Like many a fan from Bethesda, the Caps rode the Red Line last night. And, like the Metro's version on many nights, the Caps' Red Line broke down before the end of the night, as the elder statesman of the Russian trio left the game early with a "lower body" injury.
Painfully tortured analogies aside, the Caps' 3-2 come-from-behind win last night - snatching victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat - is just the kind of win this team needed. Emotional. Hard-fought. Confidence-building. There's plenty to discuss, so let's get to discussin':
- Alex Ovechkin is now in the midst of the longest goal-less streak of his NHL career, but he was an absolute force out there, with the primary assist on all three Caps goals and a game-high seven hits (despite the playmaking prowess, however, you've got to shoot on that first period mini two-on-one next time, 'kay, Gretz?).
- When Alex Semin plays like he did last night, he can say whatever he wants about whomever he wants. Then again, he can say whatever he wants about whomever he wants no matter how he plays, as far as I'm concerned.
- Caps penalty killers have now killed off 38 of their last 41 disadvantages (88.4%), including the full 1:03 of Carolina's two-man advantage last night. The power-play, however, still stinks.
- The Tomas Fleischmann-Michael Nylander-Chris Clark line was pretty atrocious (and man, was Nylander lazy in his coverage on the 'Canes first goal). The trio was a combined minus-16 in Corsi Rating, minus-five in plus-minus, and only attempted three shots on goal (one of which missed). Perhaps Clark needs to go see a specialist about his lingering groin injury (wink wink, nudge nudge).
- That said, Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom (who had his strongest game in recent memory remains without an even strength point or a goal) need finishers (i.e. Alexes). And despite reasonable success on the night, Sergei Fedorov is not a good enough playmaker to deserve both Alexes.
- For the fourth time this season, the Caps opponent scored on its first shot of the game. Coincidence or poor prep? The jury's still out.
- Brent Johnson made some great saves on the night - and 32 overall - but the two that did get by him, he might want back.
- I simply cannot be convinced that John Erskine is not a horrible, horrible hockey player.
- Let's give some credit where it's due - Cam Ward was awesome.
- Remember when the Caps used to forecheck? That's one thing - check that, the one thing - I miss about Matt Cooke.
- You'd think after fighting him a couple of times, Wade Brookbank would know that Donald Brashear is left-handed. Apparently, you'd think incorrectly. Then again, this is a guy who crushed a guy wearing the same colored sweater as his last night, so he's probably not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
- I know I don't have the best grammar in the world, but Jesus H. Christ, at least I don't say "whole 'nother." With ads like that, I'm glad Circuit City's business is in the crapper.
- Milan Jurcina's hit on Scott Walker was highlight-reel quality. We need to see him play a few games with someone other than Erskine before we can say, definitively, that he blows.
- Gutsy job by Brooks Laich breaking up a pass and getting to bench on the PK after a sickening-sounding blocked shot.
- The Caps won 64% of the game's faceoffs, which is a ridiculous number when you consider that Rod Brind'Amour was 12-for-18 for Carolina (Eric Staal continues to stink in the dot, winning just seven of 23 draws on the night (30%), and Dwight Helminen (whoever the hell that is) was 0-for-8).
- One final note on faceoffs - with Fedorov out, the Caps were suddenly quite shallow down the middle in terms of guys who could take a defensive draw, and Laich ended up taking - and losing - one to Staal with 1:12 left. If for no other reason, that situation made it clear that, right now, David Steckel is more useful and valuable in the lineup than Clark is.
- The ice at the VC cost the Caps two minutes (when Johnny tried to clear a puck on the PK), countless scoring opportunities, and perhaps two players. Why pay more than $5 million per year on perhaps the best skating blueliner in the game when he has to slog through that mush 41 times a year? Then again, the Caps haven't lost at home since Backstrom scored the game-winner for Pitt, so...
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Hershey's special teams haven't been good so far this season, especially the PK.