In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus and his fellow shipmates are blown off course on their way back to Ithaca. On their journey home, Odysseus & Co. pass by the land of the Sirens, creatures who sang an enchanted song that would drive mesmerized sailors towards rocks that would ultimately sink their ship. The Washington Capitals, believe it or not, were in a similar situation heading into Saturday’s game with the New York Islanders. Trade winds had been blowing all day as roster moves aplenty shuffled the Capitals’ proverbial deck. The Islanders, one of the league’s worst teams (and technically, I guess the Sirens in Odyssey were also islanders), looked like an appetizing respite from Friday’s 6-0 letdown against the cross-town Rangers. For the first half of the game, the Caps were headed towards the rocks, but by the end of the game, the only sirens heard or seen were those behind the Islander’s net. Washington would steer clear of another collapse with a 3-2 comeback win. Take that, middle school mythology.
- Brooks Laich earned the second star of the game, but he had a legitimate claim to the first. In just his sixth multi-point game of the season, Laich looked like (no pun intended) the player the Caps always hoped he would be: a two-way power forward who could drive to the net at will. He did it twice, scoring the Caps’ first goal and setting up Mike Knuble’s game-tying goal in such fashion. As the Caps search for their true identity this season, Laich found his Saturday.
- Marcus Johansson had himself a game as well. His drive behind the net set up Laich’s goal and he also made an incredible move around Travis Hamonic for another chance in the third period. Despite losing seven of 11 faceoffs, Johansson continues to improve nightly. Considering all of the arguments pitting MJ90 against Mathieu Perreault early in the season, just think about whose on the team now and who got sent down recently. Just sayin’.
- Michal Neuvirth is laying a strong claim to the starting goalie gig for the postseason. Since Semyon Varlamov couldn’t make it through practice this morning, Neuvy managed to keep the Capitals afloat through a terrible first period in which the offense didn’t register a shot until past the halfway point of the stanza. The Isles outshot Washington 14-5 though 20 minutes, but Neuvy only let one puck beat him in a period that was tilted decisively in New York’s favor. He also made what was probably a game saving stop on a breakaway bid by Frans Nielsen minutes after New York went up 2-0.
- Anyone else getting tired of seeing the Caps resort to timeouts for some in-game inspiration from Bruce Boudreau? The team is lifeless through most games these days. It’s a shame it took a beatdown on Matt Hendricks along with an earful from Boudreau to get them motivated. The Caps are in a battle for the division. That alone should ought to be a kick in the pants. Apparently, it’s not.
- Alexander Semin scored the game-winning goal, his second in the last two weeks, but as Craig Laughlin said, “he can sleepwalk through a game, then all of a sudden, BOOM.” That’s fine and good, but perhaps there should never be any sleepwalking. Case and point: the Caps get a PP in the third up 3-2, a great chance to put the game away. Three seconds into the man advantage, Semin commits an interference penalty. With some new blood on the way to Washington (i.e. Marco Sturm), Semin needs to realize that the seat under him is getting hotter.
- The power play, which had scored in three of the last four games, went silent again at 0-2. The Caps are in the midst of a franchise-worst 39 game streak without multiple PP goals.
- These Caps love comebacks. Saturday’s win was Washington’s NHL-best 13th win when trailing after the first period. It was also the eighth time that they’ve come back from a two-goal or more deficit this season; in those games, the Caps have a 5-0-3 record. Maybe an underdog mentality works better for this team.
Saturday’s come-from-behind win was much needed because there will be no normalcy whatsoever in the upcoming days. If Saturday was an indication, expect big moves between now and Monday afternoon’s deadline. In the mean time, it’s Saturday night, so enjoy the night the best way we know how. Hint: it’s what the Sirens were best at. This is a family blog.