What was on the tips of everyone’s tongues following Saturday night’s thrilling shootout win over Montreal Canadiens? Not Nicklas Backstrom’s return, but believe it not the hated shootout was the talk of the town.
Well, more specifically The Paralyzer — Matt Hendricks — was the hot topic of discussion. For two straight games Hendricks embarrassed goalies in the NHL’s overtime gimmick and his shootout effectiveness defies logic.
You’d think the likes of Alex Ovechkin would be the team’s go-to shooter in the skills competition, but that’s just not the case. Ovechkin isn’t even Top 30 in the league in the gimmick.
It’s the Caps fourth line winger who’s ranked No. 10 in the league for shootout percentage (83.3 percent). Yes Hendricks, he of the nine points, four goals and minus-six rating, is one of the league’s best shootout men.
His moves are no joke.
On Thursday night he deked Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas onto his butt and into a fit of rage as Thomas tripped on his way off the ice following the loss (presumably because he couldn’t feel his legs..since he was, ya know, paralyzed). Then it was the Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj who froze up as the fearsome No. 26 bolted down the ice and roofed the first goal of the shootout.
Each Hendricks shootout goal is an electric experience and one that makes us wonder how someone with such soft hands ended up being a career grinder.
I guess that’s just hockey for ya.
1. Matt Hendricks — two game winning shootout goals, one assist
This week’s write-up was all about his dazzling moves, so what more can we really say. Sure, other people could be No. 1 this week, but the reason the Caps control their playoff destiny right now belongs to this guy’s hands.
2. Alex Ovechkin – two assists
Reaching 40 goals is probably in jeopardy now, but for Ovechkin just returning to a point-a-game player is probably enough to satisfy him, for now. Ovechkin’s stepped up his game and now it’s time to see how Backstrom’s return figures No. 8’s play.
3. Mathieu Perreault – one goal, one assist
No. 85 always seems to find his scoring touch against the Canadiens. In three of the meeting between the two teams this year Perreault has scored a goal. If only the last game of the season came against the Habs and not the New York Rangers…
4. Marcus Johansson – one goal, one assist
One and one for the younger center Swede this week isn’t too bad. With three games left and Backstrom back on the active roster, the battle to be the team’s No. 2 center is back on between Johansson and Perreault.
5. Dennis Wideman – one goal, first goal since Feb. 4
While we’re all still waiting for Mike Green to arrive offensively, Wideman broke a goal scoring drought that dated back to Feb. 4. Some more blue line scoring could go a long way for the Caps in these last three games, so hopefully this gets Wideman going again.
6. Jay Beagle – one goal, 16:03 TOI versus Montreal
One of the season’s breakout stories continues to grow. His three goals and one assists don’t make for the sexiest stats across 38 games, but Beagle always seems to figure into games the Caps desperately need to win.