The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers entered Saturday night’s game in D.C., full of anticipation. Philly is a terrible road team, the newspapers and the Internet had a myriad of articles that all but assumed Alex Ovechkin — with three hat tricks in six games — would become the eighth player to hit 700 career goals in the contest. To complete the theme, the Capitals wore their 1980s throwbacks worthy of the high-scoring games reminiscent of that era.
The game had plenty of firepower, but not for Washington. The Flyers won 7-2, with their vast collection of loud fans at Capital One Arena reveling in the Capitals’ humiliation.
Plus: Jakub Vrana is slowly emerging as a force on the Capitals’ first power play unit. After receiving very little PP time coming into the season, V’s recent shift led to a nice pass to T.J. Oshie for the Caps’ only goal when the game meant anything.
Minus: I mean, 7-2. What more can you say?
Ten more notes on the game:
- Nick Jensen, acquired by the Capitals last season before being signed to a 4-year, $10 million contract extension. Finally, mercifully, to the great relief of children everywhere, Capitals head coach Todd Reirden benched Jensen, who had played — sort of — in all 54 of Washington’s previous games this season. Martin Fehervary, a 2018 draft pick and team’s top defensive prospect, got another tryout in a Caps uniform, this time paired in the top-four paired with Dmitry Orlov. He acquitted himself well. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan likes to pick up veteran defenseman at the trade deadline, but Fehervary is making himself an option for the playoff roster.
- Radko Gudas was majestically awful on the Flyers second goal, turning the puck over the Nicolas Aube-Kubel and then getting torched by the Flyers winger who sped past and delivered a perfect cross-ice pass to Michael Raffl to put the puck past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
- Former Capitals defenseman Matt Niskaknen, who was traded for Gudas in a salary cap move, received an extended tribute on the big screen at Capital One Arena. Highlights of Niskanen’s time with Washington, ending with the team celebrating their Stanley Cup win, were played. Niskanen appeared to hold back tears as he received a standing ovation from the Capitals fans in attendance.
- While Vrana set up up Oshie for his 23rd assist of the season, the Capitals power play has been a disaster in 2020. Their zone entries looked comical. While they scored, the team has fallen from one of the league’s best units to 12th in the NHL coming into Saturday’s game. The team has fiddled around with it constantly at practice and in games in recent weeks, but nothing seems to be working.
- This was true at some point, though I lost track after five goals, but every Capitals goal-against was the result of some defensive breakdown: turnovers, getting blown past by forwards, poor positioning in front of the goal that led to an easy tip-in. Everything seemed easy for the Flyers. That’s because it was.
- Brandon Leipsic dropped the gloves in a short and not very good fight. It did not spark a six-goal comeback. The Capitals did get one goal back, so maybe punching still has a role in hockey.
- Braden Holtby, struggling to keep his starting job, was replaced by rookie Ilya Samsonov in the third period after allowing his seventh goal. It seemed to be an act of mercy by Reirden. Still, seven goals-against is not a way to keep your job against one of the best goalies in the league.
- Fehervary got his first career point in the NHL on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s garbage-time goal with a secondary assist. That is probably not how he drew it up.
- On Thursday, the Flyers lost to the lowly New Jersey Devils 5-0. Coming into the game, Philly had a minus-31 goal differential away from home. Saturday, they crushed the second-best team in the league. Sports?
- What the hell was that?
There’s not much to say about this game. It was an unmitigated disaster. While Ovechkin has been amazing lately, the rest of the team has not.
The Capitals will take on the New York Islanders Monday at Capital One Arena.