Hopefully you weren't so busy watching/reenacting Glee last night that you missed an absolutely Cap-tastic hockey game. It looks like the Caps we know and love finally showed up for realsies. Montreal was good, but they got lucky. Boston was actually great, but they were playing against Boston...and on NBC... so ya know, waste of time for all. But last night's division game not only had true meaning, but it surpassed all expectations by miles.
Dale Hunter said the game had a "play-off" feeling to it going into the evening, a pretty much must-win situation in order for the Caps to retake the lead of the SE division over the Panthers (and 3rd place in the conference). I don't know what he said in the locker room or what those guys ate for dinner, but they came out guns a'blazin'. Matty P got the GWG just 13 seconds off the first face-off. Ovechkin had 2 gorgeous Ovi-esque wristers, and Chimmers got a shortie. Ward actually looked like the guy we are supposedly paying him to be. MoJo ("MarJo") was an incredible playmaker. Wides took 2 stupid trips to the sin bin, but was good on the blue line. Pretty sure Brooksie is a cyborg or an autobot or X-Man since his knee got totally creamed on Sunday and he still played a great (albeit limited) game last night.... DO wore a full cage to remind him not to stop pucks with his nose. And Tomas "The Vokoun" Vokoun stopped 42 shots. 42! Fourth shutout of the season, second shutout against the Cats of the season, and 2nd shutout of the week!
Other story, the boys got outshot again. By a lot, but they were so far ahead, didn't reaaallly matter. HOWEVER, they could've easily reverted back to the old timey-Caps from the days of yore when a 3 goal lead meant they would still probably lose. The forecheck was SO good at times and they were killing the cycle and winning along the boards, but they still gave up too many opportunities. If the Panthers weren't so completely out of it last night, the game would've been a lot closer. They shot from all over and made attempts to crash the net. Lucky for us, Vokie was on point, our defensive play around the net was decent, and the Panthers kept missing golden opportunities. .
So here's my question: was this the plan all along? Over the summer, the Caps were heavily favored to go to the Cup this year and after 7 straight wins to start the season, it seemed like a done deal... and then it didn't. At first it seemed like just a little bump in the road, then it seemed like growing pains with a new coach/system, and as of late, it's seemed like a giant clusterf**** and no one even cares. Then... you see last night... and you wonder, were they keeping all of that amazingness underwraps for a reason? Have they been purposefully crapping out so that they could make a huge comeback and dominate the end half of the season so that they are red-hot going into the playoffs and on track to get the Cup?? Or are they floundering around so that they still lose, but look impressive enough to get bright, shiny new players on the off-season when they blow up the team? Husband is wearing his tinfoil hat these days and is pretty sure the Caps are doing this on purpose. He's taking it kind of personally and its really making him ornery. We've had some heated debates over the status of the boys in red. So for the sake of my still new and happy marriage, I need the Caps to get it together and stop messing with us. Just crash the net, get all the points, and bring home the Stanley Freakin' Cup.
Going into Thursday, its now up to the Caps to combine their energy, aggressiveness, and all around bad-assyness from last night's game with their willingness to shoot the puck at every opportunity from Sunday's game to beat the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow night. Ovi needs to score, the forecheck needs to be aggressive, and The Vokoun needs to stay stalwart in the net. If they can keep the momentum up into the tough stretch of games ahead, they play-offs will be theirs. If not, well... summer will come early for the good citizens of Capsland. SO... rock the red, let's go caps, and UNLEASH THE FURY!!
And now for your viewing/listening pleasure: