The promotional schedule read "80's night," but Wednesday evening at the VC could be more accurately described as "50's night," specifically numbers 50 and 52's night, as Joe Motzko and Mike Green combined for three goals, two assists and a plus-five rating in the Caps' highly entertaining 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Rangers. Some thoughts on the game:
- The Caps went from October 8 through December 10 - a span of 26 games - without winning a single game in which the opponent scored the first goal and now they've done it twice in three nights. The difference? Confidence. Even down two goals in the first against a stingy Rangers team, the home team didn't for a second think the game was over. There's no chance the Caps would have won this game a month ago.
- In 21 games under Glen Hanlon, the Caps were 6-14-1. In 10 games under Bruce Boudreau, the Caps are 6-3-1.
- Donald Brashear had his best game in a year-plus as a Cap, beating the stuffing out of Colton Orr just 2:41 into the game, throwing a Ranger off the puck to set up the Caps' first goal, and sending a perfect cross-ice pass to Motzko to set up the Caps' second tally (by the way, was that Motzko or Alex Semin on that dangle?). That Martin Straka was given the third star over Brash was a miscarriage of justice of the highest order.
- Matt Pettinger's string of bad luck continued with his puck that beat Henrik Lundqvist seven-hole but somehow managed not to cross the goal line. Still, he's playing his best hockey of the year by far on the top line.
- Memo to Craig Laughlin: the expression is "Johnny on the spot," not "jolly on the spot." Oh, and while we're at it, not every call is "an easy call for the referee to make" (got a Locker pet peeve? Let's hear it in the comments).
- Tom Poti looked pretty awful on the first two Ranger goals, allowing a pass to get under his stick on the Scott Gomez tally (on which Jeff Schultz also looked bad) and having his back to the puck and not tying up Martin Straka on the next score.
- Much to my surprise, the eighteen first period shots on goal for the Caps wasn't a season-high (they had 19 in the first at Carolina on November 5).
- I don't know what to say about Schultz's goal-scoring streak, but his latest tally - 1:18 after the Rangers had tied the game - was exactly the kind of goal the Caps used to give up (and more or less did three minutes later when Nicklas Backstrom tried to clear the puck rather than holding it against Olie Kolzig for a whistle).
- The power play has gone cold, going 1-for-17 (5.9%) over the past five games. When you're winning, no one cares, but they'll need to right that ship in order to keep winning.
- David Steckel had a couple of good scoring chances, but putting the biscuit in the basket isn't his game (neither is the minus-2 rating he had on the night) - the four hits, three takeaways and 60% faceoffs won are his game.
- Backstrom (6-for-16) and Brooks Laich (4-for-15) continue to struggle in the faceoff circle.
- Green's ice time was monstrous (30:05). His stickhandling at the end of regulation was simply magical. His goal was magnificent. His celebration was Ovechkinesque. I think he's aged five years in the past month.
- Raise your hand if you thought the Caps could score five goals in a game on anyone - much less Lundqvist - with Michael Nylander and Chris Clark out of the lineup and Alexander Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov, Matt Pettinger, Tom Poti, Tomas Fleischmann, Semin and Backstrom combining for two points.
- I wonder what Brendan Shanahan thinks of the ice at Verizon Center.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
The NYT takes a predictable shot at the Caps' attendance.... According to the NYPost, Nylander's injury is a rotator cuff problem. Even though Nyls is supposed to play this weekend, the words you really don't want to hear here are "Dr. James Andrews."
- Hart: Mike Green (Game-winning OT goal, 2A, +3, 5 SOG)
- Ross: Mike Green, Patrick Sharp, Dany Heatley, Jonathan Toews, Jason Spezza, Brendan Shanahan, Jason Pominville (3 points each)
- Norris: Mike Green (Game-winning OT goal, 2A, +3, 5 SOG)
- Vezina: Martin Gerber (31 saves on 31 shots against in 54:27 of relief work)
- Richard: Joe Motzko, Martin Havlat, Mark Recchi, Dany Heatley, Martin Straka (2G each)
- Calder: JonathanToews (G, 2A, +1, 4 SOG, 2 takeaways, 83% faceoffs won)
- Aiken: J.S. Aubin (3 goals allowed on 9 shots against in just 14:06 of work)