After an admittedly subpar effort and result in Minnesota on Thursday, the Caps came into Calgary on a busy Saturday hoping to regain something of their form from last year. I was just hoping we would see the team that won against Carolina on Wednesday. Well, this being Halloween we got the treat and almost a trick...by Alex Ovechkin no less. Two goals by the Captain and both came on the power play! Thirteen (some said twelve) seconds apart! I'm not ready to pronounce this team or the power play as "back" but certainly one Captain Ovechkin is on his game again.
Something else I was pleasantly surprised to see was Michal Neuvirth back in net. With Semyon Varlamov out (still) on IR, Neuvy got his ninth start and his 10th game appearance. Does "Neuvirth" translate into "workhorse" in Czech? He's played in all but one of the 11 games so far and looks like he's not slowing down any time soon. Have we found the heir to Olie Kolzig? I'm hoping so. I'm also hoping he doesn't get overused...I know he's got a lot of energy, but too many games between now and April and he'll be burnt out for the playoffs. For this game, though, it was another masterful performance, 27 saves on 29 shots.
So how about that second period? Unreal. They get one at the end of the first and torched the Flames for six in the next period. That is what some folks would call a turkey shoot. Yes I know...wrong holiday. But hey, this from the country that has Christmas sales in September....
Something I saw that makes me believe in hockey karma...well, two things actually. First, the Matt Bradley goal. No, not because of the fluky way it went in although that was an amazing sight. It was because Cory Sarich put it in his own net. I will explain...
A couple of minutes earlier Sarich laid a hit on David Steckel in the offensive zone. The hit was to say the least, questionable. It was to say the most, illegal. Or it is by my understanding of this renewed crusade of eliminating blindside hits anyway. Steckel had just released the puck and actually had his back turned to the Flames goal. Depending on the angle you could say that he either came in from the side or from behind. Either way it is a "blindside" hit--the same one that everybody's gotten their popcorn in a knob about lately. So why wasn't a penalty called? The lead referee on the play even had a good view of it and did nothing. Thank goodness Steckel didn't seem to be too shaken up from it. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong but it sure looked like a blindside hit to me.
In any case the second thing that happened was that David Steckel scored....WHAT? David Steckel scored? Yes, David Steckel scored. On a penalty shot, no less. He stole the puck while killing a penalty and tore up the ice on a breakaway...WHAT? David Steckel got a breakaway? Yes, now stop that, darn it!
Really after that there wasn't much to do but sit through the third and hope the game wouldn't deteriorate into a giant brawl, which thankfully it didn't. I'm just wondering who got the "hard hat" award after the game in the Caps' locker room? My money is on Matt Bradley for his goal or Mike Green for scoring in his backyard.
Now it is fun to see the Caps win this way, but it's good to know that they can now also win the close, tight-checking games when the offense isn't so explosive. They proved that in Carolina. They proved they can win their regular way in Calgary. Put them together and how dangerous could this team be? I've said it before and it's still true--the regular season is a breeding ground for a team's character. Character which the Caps' critics said that they lack. You answer those critics by showing them you can get it done in any type of game. So with one month behind us, let's see them plow ahead and just win, no matter what gets thrown at them--the great teams always find a way.
.....and now for some fun!
I'm not sure what Alex Semin is trying to do here but, I know you don't get always get the puck by begging for it.
Hmm, looks like Jarome Iginla is taking the concept of "crash the net" a step further? Or maybe he thinks if he can hide from his coach he won't get called out again!
And finally, you can say whatever you want about Alex Ovechkin, but you have to hand it to him, he always finds a way to get past the defense. Or maybe he's just "hoppy" to be there.
Next up, it's back to the Verizon Center where they will host the Leafs on Wednesday. Maybe Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry will wear something special for the occasion. Warm up the highlight reel, Grapes, this one should be a beauty!