Somewhat lost in the glow of back-to-back wins (on the road no less) and the effusive praise of wunderkind Alex Ovechkin (another two points last night as he moved past Bobby Carpenter for the most goals scored by a Caps rookie) is the simple truth that the Caps are not a terribly good hockey team. The team entered Thursday night's game against the St. Louis Blues (they of the seven game losing streak and the worst record in hockey) dead last in the NHL in power play percentage (a paltry 13.4%) and second-to-last in penalty killing percentage (a brutal 78.7%), and did little to improve either number, going 1-for-6 on the power play and a miserable 5-for-8 on the penalty kill.
In fairness, playing without their leader in ice time (defenseman Jamie Heward), their top defensive center and captain (Jeff Halpern) and another top four defenseman (Steve Eminger), one could expect a difficult night on special teams. In reality, the special teams have had difficult nights regardless of who was in the lineup.
Nevertheless, the Caps started strong, played horrendously in the second period, and then rallied in the third to take the lead before surrendering it late in regulation, playing a scoreless overtime and then winning on a Matt Pettinger goal in the first sudden death round of the shootout. Sound like a roller coaster? It was. But I'll let the pros tell you about it. Take it away, Tarik and Dave.
In other news from around the League:
- Remember when I asked for video of the Martin Lapointe/Sidney Crosby/Matt Barnaby exchange from last week's game? Well, here it is.
- Bryan Berard tested positive for 'roids. But it wasn't in an NHL/NHLPA-sanctioned test, so it won't impact his status in the NHL. And he's not on the U.S. Olympic Team. So I guess the real question is, who cares? Oh, and a quick follow-up: if he's second-to-last in the NHL with a -23 rating on 'roids, where would he be without them?
- Hart: Jarome Iginla (2G, including game-winner, A, +1 in 3-2 win)
- Ross: Mattias Norstrom (4 assists)
- Norris: Mattias Norstrom (4 assists, +4)
- Vezina: Nikolai Khabibulin (W, 37 saves on 39 shots against)
- Richard: Luc Robitaille (3 goals; passed Marcel Dionne for most goals in Kings history)
- Calder: Petr Prucha (2G, primary assist on game-winner, +2)
- Aiken: Antero Niittymaki (L, 5 goals against on 18 shots)