Tonight’s 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens wasn’t exactly revenge for ending the Capitals’ previous season, but it sure felt good. Painful memories aside, the entire team played a full 60 minutes with high energy, something that should occur 82+ times a year, but alas. The Habs put good pressure on the home team, but the all-around effort by the Caps blanked the Canadiens’ vertically-challenged offense.
- Jay Beagle played his best game in a Capitals sweater, defeating the Red Baron, Carey Price, with a beautiful backhand spin-o-rama of a goal (Get it? Beagle. Snoopy. Yeah…) He continued to play effectively for the rest of the game, with some good puck movement on the PK as well. Not bad for 10 minutes total ice time.
- Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin’s tallies were good signs for the recently ineffective Young Guns. In addition, Nicklas Backstrom racked up his 25th assist of the season tonight. Are we catching whiffs of a resurgence? Hopefully. However, Alexander Semin was practically invisible outside of his all-too-familiar stick penalty, recording two shots in 15 minutes of ice time. Not to suggest anything drastic, but 6+ million dollars of cap space could be spent on 3 (or more) players that do not go AWOL at random, especially when their future with the team is uncertain.
- Despite the decisive victory, the Caps went 0-8 on the power play, which further perpetuates the “Killer Instinct” theory, that is to say, lack thereof. Although several of the man advantages showed some good work on the cycle, as well as good chances, the puck actually has to cross the line to make it a truly effective power play. The puck needs to be shot and shot often. Shots tend to equal goals and no amount of fancy passing will make up for that. Although it is rather nice to watch.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the penalty kill was 6-0, with a couple of quality chances shorthanded. The game was rather chippy at times, hence the PIM doled out, but the Caps kept their cool when it mattered.
Next up is the one we’ve all been waiting for, folks. The Winter Classic. The Caps are coming off tonight’s win with a lot of confidence, and last week’s meeting with the Penguins provides extra incentive. It’s going to be a great game. Be ready.