This is not disaster, this is a scratch on the finish of your '65 Shelby Cobra. We still have the best team in the league--time to pick ourselves up and see what we're made of.
Of course we may have to at some point address the problem of what it is with us and Rogers Arena. I don't know if it's built on indian burial grounds or where the Caps voodoo dolls are hidden in the walls of that stadium, but it's now been ten years since the Caps have won at Vancouver. Ten years. Now that's just weird.
Anyyyway. Reluctantly to the recap. I wonder if I could fool those of you who didn't see the game and write that we won?
So the first period was hellish. I do not exaggerate--it was hockey like unto the hockey that they probably make you play in Hell as part as your eternal damnation, in order to drive you crazy and make you mad. The Canucks came out with all the fierceness of hungry Vancouver orcas and it seemed like we couldn't even make it out of our own zone for at least the first five minutes of play. We had puck possession for maybe a millisecond, and every time it seemed like we were putting something together, we got jumped on, dumped the puck, and spent the rest of our lives chasing it down.
Vokoun is keeping us in it at first, as I have come to expect him to do. He's quick to shake me out of this complacency by doing that weird Vokoun thing he does where he lets in that first awful, freak goal--gets out of the net to play the puck, and the puck ends up not quite where he expected it to be. Namely, on Maxim Lapierre's stick.
Yeah, see, Sasha's face right here? That was basically my face.
The Canucks are bowling for Capitals--for some reason they've decided to hit us early, often, and everywhere. I wonder why that could possibly be.
Hockey strategy is so great, guys.
Perrault is getting tossed around like a rag doll--at one point he gets sandwiched between three, literally three guys. This is an entirely new viewing experience and I'm sure it's not a lot of fun for him, either.
We're still getting very, very little zone time, and everyone is getting flattened. I'm developing an intense dislike of Volpatti.
Brouwer draws a penalty and thank God for that, because we really need to get our feet under us, here. You'd think that a man advantage would help, but the puck gets cleared basically instantly and we're highly disorganized even when we retrieve it. I miss Mike Green.
West coast road trips: when I swear loudly on accident while everyone else is asleep.
All is not lost. The first line starts driving hard at the net, and the Canucks announcer calls Ovechkin a "tiger after his prey".
Accurate. At least if his prey was a tying goal.
It's one of those hardworking, dirty goals that he's been learning about and like absolutely everything he does--he's getting good at them. He bounces, yells, runs into the glass. God, it's been awhile since I've seen him that excited, and it's fantastic to see a smile on his face.
There's a defensive play from Semin! Caring sighted in real time! But overall the goal is a bright spot in the middle of some more Terrible. We are stuck in our own end again. Send help.
We hi-stick a bitch.
Well, kind of. Very strange replay, turns out Kesler got hit in the...ribs? By possibly his...own stick? Still unsure. Regardless, I guess it's a penalty--because trying to fend off the already-surging Canucks is exactly what we need right now.
Fortunately Vancouver seems committed to wasting most of their PP wandering around in their own zone. What a long setup--but once it gets going it's got some bite to it--a few stellar saves from Vokoun but then Higgins gets a shot on goal, and the most stellar save yet--Vokoun somehow slides the whole length of the goal to get his leg across, there's a rebound and...nobody's there to clear it. Nobody's there to anything. Except Chris Higgins.
Immediately Vokoun has to save our bacon again, when there's a massive defensive breakdown from Sean Collins--to be fair, it's the first big error I've seen from him. Sean Collins is not a bad a. person, b. defenseman, but he's a stopgap. The problem is that you just can't replace what Mike Green does for this team, and we certainly felt that tonight. Easily could have been another goal and wasn't. Collins owes Vokoun a steak dinner.
I was texting a friend during this next sequence, and the conversation went something like this:
her: WHAT? what happened?
me: SEMIN. GUESS. I'LL GIVE YOU THREE GUESSES.
me: NOPE GUESS AGAIN.
her: stick penalty?
Yep. Stick penalty.
There's some good work initially on the PK, and some gushing about Carlzner--I was on a Vancouver feed and it's always interesting to hear what they talk about, and in this instance they are smart enough to know that those kids are spectacular. They do spectacular things here, despite our inability to win a faceoff, and halfway through the penalty, Ryan Kesler gets called for hooking right back.
