Like a lame bachelorette party, this one didn’t have many shots. But great teams have to be able to win any way the night calls for, and tonight the Capitals got it done with defense, heading home with a shiny (and equally valuable) 1-0 win in their pockets.
Here's Thursday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Braden Holtby is now your standalone NHL shutout leader with 8!
Minus: Pity the paying fans who forked over good money to watch a joyless chess match between meatheads for sixty minutes.
And now, this..
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Tonight was Military Appreciation Night at Verizon Center, and the Caps took part by sporting camouflage jerseys in warm-ups that were auctioned off, with the proceeds supporting military families. At least, I assume they were wearing camouflage jerseys; I couldn’t see them.
2. Speaking of appreciation, the Caps had two special jumbotron tributes keyed up early in the first period. The first, for Barry Trotz’s 700th NHL victory, drew raucous applause from the D.C. faithful. The second, welcoming Kevin Shattenkirk into the fold like a newborn assassin, was greeted with a particularly enthusiastic ovation.
3. Okay, look. The story in this game is that there wasn’t much story, if you’re more of a plot-driven person and less into slow-burning, longform character development. Stupid Millennials and their short attention spans! At the halfway point of this game ten minutes through the second period, the Devils had 7 shots, the Capitals 10. New Jersey didn’t crack double digits until a quarter of the way through the third. This was not a barn burner. This was a farmhouse freezer.
4. The first real fireworks of note came with five minutes left in the second period, as apple-cheeked Dmitry Orlov took exception to some rough stuff by the bench from Joseph Blandisi. Blandisi and Orlov dropped the gloves - well, Orlov never quite got his off, poor boychik - and the two went at it like fighting cocks. When all was said and done, both went to the box for five minutes apiece, and Dmitry had his first career NHL fight. Mazel tov, Dima!
5. The very first goal of the night wouldn’t happen until we were halfway through the final period. With the Capitals on the power play, Cute Boy Wonder and Wünderwinger Jakub Vrana curled around the front of the net powerfully, delayed, and beat Cory Schneider under the armpit to give the Caps the 1-0 lead. It was Vrana’s 2nd career NHL goal, and hopefully another stepping stone in many, many, manymanymany to come. Clap it up for your 2017-2018 Washington Capitals starting third-line winger, folks.
6. And believe it or not, that would be it for the scoring at both ends. Ring up another two points for the NHL-leading Washington Capitals!
7. The Caps’ penalty kill was perfect, while the power play did its job, going 1-for-4. Solid stuff, boys.
8. While the mites dazzled during the first intermission, the real stars were the USA Warriors Hockey players who put on a shootout skills demonstration in the second intermission. These badass veterans and veteran badasses deked and dived, including one participant whose skates were attached to two prosthetic legs. Awesome stuff, and thank you, sincerely, for your service.
9. In what must be the easiest shutout of Braden Holtby’s career, Mr. FlexSeal saved 15 shots for his 8th clean slate of the season and sole possession of the NHL shutout lead.
10. The Caps now have 93 points on the season, and are running away from the Metro like flammable commuters.
This game wasn’t the prettiest, and it wasn’t the flashiest, and it wasn’t the best, but darn it, people like it! Next up is the Flyers at home on Saturday.