It bears worth repeating even if it's been said a lot recently. The Caps had their backs against the wall facing the defending Cup champs without their three biggest stars. Their odds didn't look good. As it turned out, there really wasn't much cause to worry.
No Green. No Backstrom. No Ovi. No problem.
Who needs them when you have Matthieu Perreault? Okay, maybe that was a bit much. I had an idea to inject as much French into the article as I possibly could to honor Perreault. Then I realized how utterly creepy, not to mention how Pierre McGuire-esque it would be. So I'll just stick with saying that Matty P got himself a nice tour de chapeau. That's a hat trick to you and me. More on this later.
So despite a mediocre output of 22 shots, the Caps managed to best the Cup champs, with Tim Thomas' White House snub as the backdrop. Some would say that was the more important story although it has absolutely nothing to do with who may or may not qualify for the playoffs. Not me. I would rather focus on what happened on the ice. Can't say as I blame Thomas though. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. just isn't quite what it used to be. Place must be losing its tourist appeal.
So back to the game--yes we were all nervous, but one Cap in particular had an extra spring in his step with the notion of being placed on the top line. I'll give you one hint, his jersey number matches the same year that all this was in effect. Nine thousand for a new car? Oh, if only......
Things certainly didn't look like they'd end well, at least if you were judging by the first goal of the game. Rich Peverley, that son-of-a-Beverley put a shot on net that was harmlessly deflected by Karl Alzner. Or at least that was his intent. Minus one for you, Karl. Plus one for the ol' fantasy team at least.
The second period was much better as the Caps got off to a fast start with Cody Eakin getting them on the board. Perreault followed with his first of the game 41 seconds later. The two teams would end up riding the see-saw the rest of the period as they traded goals, including Perreault's second on a beautiful steal and breakaway. Unfortunately Perreault later got called for a hook and on the ensuing Bruin power play Brad Marchand, he of the illegal low hit, scored to tie that game. The teams would end the period tied at 3 apiece.
Speaking of see-saw play, John Carlson had himself a schizophrenic night. He did look good at times, getting credit for blocking 4 shots. However, he also had that bad pass that was picked off by Steve Kampfer and finished off by Tyler Seguin. Good Carlson, Bad Carlson. We'll work on that one.
A few words about the goaltending. Tomas Vokoun stopped 29 of 32 and wasn't overly spectacular, but he did what he had to in keeping the Caps in the game. Assuming the offense can keep up its current pace, all we need is for Vokoun to stop the shots he's supposed to stop and some of the ones he's not supposed to stop. So far, so good. And even when he slips, Michal Neuvirth has proven to be more than adept at coming off the bench.
There were a lot of good goals in this game. But the featured goal of course was the game winner, which was a thing of beauty. Marcus Johansson began the play from the right wing boards with a beautiful, yet risky, blind pass to the point. Luckily enough, Roman Hamrlik was there to corral it, just barely keeping it in the zone. It can't be overstated how much his play has improved as of late. After his marvelous keep-in, he flung the puck on net where it bounced off of Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask's pads. Ready and waiting for the rebound was the game's hero, Perreault. Snapping up that rebound, he easily lifted it over the sprawling Rask for his third of the game.
And the hats came a-rainin' down after that. Not to mention peoples' plans to order Papa John's for today.
In the closing seconds, Dennis Wideman flipped a seeing-eye puck 180 feet into the empty net for the insurance marker. Happy fans with thoughts of full stomachs from pizza tomorrow--what could be better?
Though Perreault was the game's obvious number one star and Hamrlik and Alex Semin ably assisted him, we should give credit to some unsung heroes. Specifically the fourth line of Jay Beagle, Cody Eakin, and Joel Ward. They worked their collective butt off every time they were on the ice and even chipped in a goal. Ward ought to get props just for the hits he was absorbing from Zdeno Chara.
Naturally, Perreault's performance merited some extra on-camera time. Smokin' Al Koken was there for the honors. But poor Matthieu didn't even get to answer the first question before getting the ceremonial attack of celebration from a surprise guest. Selfish? Petulant? I think not. More like team-building, which is what a Captain should be all about. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, NHL.
Up next? Well, it's a nice week-long break. Hopefully we'll have a lot of healing going on, both mentally and physically. And, In Matthieu Perreault's case, perhaps ophthalmologically. No offense to Dennis Wideman and the other 40-odd All Stars, but I think I'll take my cue from Ovi and skip the All Star, uh, festivities (yeah that's it) this year. You can only dress up a pig in so many ways, but at the end of the day it's still a pig.
Simply put, the All Star game has pretty much lost it's meaning. This is something I plan on discussing in the next podcast which is this coming weekend. Since there won't be any games between now and next week, look for the next show, plus a mid season report and not much else before the next game vs. Tampa Bay next Tuesday.
Until then, keep the faith and C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS!!!!!