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The Narrative: That’s Two, The Hits Keep Comin’, and O Captain (and Alternate Captains)

Three things we’re talking about today when we’re talking about the Caps

Carolina Hurricanes v Washington Capitals - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

1. That’s Two

Saturday afternoon’s Game 2 Caps victory may have required a little time on the scoreboard clock than the Game 1 win, but in many ways (not to include special teams), it was a better effort for the Caps, who played the ‘Canes pretty even at fives after being more or less decimated by Carolina there in Game 1. Adjusted for score and venue (per Natural Stat Trick), the Caps were essentially even across the board - 48.5 percent of shot attempts, 51.7 percent of shots on goal, 42.9 percent of scoring chances and 53.6 percent of high-danger scoring chances. Those are all marked and welcome upticks...

via NaturalStatTrick

Of note, there were three five-on-five pushes in the game, and each essentially ended with a goal - Carolina’s first and third, and Brooks Orpik’s game-winner. Now, if the Caps could just get their power play and five-on-five game goin’ at the same time (and maybe something from the third line), they might be on to something...

2. The Hits Keep Comin’

Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland had been running around looking for hits on nearly every shift to start the series (only Orpik was credited with more hits in Game 1), and early in the second period of Game 2, he went a little too far, according to the refs...

Ferland indeed got tossed, though reasonable minds may differ as to whether the right call was made (and if you believe in the karma of teams not scoring on ill-awarded penalties, the Caps helped the case against the call by doing jack squat on the ensuing power play). Right or wrong, we can probably all agree that Dougie Hamilton chicken-winging Evgeny Kuznetsov a few minutes later was way worse:

Brutal. So what’s next?

Looks like the Department of Player Safety has its hands full with Nazem Kadri at the moment and embarrassingly punted on this one (and maybe we don’t want them taking a super-close look at all of yesterday’s high hits anyway). Alas, playoff hockey.

3. O Captain (and Alternate Captains)

Alex Ovechkin is and always has been great, full stop.

And yet, through two games, Ovechkin has been a particularly dominant presence all over the ice, from his physicality to his finesse, from his power to his passion.

So far, Ovechkin has a game-winning goal, a couple of gorgeous primary assists, a series-high 13 hits, and 19 all-situation shot attempts (second in the playoffs to Nathan MacKinnon’s 24; and yes, it would be nice to see him put a few more of his attempts on net going forward). Put another way...

If anyone was concerned that Ovechkin might be satisfied with last year’s Cup, worry no longer - the Caps’ captain looks somehow even more determined this spring than last.

And just look at these two beautiful apples:

Ridiculous touch.

What does the Great 8 think of his set-up skills?

Which brings us back to Backstrom (#back2backstrom). We talked about how great he was in Game 1 and that next-level of play continued on Saturday. The Caps’ dynamic duo has potted four of the team’s seven goals scored on a goalie through two games and (set up their linemate on another), and it’ll be interesting to see how Carolina uses home ice advantage over the next two games to try to stop them, because they haven’t had any great answers yet to Washington’s captain and his top lieutenant.

Speaking of the Caps’ on-ice leadership group, let’s check in on the other alternate captain...

That’s the good stuff right there.

Who knew? Anyway, it’s about time Orpik scored another playoff game-winning goal... he’d gone four games without one:

This is the time of year when teams need their leaders to lead and the Caps have gotten that so far... which goes a long way towards explaining how they’re up 2-0. Now it’s time for their teammates to follow.