Sixteen minutes into last night’s home opener against the Calgary Flames, things looked bleak for the Capitals. 3-0. But to the delight of the 18,000+ fans, the Capitals staged a 5-4 shootout comeback.
Here are the “snapshots” I would have taken if I were rinkside with the photographers (instead of in the press box):
Snapshot 1: The power play units this season consisting of Alex Ovechkin (2 goals), Mikhail Grabovski (2 goals), Nicklas Backstrom (1 goal), Mike Green, Marcus Johannson, Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer. The Capitals power play has scored 5 goals in two games (two last night), while the Capital’s penalty kill has yielded only two goals. By contrast, the Capitals have been outscored 7 to 3 on 5 on 5 hockey.
Coach Adam Oates expressed concern over the Capitals relying too heavily on power play scoring. He joked after the game that Ovi “took 45 shots on the power play.”
Snapshot 2: Braden Holtby sitting on the bench, mask off, after being pulled sixteen minutes into the game. In two games, Holtby has given up 8 goals in 76 minutes of work. Oates confirmed after the game that he still had confidence in Holtby. “Everybody has hiccups.”
Snapshot 3: Conner Carrick, the 19 year old rookie defenseman, covered in shaving cream in the locker room after the game (first NHL goal). After a rough first game on Tuesday, a late defensive help that led to a Flames goal and an unnecessary hooking penalty, Carrick put the Capitals on the board with a break away goal out of his release from the penalty box past Flames Karri Ramo’s extended left leg.
Snapshot 4: Tom Wilson, the other 19 year old rookie (right wing), flipping Flames Lance Bouma in a ferocious fight midway in the first period. Wilson finished with 2 shots, 2 hits and 5 penalty minutes.
Snapshots 5 thru whatever: The last 6 seconds of regulation with the score tied 4 to 4, I would have put the camera on burst mode. 3 or so frames per second. The Capitals were caught in a line change and Michal Neuvirth, Holty’s replacement, faced (and stopped) multiple close-range shots. After a three-goal comeback, it would have been devastating for the Capitals to lose that way.
Snapshot 6: The Capitals seemed to play very defensive in the five minute overtime period. Alex Ovechkin seemed to be rarely on the ice. In the press box, we speculated that the Capitals were playing for the shootout. At the post-game press conference, Oates was asked if this was the strategy, and he emphatically said no.
Snapshots 7 and 8: In the shootout, Ovechkin and Grabovski scored on their attempts on mirror image shots. Grabovski backhand over Ramo’s left shoulder,and Ovechkin backhand over Ramo’s right shoulder.
After two games, Ovechkin and Grabovski lead the NHL in goals (3, tied with Radim Vrbata) and points (5). Backstrom, Green and Johansson lead the league in assists (3, tied with Dustin Byfuglien and Alex Tanguay). Unfortunately Holtby is 28th (out of 29) in goals against average (6.32).
Ovechkin led the team in goals (2), points (3, tied with Johansson), shots (11) and hits (5).