Killer win, unbelievable effort by an obviously inspired team. Coach Hunter did a good job in getting his troops ready for last night's match. Matthieu Perreault got back on the scoreboard with the opener and game winner 13 seconds into the contest. Alex Ovechkin potted a pair of goals to bring his season total to 22 and Jason Chimera added a shorthanded goal. Throw in Tomas Vokoun's 42 saves to ice the win and.......WHAT?
Yeah, you heard me. Forty-two saves. That's a four with a two behind it only it's all one number. As spectacular as that number seems what is truly mind-numbing is the fact that Vokoun was required to stop that many shots in the first place. If you think the Caps can keep this up for the rest of the season into the playoffs, you're wrong. I don't even need to argue--the standings are already telling me I'm right.
Do I have a right to kvetch even with a dominating win that results in reduced price pizza? Some of you may not think so. I happen to think I do. I understand that a team can ride a hot goalie into the playoffs and beyond. So with two blankers in the last three games, Evil Kounevil seems to be that guy, right? As much as I want to believe it, his entire body of work for this season says otherwise. Regardless, the Law of Averages is working against the Caps. There's simply no way, even at his best, that Vokoun can keep this up. And believe me, I will not ignore the fact that he has been outstanding lately.
But I've said it before--even the best goalies give up a few for every 30-odd shots they face. So what happens when Vokoun or Neuvirth has an off night? Well you would think the offense would have to compensate. But to assume that they could would imply that they are still capable of boat racing (def. #3) their opponents and they're not. This is a different Caps team, one that has yet to figure out who the hell they are from night to night.
Bottom line--I'm happy with the win and the fact that they pretty much outplayed the Panthers last night. So much so that the Panthers looked disinterested later in the game. That is, if you can call a team that still managed 32 shots in the last 40 minutes of play disinterested.
I'll finish by asking the magical question--Can you consider it a dominating win even though they really gave the Kitties chance after chance to get back into the game?
All I'm saying is that it is far from time to anoint the Caps the once and future Southeast Division champs, no matter how good they look at times. Was it an important game they had to win? Yes. Did they deliver when their backs were against the wall. Damn right they did. Does it mean they've turned the corner, though? Nope. Not by a longshot. So stay tuned because this thing is still very far from over. But it's a great first step.