It may not be Wednesday, but we had ourselves a classic Patrick Division rivalry on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena, as the Capitals welcomed their hated mid-Atlantic foes the Philadelphia Flyers to town.
Would it be a warm welcome?
Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Two goals from T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana each. Double your pleasure, double your fun.
Minus: Andre Burakovsky continues to just be an absolute phantom on offense.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After the Capitals dropped the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on Sunday in the Motor City at the Pizza Palace™, ending a three-game losing streak, could they slice themselves up another victory pie on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital against the Philadelphia Flyers?
2. The Mighty Captain Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 30th goal in Detroit, proving that You’re Worth It At Any Age™. Would he keep the pedal to the silver metal against division rival Philly?
3. In the lineup again tonight were defenseman Brooks Orpik and goalie Pheonix Copley, with Braden Holtby, Madison Bowey and Dmitrij Jaskin getting the night off. Copley would look to keep up his string of recent stellar performances and continue earning the trust of his team.
4. The Capitals jumped on this one fast. Just four minutes into this contest, Caps winger Jakub Vrana flew down the wing like a baby Boeing, dipsy-dooing around his defenders and re-gathering his own puck before sliding a perfect a pass across the crease to a crashing Tom Wilson. Tom the Bomb tipped it in, and the Caps were up 1-0 quick.
I asked Wilson after the game what’s made Washington’s top two lines so explosive lately.
“I think first of all it’s good team depth; you got four lines that can play. It creates a tough matchup for teams. You got two very elite centermen, and Lars [Eller] and whoever’s in the four-hole there. It’s tough for teams to match up. I’m out there with Kuzy [and Ovechkin], two big bodies on either side, and probably one of the best in the world at controlling the play down the middle. It’s a privilege to get to play with those guys, for sure.”
5. But halfway through the first period, Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek answered for the Flyers. Determined not to be out-Jakubed, Voracek blasted a missile from the circle that found the back of the net and knotted the game at 1-1 after twenty minutes.
6. The Capitals would surge ahead for good in the second period. Halfway through the frame, Lars Eller tossed a gentle muffin towards the net. T.J. Oshie redirected the limp biscuit down and in, giving Washington a 2-1 lead.
7. Then, just three minutes later, Jakub Vrana got loose AGAIN, this time picking a Philadelphia forward’s pocket in the defensive zone and breaking it the other direction 1-on-0. Vrana hit the speed boosters like F-Zero, and the Caps were up 3-1.
8. But Jakub “V For” Vrana wasn’t done yet! A mere four minutes later, Vrana received a Travis Boyd pass and fired home a BB from the side of the crease to make it 4-1, marking his second goal of the night and his 14th on the season - a new career high.
ME: If you could say something to defenses trying to cover you, what would it be?— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) January 9, 2019
ME: If you could say something to them.
VRANA: Like a defenseman?
VRANA: Uhhh, I don't know, I cannot say that. You want me to say-...? No, I cannot!
9. Then, things started to go off the rails in classic Patrick Division fashion. First, Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas laid a big (but clean) hit on Nic Dowd that Devante Smith-Pelly took exception to. Smith-Pelly and Gudas dropped the mitts and chucked some fists.
In the dwindling minutes, with the goalie pulled, Philly would get two back quickly in the game’s dying moments. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux found the back of the net, but it proved to be academic as another T.J. Oshie empty-netter sealed the deal and the story on this one, 5-3.
10. Goalie Pheonix Copley was once again fantastic, and seems to give confidence to the team playing in front of him. After the game, I asked Copley, “The write-ups for this game are going to call you a ‘back-up’ goalie. How do you see yourself and your role on this team?”
“A goalie. I’m just trying to do my job as best I can. I don’t really focus on the hierarchy of it. I just try and do my job to the best of my ability,” Copley told me.
The Capitals have planted a new baby winning streak, and will hope to watch it grow on Thursday against the Boston Bruins.