In nature, hurricanes feed off of heated waters, usually close to the equator. The Carolina Hurricanes are currently hovering over the NHL’s equivalent of the equator: the cutoff line for the playoffs. A desperate Hurricanes team stormed into Verizon Center Friday in an attempt to catch a surging Washington Capitals team off guard. For 40 minutes, Carolina did just that, but when the Caps found the eye of the storm just 47 seconds into the third period (that being top shelf over Cam Ward), they braced themselves and escaped the Hurricanes’ wrath in a 2-1 win that saw them make yet another comeback. Yes, I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was growing up.
- Looking at Alex Ovechkin’s season statistics, 28 goals and 45 assists might seem like typical numbers. Yet, Ovi has really started to heat things up lately; he currently has a seven-game point streak (four goals, seven assists). It’s not his longest such streak of the season (he had an eight-game streak from late October through mid-November), but just like the Caps are as a team, he’s coming around at the right time.
- Braden Holtby continues to impress, making 40 saves on 41 shots (tied for the most that the Caps have given up all season). While he found himself in some trouble while venturing away from the crease, it’s obvious that his confidence is soaring. He has stopped 174 of his last 178 shots (.978 SV%) in his last six games. Bruce Boudreau mentioned this week that the goaltending battle has become a three-man race, with Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov all making their cases. Don’t be surprised if Holtby sticks around through April. Holtby himself hopes so, too:
Well, I hope so. That’s what everything is. Summer camp, fall camp, throughout in Hershey, you always want to be that guy that plays in the playoffs up here. Obviously, I have no real expectations. I just want to play every game like I’m being sent down the next and see where it leads me.
- Despite the win, the Caps are playing undisciplined hockey lately. Washington has committed three penalties or more in every game since February 20 (nine games). They’ve committed four or more in seven of those nine games. The penalty kill is in the top five of the NHL, which is good, but the Caps are giving the opposition way too many power play chances, which is bad.
- Broken record alert: the Caps won after trailing first and still lead the league with 21 wins after doing so. The Caps also won their eighth game of the season when trailing after two periods. After a refreshing 5-0 blowout win over the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday, Washington went back to playing tight hockey. In fact, 11 of their last 13 wins have been by one goal. When asked about that, Matt Hendricks (who scored the GWG) provided some insight:
It’s kind of become a little bit of a character builder for us this year. Looking back over the past few years in Washington, there hasn’t been a whole lot of adversity…It’s a lot like playoff hockey right now.
It most definitely is. These one-goal wins will only help the Caps in the postseason. Their high-octane offense wasn’t getting the job done, but being able to hold leads in tight games has been.
With the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning losing in regulation Friday, the Caps are in sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. Washington is three points ahead of Boston and four points ahead of Tampa Bay. And the most intriguing thing? The Caps are just two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for first place. A season-high seven-game winning streak has the Caps gelling at the right time. Stand back! There’s a hurricane coming through! Or in D.C., some sort of weird weather pattern. You never know in this city.