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With notable names missing from the line-up, Washington wanted to distance themselves from their rivals the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
They would not be successful.
Here’s Sunday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Rookie Travis Boyd earned his first career NHL point tonight! CHERISH THAT PUCK, YOUNG MAN.
Minus: Andre Burakovsky committed several turnovers so egregious, he’s being investigated for treason.
And now, this...
Found the Caps game plan in the elevator. pic.twitter.com/NOG4ZOvfPL— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) March 18, 2018
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After dropping the New York Islanders in back-to-back contests like curving your toxic ex who tried to get back in your life, would the Capitals come to play against fellow Metropolitan Division rival the Philadelphia Flyers? Philly had struggled of late, and a postseason meeting between these two teams grows in probability each day.
2. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer got the nod in net tonight, playing in his 4th start in 5 games. Would he continue to fuel a little baby goalie controversy in DC, or would he regress to being....well, average?
3. The Capitals’ lineup looked significantly different tonight. Out with injuries were Evgeny Kuznetsov (arm) and....BROOKS ORPIK (lower body). Orpik got dinged up in the victory over the Islanders, so rookies Christian Djoos and Travis Boyd got sweaters tonight. ALRIGHT, CAPS FANS. You finally got your Orpik-less lineup. How would it go?
4. The first period went scoreless. Grubauer looked excellent, stopping all 10 shots he faced in the first frame. An encouraging start for the Capitals and their young netminder!
5. Philadelphia struck first in the second frame. On a 4-on-4, T.J. Oshie lost a defesive zone face-off clean, and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere blasted home one of his trademark slappers to give Philly a 1-0 lead.
6. But Washington said, “Hey, we have a youngster who might be pretty good, too!” Travis Boyd, diving from left-to-right across the circles, hit a gorgeous spin-o-rama pass to a crossing Alex Ovechkin. The Captain moved it on towards the net and past Petr Mrazek to tie the game at 1-1 with his 43rd goal of the season, and the 601st goal of his career, tying him with Jari Kurri for 19th all-time. The assist was also Boyd’s first career NHL assist. So...who gets to keep the puck??
6. With just two minutes left in the second period, Philadelphia rookie Oskar Lindblom capitalized on Washington’s inability to clear the zone (stop me if you’ve heard this one), taking the lead 2-1. AND THEN, with just 19 seconds left in the frame, Ivan Provorov piled on to make it 3-1 just before the final intermission.
7. The third period was all Philadelphia, even if the score line will tell you something different. 90 seconds in, Wayne Simmonds, glorious talented power forward, extended the Flyers lead to 4-1.
8. Washington pushed back eventually, but it was too little too late. Chandler “Chand The Man” Stephenson finished off a beautiful tic-tac passing play with Jakub Vrana to cut the lead to 4-2, and then three minutes later Wayne Simmonds struck again unassisted for his 23rd tally of the season to make it 5-2.
9. John Carlson tried to bring Washington back with one of the prettiest sharp-angle backhands you’ve ever seen, but a final empty netter from Jakub Voracek stuck the historical damage at 6-3 Flyers.
10. There’s no way around this: the Capitals were a MESS in their own defensive end. With the heavy Orpik out of the lineup, Washington struggled mightily to clear the Flyers out of the crease and there was traffic in front of Grubauer all night. What’s more, Washington could not break out of the zone to save their lives. Defenseman Christian Djoos and forward Andre Burakovsky made several terrible decisions with the puck, more than one of which led to a turnover and directly to a goal.
This Capitals’ defense is....problematic, and the bottom-six forwards aren’t doing much good either. Next up is the Dallas Stars on Tuesday in DC, for TJ Oshie BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT!