In Alex Ovechkin's much anticipated return to the lineup from his suspension, the real story would be how badly would the Canadiens roll over in the game. Trust me because I've seen a lot of it from my own team this year--they looked like a defeated team. But this is a Capitals' blog, not a Canadiens one, so as much as I respect the history of one of the charter members of the NHL, I'm not here to discuss their woes. The Caps have had enough of their own lately.
You would expect that the Captain would have come out snorting fire from the get-go. Indeed it looked that way at first, with his blast of Josh Gorges (pronounced "Georges") early in the first period. Don't worry folks, it was a perfectly legal hit, so no Shana-hammer will be involved. Gorges (pronounced "Georges") is fine, but maybe with his new contract he can afford to hire someone to teach him how to spell his own name.
Unfortunately for Ovechkin, that would be all that we would hear from him save for one official shot on goal later on. Hopefully he's just shaking off the rust from inactivity. Fortunately for the Caps, the rest of the team picked up the slack. Here be the Yays and Boos for the game:
Yay! For Dennis Wideman's shot from the point to give the Caps the opening lead, and eventually, the win. If you get a chance, watch the highlight video. This shot is the very essence of "knucklepuck."
Boo! For the fact that Wideman is doing all the work Mike Green would normally be doing. Unfortunately, no one is stepping up and doing the things that Wideman normally does. This was pointed out on a certain podcast, who, despite their douchebaggery, does actually make astute assumptions at times.
Yay! For Matt Hendricks recent goal scoring surge. He now has goals in two of his last three games.
Boo! For another Matt's sudden demise back to the third/fourth lines after being so productive in El Capitano's absence. Monsieur Perreault usually performs well in front of the home crowd, but managed only one shot in just over 12 minutes of playing time.
Yay! For Alex Semin's beautiful slapper past Peter Budaj on the penalty shot to clinch the game.
Boo! For his overall lack of production. Let's hope he gets hot these next few weeks to at least provide some warmth to what's been a frigid trade season so far.
Yay! For Brooks Laich's wonderful all-around performance. Truly playing the role of a utility forward, he did it all--faceoffs, shot-blocking and assisting on two goals.
Boo! For not making him the third star of the game at least.
And finally Yay for Tomas Vokoun's performance that resulted in win number 21 for the year and his third shutout. The fact that it was the Canadiens shouldn't diminish this accomplishment as he did have to turn aside 30 shots. The exclamation point was when he stoned Tomas Plekanec towards the end of the game. Boo for the fact that he did have to make 10 saves in each period, however. This is not a good sign when you're supposed to be more defensively responsible.
More of my $ .02 here.....this was yet another game the Caps should have won and in fact did. It has now been well documented that the Caps have a motivational issue. We're coming into the last third of the season and another division title is far from assured. Hell, a playoff berth is far from a sure thing at this point. EVERY game at this point should be life or death and should be played like it. And if a coaching change couldn't instill that attitude, I'm not sure what will. Other than the unthinkable---a roster blowup. It may take just that. Sometimes you have some extra pieces that do nothing but make a lot of noise when rattled. It might be time to just get rid of some if not all of those rattling parts.
No rest for the weary. It's home sweet home for a Nationally televised matinee against the defending Cup Champs, the Bruins. No word on whether or not Tim Thomas is staying in the Lincoln bedroom overnight.