By Adam Vingan
If there has been one consistent criticism of the Washington Capitals’ style of play, it has to be that they are “too cute.” Those both inside and outside the organization have described the Caps in such a way in recent years.
Through the first three games of the 2011-12 season, however, there hasn’t been any cuteness. In fact, Washington’s goals have been downright ugly.
Thursday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins was no exception. Both Mike Knuble and Alex Ovechkin scored their first goals of the season by crashing the net and creating traffic in front of the crease. In Knuble’s case, he didn’t even shoot the puck that ultimately gave him his first goal; he simply drove to the net and the puck somehow found its way past Brent Johnson.
Washington has scored 12 goals this season and eight of them have come by “dirty” means, whether by deflection, crashing the net or setting up heavy screens in front. Cue Christina Aguilera:
October 8 v. Carolina Hurricanes
- Brooks Laich’s power play goal near the end of regulation
October 10 v. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Marcus Johansson’s first goal of the season
- Dennis Wideman’s goal from the point aided by Matt Hendricks’ screen
- Troy Brouwer’s first goal of the season
- Both of Jason Chimera’s goals
October 13 v. Pittsburgh Penguins
Scoring goals in such a manner is something that the Caps have failed to do in years past. Shows like “SportsCenter” (well, not “Sportscenter,” but the point is made) could always count on Washington for exciting goals to showcase on their highlight reels, but looking for those goals became a hindrance of sorts for the Caps. Instead, the Caps have decided to play it simple with fantastic results. The infusion of grit that the Caps inherited during the offseason with the acquisitions of Brouwer and Joel Ward to go along with what they already had – Knuble, Hendricks et al. – has given them an edge never before seen during the “Rock The Red” Era. Gone are the highlight reel goals and in their place have come dirty, yet effective goals, not to mention three wins to start the season.