The Bell Centre has really been kind since 2010, hasn’t it? It’s the least it could do after that dreadful playoff series back then if you ask me. The Caps stormed into its last road game of the regular season and manhandled Montreal. The other night’s loss to Ottawa didn’t seem to linger much at all. Let’s barf this one up and digest it again, shall we?
Alex Ovechkin is pretty good at hockey. He picked up his frightening pace once again tonight, and his goal to start of the scoring was especially beautiful. The top line had a great forecheck going, Ovie snared a loose puck in the face-off circle, and that was that. He put a nice head fake on Price and buried the puck all in a flash. This seems to be part of Ovechkin’s overall improvement. He’s exercising patience during developing scoring chances and passing the puck, and this leads to an overall threat level increase for Ovie, as evidenced by his first goal tonight. Man, his release is deadly. His second goal of the night was his thirtieth of the year and sixteenth on the power play. Incredible numbers. Mike Milbury must be thrilled. Kudos to Mike Green for the primary assist on Ovie’s second of the night– one of the better slap passes you’ll see. He sure knows how to put in on a platter for his captain.
Hey guys, Troy Brouwer is all of a sudden sniffing the top ten list in goals? Really great stuff at the right time by Troy. This can really be said about a lot of the Caps leaders of late. Troy talked in the post game about how much it means to this team’s potential when the second line is threatening like it is right now. Obviously, he’s right. Washington seemed to come in waves tonight, and it was very relaxing to watch as a fan. Johansson continued his quietly solid play with his setup of Troy early in the second. The Caps again played great with the lead, a trend that must continue if they are to make the playoffs and then make noise once there.
The biggest takeaway from the night is hands down the play from Holtby and the penalty kill unit. Holtby made thirty six saves, got lucky a few times, and the PK unit was five for five in kills (15 of their last 16 as well.) It is tempting to talk all night about Ovie’s Rocket Richard lead, however, defense is what saves hides in the playoffs. We see the proverbial hot goaltender every single April and May. Caps fans got a good whiff last spring of what hard-nosed defense can do for a team. That’s not to say this team’s defense is hard-nosed, yet. The shots-against totals are of concern, but efforts on the back end like tonight will go a long way in the playoffs (if they hang on.)
The Caps now get a couple days off, and we’ll all have our popcorn ready for Winnipeg @ Buffalo on Monday night. Regardless of that game’s outcome, the Caps can clinch the division with a win over Winnipeg on Tuesday night. Sink the choke, boys.