I want to start out by apologizing to you, my loyal reader; there will be no Caps Recap next week as I will be travelling on business. The unfortunate part is that I will be in Miami, which is about five hours east of Tampa Bay when the Caps travel to Tampa to face the Lightning.
A friend of mine lives in Tampa and has season tickets to St. Pete-Times Forum, but since I’ve got work stuff I’ve gotta do, I won’t be able to make it. How frustrating is that? I would’ve rocked the red on the road!
Last week was a good week for the Caps as they went 2-0-1 versus their three opponents. The most frustrating was last Monday when they gave up a two goal lead and lost in OT. They bounced back with a shutout over Buffalo, but history started to look like it was going to repeat itself Saturday night when the Caps gave up another two goal lead and looked like they just might lose in regulation.
With nearly a third of their starting roster out due to injury, the Caps have not played as tough as they might usually, but they are playing well enough to win games. Let’s get to the recap, and we’ll see if the Caps’ standings have improved.
Monday, November 23rd @ Ottawa – The Senators got on the scoreboard first, but three unanswered Caps’ goals later, the Caps were carrying a two goal lead into the third period; ahead 3-1. This would be the 24th time in 24 games that the Caps have had the lead in the second period. Ottawa would go on to tie the game up with two goals in the third period, and the Caps would ultimately fall to the Senators 4-3 when Mike Fisher tapped in the game winner 1:14 seconds into the extra time.
Nothing is Over – The Caps have carried a lead in the second period or later in every game they’ve played. They had only won 13 of those 24 games to this point. They were 6-4-4 when leading after the first period, and 8-0-2 when leading after two. They were 1-4 in games that were decided in overtime, and 2-2 in games requiring a shootout.
The Regal (Jay) Beagle – Knocking on Ottawa’s door, Jay Beagle took a step that was new when he scored his first ever NHL goal. He joins Mathieu Perreault as Caps players’ scoring their first ever NHL goals this season. At the rate the Caps are calling up players from Hershey, it won’t be long until three’s company. You’re going to be cussin’ me later when you’re walking around with that theme song stuck in your head; sorry ‘bout that.
Wednesday, November 25th vs. Buffalo – Y’know, I don’t mind when the refs keep their whistles in their pockets. Not everything has to be called. The occasional hook, or hold, or accidental trip here and there that doesn’t change the result of the play should be ignored. I do take exception when the two teams are evenly matched in a game that is 1-0 when the refs throw out a 5 minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct ejecting the league MVP for a play that didn’t even result in an injury time-out. The Great Eight was tossed from the game for what at most should have been a two-minute minor penalty as he laid a hit into Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta. Buffalo was given five minutes with an extra attacker in the third period, but the Caps’ penalty killers would save the day, and it would be Eric Fehr who would put the game out of reach as the Caps’ blanked Buffalo 2-0.
How Gracious of You – The NHL did not admit that the refs’ ruling on Ovechkin may have been a little harsh considering the infraction. Ordinarily a Game Misconduct ejection in the third period results in an automatic one-game suspension. The league opted to hold off on the suspension as long as Ovechkin doesn’t receive another Game Misconduct penalty in the next 42 games. If he does, the suspension will be automatic.
Famous or Infamous? – Ovechkin is now the only player in the league to lead his team both in goals-scored and Penalties-in-Minutes. Over half of Ovechkin’s PiM’s total came from this game.
Saturday, Noveber 28th @ Montreal – The Caps jumped out to yet another 2-goal lead in the first period, stunning the hometown crowd on Montreal. The crowd wouldn’t stay quiet for long as their hometown heroes stormed back to tie the game in the second, and took the lead in the third. As the crowd began singing “oh-way oh wayoh wayoh way” the Caps’ snuck back in and tied it up when Eric Fehr ripped in a power-play goal with 0:12 seconds left in regulation. It would be Nicklas Backstrom scoring the only goal in the shoot-out on the last shot of the third round that would finally allow the Caps to leave with a win, 4-3.
As close as it gets – Pulling a goal tender is a risky, last-ditch effort by teams when they need that one last goal to tie up a game. With the Caps skating six-on-five, they had to keep the pressure on, and be careful not to turn the puck over with their net empty. The tripping penalty called on the Canadiens, with 0:16 left in regulation, actually helps Montreal in that situation. Sure, they are now skating short-handed six-on-four, but now they can take pot-shots at the empty net without getting an icing call. Thankfully, Eric Fehr only needed about four seconds to score the equalizer.
An eyebrow raising stat – If I told you that only two players were responsible for all of the Caps’ five goals in the past two games (shoot-out goals don’t count) you would correctly guess Alex Ovechkin was one of those two players. You’d probably be surprised not only to hear that the other player was Eric Fehr, but that he scored three of the five goals (Alex had the other two).
So where do we stand?
The Caps received five of a possible six points last week and are now 15-5-6 with 36 total points.
1st in the Southeast Division – 7-points ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers in second who have snuck ahead of Tampa Bay (now at third) by 1-point
1st in the Eastern Conference – Tied with Pittsburgh who also has 36 points, but has played one more game than the Caps. Note: Pittsburgh has not lost an overtime game this season and are 18-9-0
2nd in the League Overall – Now only 4-points behind San Jose, tied with Pittsburgh for second, and 1-point ahead of New Jersey and Chicago, both tied for fourth.
Coming Up: The Caps will see a lot of I-95 this week as they start off in the south tonight facing Carolina, come home to face Florida on Thursday, and finish their week off in Philadelphia on Saturday.
The Caps are currently undefeated against divisional foes (4-0-0), and they face two more this week with Carolina and Florida. Carolina is dead last in the division with a 5-16-5 record (can you say trap game?), while Florida is second to last but still in the mix with a 10-11-4 record. Philly is third in their division, and this game could go either way. Philly beat Washington way back in early October 6-5 in OT, but the Caps came back and beat them later in that month 4-2 in regulation.
Here’s hoping they don’t fall asleep on Carolina tonight, and have a blowout win!