The Washington Capitals came up with a much needed win against the Minnesota Wild. I'd like to say that I am impressed with both the effort and the result....
I say I would like to say that, but I won't.
The reason I'm unimpressed is because that the Capitals not only needed this win like a fish needs water, but that they also should have won this game. The fact of the matter is that the Minnesota Wild have defined "tailspin" since about two months into the season. Their spiral has been so bad that this ought to be their theme song for this season. The fact that the Caps did win 3-0 and looked only like marginally like a playoff team speaks volumes.
It sounds strange to say this given the calls to run him out of town, especially here at the Power Play Point, but Alex Semin is quietly giving this team a chance to win. On top of that, no longer is he doing the "bad" things to put them in trouble. He set up the first goal admirably, outmaneuvering Clayton Stoner and sliding the puck to a charging Jason Chimera for his 19th.
Perfect tic-tac-toe drawing between Troy Bouwer, Alex Ovechkin, and Matthieu Perreault to finish on the power play. But was it a power play they should have had to begin with? More on this later.
And to put the exclamation point on it all was Alex Ovechkin. The classic Great Eight goal where he flies down the wing and blasts it with all his might past the goalie. This goal might not been more than an extra insurance marker on the surface. But it meant so much more when you put it in the context of Friday's heart-grinding loss. That goal should be a reminder that this team should NEVER take its collective foot off the gas.
How about Alex Ovechkin getting back on the play and blocking Mikko Koivu's scoring chance? Alex Ovechkin backchecking.....'nuff said.
Sorry Caps fans, but Clayton Stoner got called for a penalty he shouldn't have. If you can find a replay, check out how the puck magically changes its angle a split second after it leaves his stick. That doesn't happen unless it hits something mid-flight, which it did--Mike Knuble's stick. Stoner would go the box and the resulting power play goal probably caused a fit that would have given new meaning to his last name.
Braden Holtby finally looked like he was in the groove that earned him an extended look last year. He stopped all 28 shots and looked considerably less sloppy covering his angles. Had this game not been nationally televised, he would no doubt have won the steak dinner.
And so as of this posting our Washington Capitals are once again in a playoff spot. How long they will hold onto it is anyone's guess. While I have no doubt the Caps will give it their best with two weeks to go, I'm doubtful as to whether or not it will be enough. Because they're just not consistent enough for my liking. Tomorrow night comes the showdown of showdowns--Buffalo. We had damn sure better come up with a better effort than last Friday.
Am I hopeful? Yes. Am I optimistic....well that's a different story. I'm sure I'm not the only one as the Verizon Center has sounded like a tomb recently. This team has to show us something or else there's nothing to get excited about. Playoff races are exciting, but not so much when the feeling of blowing it grows like a fungus.
To end--there is good news on top of good news: Nicklas Backstrom has been cleared for full practice with the team. Timetable is still unknown at this point, but it's 100% better than where he was a few weeks ago.