The Washington Capitals are not a very good hockey team right now. In fact, they're kind of awful (or kind of offal, if you prefer a homophone that still sort of vaguely works).
This, of course, pleases me greatly. Especially when they get to play the Philadelphia Flyers and lose to them 5-1 at home.
- Washington was offense-first for most of the past several years, playing the kind of hockey that lit up Corsi sheets and led people who don't follow hockey with their eyes to think that they were consistently the best team in the league. But under Dale Hunter, the Caps have made the bold decision not to play any offense at all. It's really quite wonderful to watch. Despite two power plays in the frame, the Caps managed only five shots in the first period. How that is possible I really do not know, but it was fun to watch
- Alex Ovechkin's drop is especially noticeable right now. He always looked like he was a video game character on the ice, and he still does, but it seems like the AI is no longer showing Atari-like deftness at shutting him down.
- Semin is also still one of the players in the league that I would least want on the Flyers, but at least he seems to be channeling his bitterness into physicality these days.
- Sadly, seasons can be cyclical, so this all might not last much longer for our friends in red. It was only two months ago that the Flyers were on the other end of a 5-1 loss, so who knows. Maybe the Caps will return the favor in February or something. Or maybe the Caps will have gone back to struggling to breaking five-digit attendance by then. It was emmmmmpty in there tonight, even before the second intermission exodus.
- Uh, I guess I should probably talk about the Flyers, too. They're really good. Without their two best players, they absolutely rolled. Combined with the Penguins' and Rangers' losses, their grip on first tightens with the win. The Caps, meanwhile, moved into sole possession of 12th.
- Pronger schmonger, amirite? Maybe Mike Richards wasn't the issue. Maybe this team just is better without any captain at all?
- Bryzgalov again showed tonight why he was worth the money. Those were not easy saves he was making. Vokoun, on the other hand, made the Caps look like they got what they paid for. With all the devaluation of goalies that has become so en vogue lately, it was nice to see a game (with my eyes, mind you) in which it was a clear, indisputable factor. On another note, the Caps fan tradition of saluting Neuvirth with "Nuuuuuuuuuuuu" and then getting into arguments with one another over whether or not that reflects accurate pronunciation never fails to amuse me.
- I also should take a moment here to discuss the hero of the day, Fuckin' Marc-Andre Bourdon: Bad Ass Mother-Fucker (FMAB:BAMF). After seeking my counsel as to the location of his bus, FMAB:BAMF turned over a new leaf in his career, scoring his first career goal and generally beasting all over the ice. It was something to see.
- Timonen, his fellow defenseman, was on the opposite end of a beasting tonight, getting headshotted by a referee in one of the more bizarre plays I've seen. If our Finn is concussed as a result, I won't be amused.
- Coburn made one of the best and easiest plays of the game on Alex Ovechkin in the second period, lackadaisically taking the puck from the (once-)Great 8 and turning the play up ice to lead to a Flyer dagger.
- Hartnell continued his recent amazingness, scoring his 200th career goal and sixth in six games.
- Ergo, this Rothenboost business is no joke, yo.
Semper paratus: A group sitting in front of me whipped out not one but two large Czech flags to gleefully wave when Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers' fifth goal. That, my friends, is dedication. Speaking of the crowd, it was decidedly more orange (Flyersy) and purple (empty) than in recent years for Flyers-Caps games. I know there's all sorts of factors (StubHub, scalping, etc.) that go into filling an arena, but this can't be good for hockey in DC. And to think it was only two years ago that I overheard that guy on the metro sincerely say that Detroit's title of Hockeytown should be officially given to Washington.
After the jump, questions answered and a comment of the day.
- How does Sean Couturier look on the top line tonight? Honestly, not great. He's just not an explosive guy, offensively.
- What's the reaction to Jaromir Jagr from the DC crowd? They booed at first, but apathy quickly took over.
- What's the impact of losing Claude Giroux for a full game? With Giroux in the lineup, the Flyers probably would have won this one 8-1 instead of 5-1.
- Any noticeable differences between Dale Hunter's Capitals and Bruce Boudreau's Caps? Yes. Bruce Boudreau seemed to understand that outscoring the other team was crucial to winnning. I don't understand how Dale Hunter, who once coached DSOD of all people, could be so anti-offense.
- Over/under on Jody Shelley ice time set at 3 minutes. So, over or under? Way over. Guy was a rock star tonight (seriously).
Comment of the Day:
Uh, do you know where the bus is? Like my bus? For us? --FMAB:BAMF