(Photo credit: Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Life is like a box of waffles (not really, but there needed to be some sort of waffle-related reference in a Maple Leafs post). The story of the night didn’t feature breakfast food, but the return of the electric Alex Ovechkin that hockey fans worldwide have come to known (and some to love). Ovechkin’s hat trick paced the Capitals in a 4-1 victory over Toronto, giving the Caps some sweet revenge from their last meeting; it was almost as sweet as ice cream in a waffle cone (Okay, no more waffle references).
- Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin, in one game, had his first hat trick of the season, his first hat trick since February 2010 and his first multi-goal game since October 30. Along with eight shots on goal, Ovechkin also had three blocked shots. Everything just seemed to be right with Ovi for the first time; he was powering through the Leafs’ defense and driving to the net at will. Because of that, he picked up two goals right in front of the crease. A hockey night in Canada, indeed.
- Ovechkin’s linemates, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera, also contributed. Combined, the newest top line had three goals, three assists and a plus-8. Add that to their totals from Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders and they have five goals, six assists and a plus-14. Backstrom has found his groove, too. Ovechkin’s power, Backstrom’s finesse and Chimera’s speed and grit is one hell of a combination.
- The team, as a whole, played a very physical, error-free game, one that will need to be repeated often in postseason play. They dished out 33 hits, blocked 27 shots, and had just seven giveaways. On the season, they have averaged 23.4 hits per game, 14.9 blocked shots per game, and 8.7 giveaways per game. A sound effort from the entire team on both ends of the ice and perhaps the best performance of 2011.
- The PK continues to thrive, killing off all three Leaf power plays. They are now second in the NHL behind Pittsburgh when playing a man down. The transformation has been absolutely unreal. Who says this team can’t adapt?
- With the first line humming once again, things will only get better once guys like Eric Fehr and Alex Semin return to jumpstart a lineup that is playing hard, but not scoring as much as it could. We love the energy from Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle, but let’s face it, they aren’t consistent when it comes to offensive production and the Caps will need some secondary scoring down the stretch.
- Of course, how could we forget Braden Holtby? Holtby made 35 saves, some routine, some spectacular. The Capitals are incredibly lucky to have three young studs in net, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. He will be sent back to AHL Hershey as soon as Michal Neuvirth is ready to return, but in the mean time, a glimpse into the future never hurts. Holtby might have the highest ceiling amongst the trio and we saw that tonight.
- Let’s just enjoy Matt Hendricks breaking ankles.
The Caps have played two back-to-back 60-minute games and have won back-to-back games for the first time in 2011 because of it. A 2-0-1 road trip bodes well for a one-game homecoming Monday against the New York Rangers. Now let’s go get some f*ckin’ Eggos (I lied; one more waffle reference).