Monday, February 4, 2013
Well the Capitals had an up and down weekend starting with a big win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. The Caps would play their best third period all year scoring two goals and holding on to a 3-2 lead for their second win of the season. Nicklas Backstrom played his best game of the year logging his first goal of the season and an assist. Nicky was by far the best player on the ice Friday and the only one with a +2 ice rating. Braden Holtby got his first win of the year, saving 19 of 21 shots.
John Erskine elbowed Wayne Simmonds in the first period and it went unnoticed by the referees but not the league. Simmonds didn’t return to the game and Erskine was issued a three game suspension the next day by Brendan Shannahan and the league. Matt Hendricks and Zac Rinaldo would both get game misconducts shortly after the elbow because of a staged fight where Hendy got all he could handle in his fourth fight of the season. Other than that the only negative in that game was Tomas Kundratek who had a -1 ice rating and looked lost many points throughout the game. He also took an ill-advised delay of game penalty late in the game.
For some reason the Caps didn’t use the momentum come Sunday because they were embarrassed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were simply outmatched by a better team in the Pens. Braden Holtby had an abysmal day saving only 20 of 26 shots. Holtby allowed some soft goals which took the Caps out of the game in the end. Chris Kunitz scored four goals on the Caps making the final 6-3. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were too much to handle logging a combined five assists in the game. One positive was Mike Ribeiro who continues to impress even with the loss. He logged a goal and assist in the defeat making his point total 10 for the season.
Washington is definitely improving each night, but they have to find some consistency in their games. It is good to finally see some lines coming together under the Oates system. Alex Ovechkin was with Mike Ribeiro for the second game in a row and they were the only two with a +1 ice rating in the loss. The penalty kill is still struggling, killing only four of the six chances this weekend. The biggest problem this year could be the low production of Alex Ovechkin, but the last two games we have seen big improvement. Even though he didn’t score in these two games, he did log 12 shots. His new line with Ribeiro and Wolski may be the concrete first line that the Capitals need down the stretch. Backstrom also showed some glimpses of his playmaking abilities, so maybe things will start to come together.
The Caps schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Maple Leafs coming to Washington tomorrow and the Penguins again Thursday. We shall see which goalie will start tomorrow night, but I bet it will be Michal Neuvirth. John Erskine is sadly out two more games which means Tom Poti will probably get the start again. The leaders have to start being leaders or this team will continue to suffer. The Caps are 2-6-1 and the worst team in the Eastern Conference. Keep the faith Caps fans. Rock the Red!!!!
Player of the Weekend: Nicklas Backstrom (1 goal, 2 assists, +2)
Stat of the Weekend: 12 shots, 0 goals (Alex Ovechkin)
Unsung Hero: Mike Green