Islanders!