Seems like old times, eh? Exciting game, one goal differential, physical play, and of course an overtime game winning goal. End result the same--a Caps' win. Only it sure didn't look like it was going to happen at first.
Tuesday night's win against the Bruins seemed to be yet another one of those times where you'd think the Caps have turned the corner. They may well have, but falling behind 3-0 like they did isn't the way to prove it. But to quote Jiggs McDonald, still the Caps were capable of a comeback, and they did. Personally though, I would feel better about this team had they not fallen behind the way they did in the first place.
Dopey penalties, lazy play, and somewhat suspect goaltending. It looked as though the Caps from earlier this season were back to stay. But in the end, as so many members of the team would mention in their respective post game statements, they stuck to the system and kept playing their game.
A word or two about Alex Ovechkin. When he is good, he's very good. Sometimes. When he is bad, well.... Let's just say that he needs to start keeping his stick to himself. At least when Brad Marchand is around. That and the Verizon Center ice crew may want to start reinforcing the anchors that hold the nets in place. That and whatever the penalty timekeeper used to give Alex Semin he should now give to Ovechkin. But he at least was a factor in the crucial first goal that began the comeback. He corralled a point shot from rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy and whipped it to an open Mike Ribiero who put it away.
Braden Holtby. A name that normally inspires images of stellar goaltending. Sometimes anyway. He bounced back from a wobbly first period and played shutout hockey for over 40 minutes. This means he hasn't allowed a goal in five of the last six periods he's played. But when the margin of error is so thin, you can't afford a near meltdown and that's what he narrowly avoided. Maybe he could have had that penalty shot. Or Dougie Hamilton's power play marker. Regardless, the Caps need just a bit more consistency from their current number one goalie. Maybe I'm being harsh, but again...the margin of error is razor thin right now.
Nick Backstrom made not have made the three stars but he probably played his best game of the year, winning key draws and creating lots of scoring chances in the last two periods.
Lest we forget Eric Fehr. Yes I said bringing him back was a joke. But he sure is making George McPhee look like a genius for bringing him back. Not only does he score goals, he scores the crucial goals. Which is something Alex Ovechkin used to do once upon a time. His game winner was something that legends are made of; that kind of drive to the net is the kind of tenacity this team badly needs right now.
Barry Srvluga wrote an article in today's Washington Post, the premise of which is that the Caps are going to have to rely on the current roster to dig them out of the hole they are still in. And reading the article over it can be implied that their ability to do so seems at best questionable. I would like to point out however several things--for every missing Mike Green there is indeed a John Carlson. For every missed game by Dmitry Orlov there is Tomas Kundratek. No Brooks Laich? No problem, Joel Ward is doing just fine, thank you. And yes, Nicklas Backstrom is indeed starting to get his game back--he was the one who set up Fehr's game winner. He may only have 2 goals so far this season but is also tied with Mike Ribiero for the team lead in assists.
I said before that the team is playing better because they have bought into the system--different players stepping up is yet another sign.
To all that, if you add just a bit more consistency from Braden Holtby (might be time to consider sitting him down for a game), and a LOT more on the defensive side of the puck from the Captain, this team just might have something. There is just barely enough time for this team to at least make things interesting. And we all know they will--for better or for worse.