Caps smother Panthers, 5-0
It might have come against another one of the worse teams in the league, but who gives a damn.
Half price pizza from Papa John's will always taste sweet.
The Capitals recorded their third win of the season and their only shutout of the year against the Florida Panthers with a 5-0 win (Caps win by 4+ goals and Papa Johns in the DC/MD/Northern VA area give you half price on your slice, look up the deal, y'all).
Last night was the first time that all that phantom 'better play' became tangible.
Alexander Ovechkin looked like a new player--better yet, the Ovechkin of old, who flew around the ice as fast as he could. And he didn't just stick to the one regular old lazy move. He got involved with his line--Mike Ribeiro, who is playing the best hockey for the Caps right now, and Jason Chimera, who got promoted to the line last night and had more of an effect than most would have imagined. Ovechkin got his first even strength goal of the season and has a goal streak going over the last few games.
The Capitals actually won the faceoff battle, 25 to 24. It's not a wide margin at all but that was an improvement in recent games for the Capitals.
And, lo and behold, the penalty kill was flawless. Zero goals on two Panthers opportunities. Both of those numbers, the zero goals and the two opportunities, are significant. The Capitals had been taking way too many penalties and had been giving up goals at way too high a rate.
This writer had a friend at the game tonight.
This friend told me that, when he used the restroom, the word amongst those relieving themselves was that the Caps had traded Marcus Johansson and Michal Neuvirth for Roberto Luongo.
Let this go down as the shakiest source of all time.
It's not a terrible trade for the Caps. Change out one of two young goalies and one of two undersized centers playing out of position for an older, much more experienced goalie?
Braden Holtby was just fine last night and he was very good last postseason. Luongo is another hurdle for Holtby's development. It wasn't the most active shutout but he made some tough saves.
It's understandable if the team is just a premier goalie away from making a run.
With this Caps team, stunting Holtby's development is not understandable.
The most impressive thing that Hotby did last night was a long, long pass, from near the net to the far blue line, to set up Jordy Brouwer for what would be his second goal of the night.
Brouwer had two last night--the one that Holtby assisted and one that John Carlson banked off his butt and in.
He was in the right spot, doing good work, and was justly rewarded.
He got the second star of the game, after Holtby.
Joel Ward had a goal last night, taking his total to five on the year.
Through 12 games, that's one goal short of his tally of six from last year.
He's by far the most improved player in this season.
It's also great fun to photoshop his head onto Pam Anderson's body.
He did make a good point after the game last night, though.
He pointed to the players-only meeting as a big factor in something that steered the team to this victory.
He said it was a good time for them to hit the reset button on the season, to get out of their own heads and to stop worrying and just play some hockey.
Of all the players on this team, Ward was one of the few that didn't really have to worry about.
Adam Oates has to be happy with what he's getting from Joel Ward.
What's problematic is the rest of the team.
There are plenty of underachievers, starting with Ovechkin through the first few games and down the roster.
Hopefully those guys paid attention in the players-only meeting.