There’s nothing like coming home. The Capitals have been forced out of the Verizon Center by March Madness and the circus over the past two weeks and expectations were high as they hit the freshly made sheet of ice. However, as the obscure historical pun in the title alludes to, they were soundly beaten in the shootout. Although no literal canes were involved, tonight showed that a team in the throes of late season desperation can present quite the challenge.
- The return of Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott to the lineup was good news all around. While neither had points tonight, their “intangibles” were on display. Ovechkin quickly came to the defense of teammate Dennis Wideman after the latter was hit rather rudely by Tuomo Ruutu and Arnott’s penchant for being “The Sasha Whisperer” was on display as well. When standing points are no longer truly essential, it’s the little things a team does that can make all the difference. Tangentially related, Wideman is said to be day to day after missing the rest of the game from the hit.
- Alexander Semin remains the District’s greatest enigma. His goal (the fifth in eight games), assist and +2 rating aside, his untimely stick penalty made him live up to the nickname “Bad Sasha”. His absence from most of overtime was a reflection on his play, and Bruce Boudreau made his opinion known on the matter.
- Semyon Varlamov made his second start since returning from injury and from his performance tonight it was clear that he is still dusting off some rust. While he made several key stops, including a poke-check on a penalty shot, letting in a soft goal in the second was part of the game’s undoing. While the goaltender alone cannot carry a team, he needs to show more consistency in order to be the number one guy going into the playoffs.
Blue Jackets Hockey will invade the Phone Booth on Thursday. Despite being the butt of many jokes by yours truly, the Caps have been challenged by them in the past and will need to remain on their toes. Unfortunately, former captain and cult hero Chris Clark is listed as injured and is not likely making the trip, but Washington has the pun-stoppable Rick Nash to look forward to. Great work, Rick.