Friday, October 25, 2013
If the Washington Capitals and Edmonton Oilers did not finish their contest last night before your bedtime, cheer up Caps fans… CAPS WIN ! CAPS WIN!! CAPS WIN!!!
The Caps made it three in a row last night at Rexall Place in Edmonton, beating the Oilers by a 4-1 margin. The win allowed the Caps to climb to third in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who lost to the Minnesota Wild, 3-1.
If you had odd numbers last night, you were lucky. The first line and the third line figured in the scoring, as did the first defensive pair. Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring with his tenth goal of the season late in the first period and added an assist. Nicklas Backstrom had his first goal since Game 2 of the season and had an assist of his own, his tenth of the season. Marcus Johansson added two assists. For the third line, Joel Ward and Jason Chimera added goals with Mikhail Grabovski getting an assist. As for the defense, it was Karl Alzner and John Carlson each getting a helper.
-- No power play goals. A 4-1 win at even strength. Holding the Oilers to a tie in total even-strength shots. If the Caps perform to that level, the power play goals will come, making this a formidable team.
-- Maybe that game against Winnipeg was just a hiccup for Braden Holtby. With 30 saves on 31 shots, he has a save percentage of .945 over his last five games and is 4-1-0.
-- Tom Wilson continues in the “close but no cigar” pursuit of his first NHL goal. He had a chance on the doorstep, but…no cigar.
-- When was the last time Alex Ovechkin did not record a hit in a game? We don’t know, but it strikes us as being a long time.
-- Nate Schmidt keeps piling up the minutes. Last night: 19:50. Not what one might have expected when the season started. And he has been on the ice for only four goals against in almost 111 minutes of playing time. He was not on ice for Edmonton’s shutout spoiler last night, either.
-- Nice thing about settling things relatively early (the Caps had a 3-0 lead less than two minutes into the third period)…rolling lines and pairs. Only Mike Green among the 18 skaters had more than 20 minutes of ice time (22:40), and none had fewer than ten minutes…even Tom Wilson (11:36).
-- Speaking of Wilson…1:17 of power play ice time. This is part of the closely-managed special teams ice time we were talking about in a previous post that will probably result in his aggregate ice time climbing over the rest of the year. He might be a 7-8 minute guy now. By March, he might be a 10-12 guy.
-- It was nice to shutout the Oilers on their power play (0-for-3), but we were not too keen on allowing seven shots in 5:28 of power play time. -- The Caps spread thing around in this respect – shots at even strength. Fourteen of 18 skaters had them. Good marks for class participation.
-- The Caps have the reputation of having flair (maybe too much of it), but they got their goals from in close last night. Two on the doorstep and Chimera getting one taking a feed as he was charging the net, added to the faceoff-win-wrister from Ovechkin.
In the end… It was another solid, if unspectacular game. Just the kind of game you would like to see the Caps churn out on the road. There was the annoyance at the end when an Oiler managed to get behind both Wilson and John Erskine to ruin Holtby’s shutout bid, but the Caps did not look in danger of losing this game after Joel Ward’s goal in the second period. The Caps are getting into a good rhythm now, having scored four or more goals in four of five games (damn you, Henrik!) and allowing only a total of ten over that same span, including those four goals to Winnipeg.
They get another chance to face an opponent they have already faced – and beaten – on Saturday when they visit Calgary, a team that has lost four of five. Let’s hope the Caps don’t get caught peeking ahead to their game in Vancouver on Monday.