Caps Take Southeast Division Lead

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a long time coming. The boys are back. The boys are back. The boys are back. And they’re looking for trouble.”

The Capitals played these Dropkick Murphys lyrics during last night’s Washington Capitals 2-1 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. And I wondered, are the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals who won the 2010 Presidents’ Trophy really back? Well, the Braden Holtby-led Capitals who took first place in the Southeast division are looking pretty good.

Here are the “snapshots” I would have taken if I were rink side with the photographers (instead of in the press box):

Snapshots 1 to 38

Well, let’s start with Holtby. While he certainly made some impressive saves, Holtby’s night was spectacular due to his consistency and control of the game. I thought it was his best performance of the year. The first star of the game made 35 saves, plus stopped all three shootout attempts by New York. Holtby has been on a roll: 6 wins in the last 9 games with a goals against average of 2.19.

Snapshot 39

Dale Hunter. Yes, I know Dale Hunter is no longer the coach of the Capitals, but the Capitals first period would have made Dale proud. Each team allowed only five shots as the game was largely played in neutral ice. And the Capitals took the lead with 13.9 seconds remaining in the first on a Mike Green goal. Of course if Hunter were still coach, he probably would have pulled Ovechkin in the second and third periods for a more defensive lineup.

Snapshot 40

Welcome, Martin Erat. Erat joined the team yesterday with Michael Latta from Nashville for Flip Forsberg, a trade, for the record, I am not a big fan of. Erat played well. Even though he had no shots in 14:43 of ice time, he registered three hits, including a huge check in the first on Colin McDonlad.

Snapshot 41

Jack Hillen’s “scuffle” with John Tavares with less than one minute to go in the first. Tavares had a one-on-one opportunity and Hillen played him aggressively. Tavares did not get off a shot. Tavares was not pleased and knocked Hillen on his back after the play. Tavares was ineffective last night, taking only one shot. He was also stopped by Holtby in the shootout, sealing the Capitals victory.

Snapshot 42

John Carlson played a great game. In a game dominated by defense, Carlson led the time with a season high six hits and two blocked shots.

Snapshots 43 to 48

In a defensive game, the defensemen also led the way on offense. The six defensemen took nine shots and scored the only goal. John Carlson led all Capitals with four shots.

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