Normally a game recap would be chock full of statistics about face off percentages, penalty kills and power plays. But I don’t really know how much any of those things mattered last night as the Washington Capitals hammered the Hurricanes at home 5-1. And no that’s not a typo. I can’t think of anything better to call this than a recrap.
Things didn’t start off terrible. With 3:26 off the clock Anthony Stewart tipped in a shot taken by Jay Harrison at the point. Jeff Skinner also picked up a helper on that goal and the teams headed into the first intermission with the Canes on top 1-0. Washington, with less than a minute and a half off the clock in the second, tied things up as Jeff Halpern, assisted by Mike Knuble, scored on a wrister. It was barely over a minute later when winger Troy Brouwer tipped in a shot, picking up a goal for him and an assist for Marcus Johansson. Brouwer had been questionable earlier in the week after sustaining a shoulder injury, but he sure didn’t look like anything was affecting his game last night.
The game was not out of reach at this point, but things were about to go terribly wrong. The Canes were on a power play and Eric Staal took a shot that was stopped by Caps keeper Michal Neuvirth. But the puck was still loose in front of the net and Jeff Skinner was there to punch it in. The horn sounded. The goal celebration began and then there was commotion on the ice. Skinner was no longer jumping for joy, but instead was furious. I heard someone behind me say, “They’re waving the goal off! They’re waving it off!” It was true. No goal. The referee had lost sight of the loose puck and blew a premature whistle before Skinner took the shot. It was a horrible call and turned the momentum of the game, that was already out of balance, completely in the direction of the Caps.
The Canes were never able to right the ship in the third and the Caps went on to score three more goals; one for John Carlson, one for Nicklas Backstrom and a first NHL goal for recent Hershey Bears call up Cody Eakin. That brought the score to 5-1 as the final horn sounded.
Unlike previous contests, we were able to stay out of the box. There was one penalty in each period with an unlikely tripping penalty called on our steadfast goalie Cam Ward. The lack of penalties really had no bearing on the outcome of this game. I just felt like I had to say something nice about us not spending half the game with half the team in the sin bin.
Reading the simple facts of the game doesn’t really tell the true story. I thought the team looked “just ok” in the first. Not great, but not horrible. Paul Maurice did not agree and had no kind words about any of the match in his post-game interview referring to a bad pinch by Joni Pitkanen as, well let’s keep things rated PG and call it “equine excrement.” I’ll leave the translation up to you. I was a bit surprised to hear him publicly call out the blueliner who has been one of the most steady, solid players of the season instead of pointing out the defenseman that seems totally lost on the ice, Tomas Kaberle. I hope that the coaches will consider some defensive changes for the Dallas contest Sunday including getting young Derek Joslin back in the lineup. Getting sick during camp has totally thrown off getting him in the mix in what,, at the end of last season looked like a good fit for our defensive needs. He’s young and physical and played with a great team attitude last year. He seemed to pick up the Hurricanes systems fairly quickly once he was inserted into the lineup. I like the kid and what he brings to the ice. I hope he gets a chance to show us more of what he’s got. If anyone other than Kaberle is hanging out in the press box for this to happen, I will be very displeased.
Observations from the RBC Center:
- The defense was nowhere and everywhere (they weren’t supposed to be) at the same time. Bad pinches and general disorganization seemed to be a theme in the game.
- If you have ever questioned the value of Jussi Jokinen, I think his absence last night spoke volumes. The Finns and Skinns line works. And without the Juice, much shuffling had to be done. It left a huge void in the offense. There’s a reason I panicked when the Juice went down the other night with a leg injury.
- It was Jamie McBain’s 100th NHL game. Unfortunately it was a stinker. McBain struggled last night. The consolation was this is not his normal play and he certainly didn’t stand out, as everyone looked bad.
- I was disappointed in the crowd turnout for this game. Attendance was recorded at 15,489 and there were a lot of empty seats around the arena. This was a Friday night contest against a division rival. If that doesn’t pack people in, I don’t know what will. On the other hand, that game was a hot mess. But no one knew that before they got there.
- On second thought, those who elected to stay home did not have to spend their evening with the Caps fans that certainly did not bring anything positive to our barn as visitors. “C-A-P-S, Caps! Caps! Caps”! You can spell. That’s great. Now go home.*
- I thought Eric Staal was going to have an aneurysm by the end of the game. His frustration was palpable. The whole teams’ was.
- Cam Ward. Oh Cam Ward. He did not have a great game but that whole score was not on Cam Ward. Anthony Stewart admitted in a post game chat that they left Wardo out to dry last night.
- I spent all week worrying about Alex Ovechkin coming in with something to prove after his mid-week benching. Turned out that was the least of our worries.
Tomorrow the Canes face the (8-2-0) Dallas Stars who are sitting on top of the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the San Jose Sharks. It’s another home game at the RBC Center and starts at 1:30 EST. The game is not being televised locally. Who knows. That may be a good thing.
* Miss Hockey Manners was not in attendance last night. Her alter ego, Miss Hockey If You Act Like Jerks I Might Lose my Temper, attended in her place. She had no trouble finding candidates. For all things Stars head over to our sister site Blackout Dallas. To read post game thoughts from the Caps (ok they are mainly insults), head over to Capitals Outsider.
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Topics: Alexander Ovechkin, Anthony Stewart, Bad Call, Cam Ward, Cody Eakin, Eric Staal, Hershey Bears, Hot Mess, Jamie McBain, Jay Harrison, Jeff Halpern, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Jussi Jokinen, Marcus Johansson, Michal Neuvirth, Mike Knuble, Nicklas Backstrom, Paul Maurice, Tomas Kaberle, Troy Brouwer, Visiting Fans, Washington Capitals