The Washington Capitals entered this week without the services of their superstar playmaker Alex Ovechkin; though if you looked at the scores of their three games last week, you wouldn’t know it. Washington scored 13 goals in three games.
Seven of those goals came in a game without Alex Ovechkin or Mike Green.
Now I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself and start talking about how dominant the Caps are playing right now. We should keep in mind that the Caps scored 11 goals against a struggling Panthers team, but the fact that they were able to do it without Ovechkin does speak volumes for the depth and heart that this organization has.
It is sometimes very easy for a team to throw their hands up when their best player is hurt and start to feel sorry for themselves. The Caps started to look like one of those teams Wednesday night in a losing effort to New Jersey, but Boudreau rallied the troops and they came out fighting Friday night in Sunrise Florida where they played a nearly flawless game against the Panthers.
Without further ado; let’s get to the recap!
Wednesday, November 4th @ New Jersey – In typical fashion, the Caps jumped out to an early lead scoring the first goal of the game in the first period. Also in typical fashion, the Caps let the game slip away in the third period. After the Devils tied the game in the second period, the Caps gave them four power play opportunities in the third which resulted in two goals for the Devils. Coach Boudreau was not happy with his team’s performance. “When you go behind the net and you put your stick on a guy you’re going to get a penalty.” said Boudreau, “Brendan Morrison has been in the league for 10 years, Semin’s been in the league for five years. These guys know this. It’s just dumb penalties.”
Chris Clark; Devil Fighter - Caps Captain Chris Clark (say that three times fast) has two fighting majors this season. Both have come against New Jersey. He found himself in a scrape versus David Clarkson when the Devils came to Verizon back in October, and again here versus Rod Pelley.
Well that was disappointing – In the absence of Ovechkin, the team turned to their other Alex (Semin) to pick up the slack. Semin tallied only three shots on goal, but was flagged for two penalties, one of which gave the Devils the go-ahead goal.
Friday, November 6th, @ Florida – In the first of a home-and-home series versus the Panthers, the Caps played a nearly flawless game. There were a couple of moments during the first period that would have been tough on those with heart conditions. Both net minders had some near misses where the puck hovered in the crease in front of an open net, only to be swept away by a defender. Tomas Vokoun had a shot squirt through his pads and slide perilously close to the goal-line before running out of steam and stopping just short. It looked like it was going to be the Caps first goal, but it was saved by a Florida defender from going in. The in typical Caps fashion, they again scored first, but this time was different. The Caps played mistake free hockey until the midway mark of the third period when they received their first penalty (50 minutes without a penalty!). Florida scored their only goal on that power-play, but then, a little over a minute later, the Caps were called for a 5-minute major. The Caps did not allow a single shot on goal for that five minutes and went on to win 4-1.
Who’s left? – The Caps came into the game with six defensemen. By the time Florida had scored their first goal, and were gearing up for five minutes of power-play time, the Caps were down to three. Mike Green and Jeff Shultz were both injured early in the game, and Shaone Morrison was not only assessed a five minute major, but was given a game misconduct penalty and kicked out of the game. Tyler Sloan, who had been converted from defenseman to forward before the game started, was re-converted back to defender after Green and Shultz were injured, and the bulk of the Caps defensive ice-time was divided up between Poti (28:42), Pothier (25:20), and Jurcina (23:12).
Blue-Collar Heroes – For the second consecutive game, the Caps first goal was scored by Tyler Sloan. Sloan (who was later converted to defenseman), and defender Tom Poti teamed up to account for two of the Caps four goals. The other two were scored by Brendan Morrison.
Morrison scored the Caps second goal, which became the game-winner when Florida scored their only goal on the power-play. The penalty that Florida scored on was Brendan Morrison, two minutes for interference. Morrison also scored the empty netter to make up for Florida’s PPG.
Saturday, November 7th vs. Florida – This was going to be a tough game for both teams. Florida and Washington were both playing their third game in four nights. The Caps scored the only goal of the first period, but then it appeared that fatigue, combined with their mountain of injuries, had finally caught up with them as Florida scored three goals in the second period. The Caps looked like a beaten team in the second period as Florida was all over them, but the Caps were just “playin’ ‘possum” as they came out fresh in the third period and scored a season high five goals in that period alone. This time Florida was the team looking gassed scoring only one goal in the third, but ultimately unable to stop the onslaught as the Caps rolled to a 7-4 victory.
It’s a Trap! – The Caps have built a reputation for being a team that starts early but withers late. They have outscored teams in the first period by an amazing 20-6 in 17 games this season. It’s no surprise that the Panthers were lulled into believing they had this game in the bag after outshooting the Caps 23-16 in the first two periods and leading 3-2 to start the third.
The Caps had as many shots in the third period as they did in the first two combined, and scored on 31% of them. The Caps outskated, outshot, outscored and outhit a surprised Florida team in one of the best efforts I’ve seen from this team in a long time.
Coming up – The Caps enjoy a few days off, and don’t play again until Wednesday when they host the Islanders. They play again Friday when they bring Minnesota to Washington, and then it’s off to New Jersey again Saturday night.
Even though the Caps played two great games without their star winger and star defenseman, they are hoping for speedy recoveries for both as their opponents get tougher this week.
Hopefully the fun continues, as the Caps are playing well in their absence so far!