There's a scrum around the net and it seems to be mostly focused around Hendricks destroying people for getting in his netminder's face. Excellent. Not going to complain about that, except if you're Kevin Bieksa. He and Hendricks have words, and I'm sure they're about his Christmas plans, and how his mother is doing.
We get about a half a PP, and we actually take pretty good advantage of it, everything looks beautiful and Backstrom and Semin are putting on a stickhandling clinic.
Someone should tell them that they don't get any points for pretty.
So no points, then, and we go back to even strength--at least we do until Halpern gets called for tripping. This is the wrong kind of deja vu. I do not want it. There's about nine seconds left in the period, but unfortunately, it takes them only five.
17 shots against. Dear Caps: I don't know what's in your head right now, but this team is not better than you. They are not. Not this year.
In the second period, the big surprise is that Neuvirth is in goal. It's awesome to see him, and to see that he's feeling better, but this is definitely a surprise, since neither of the last two goals on Vokoun were particularly easy or "bad" goals. Strange.
This is a good period--or at least, a much better one. Ovechkin is fierce and full of energy, anyone in his path gets destroyed.
That includes the score. 3-2.
Now I know that we lost and all, but I have to say it was almost a little bit worth it just to see him play like that again, he can light up a whole stadium when he's feeling good. He loves to score goals--still--loves it, and he just hasn't had the chance to get into that in awhile.
There are dangerous shifts from dangerous lines--for some reason Vigneault is matching us first line for first line, which, okay, but the difference this period is that we are dangerous back. There's a lot of up and down the ice, both teams get good shots--there's a very pretty glove save from Neuvirth and back down the other way, Knuble gets the puck, one on one and--
Gets hauled down by Edler, in what's clearly, clearly going to be a penalty shot. Not exactly the guy we'd expect to draw our first penalty shot, but this is awesome--Knuble is not exactly a sniper but I trust him with this any day.
This is a hilarious sequence, and I mean hilarious. Luongo actually catches the shot, and then it somehow--bounces out of his glove, over his own shoulder, and then he dives after it and smothers it in the back of his net. Oh Luongo, your life is so sad.
The Vancouver crowd shrieks as if in physical pain. Tie game.
We've got the momentum and Luongo is scrambly--he can feel the crowd glaring at the back of his head. Ovechkin is looking like a charging bull tonight--captain's leading the way, and he'd really like the team to come along.
Alex Edler has to go and ruin our momentum by scoring with assists from Henrik and Daniel Sedin. This goal is preposterously Swedish. 4-3.
Johansson tries to make it even Swedisher with a good shot on goal, but it doesn't happen. Not yet.
Brouwer, who's been generally all over the place, takes a delay of game penalty and I am not amused. I am too frozen with fear during the PK to do anything, like you know, breathe. If we everrrr won a faceoff, that would probably really help.
Continuing nonsense from Brouwer. Maybe it's the ex-Chicago factor. I like him and I like what he brings to our team--but he is not sleeping in the bed tonight.
We're at 27 shots against, but the penalty is killed. We get some pressure going--the lines have been shuffled all to hell and Semin's on the top line for some reason, but whatever's happening, it's working. There's some kind of error at the Canucks bench, leaving Ovechkin with way, way more space than you want to leave Ovechkin--some lovely passing happens, Johansson gets the puck with all the time in the world, and he scores, and it's beautiful.
Unfortunately the third period has a lot more in common with the first period than the second--we have a pretty good start, but the announcer is reminding me that last game-winning goal in this building was Adam Oates from Calle Johansson. Lord.
There's a kind of crazy moment when Bieksa basically tackles Ovechkin, who had basically tacked Hamhuis.
The press has their priorities in order tonight, so there is a picture of this. Fuck yeah.
There's some pressure in return because that is what Vancouver does. I am actually covering my eyes for part of this, which is a bad habit, but at least it saves me from seeing the awful offensive-zone penalty taken by Ovechkin.
Why, team? Why?
But yet another great kill--if you want lots of ice time on the Washington Capitals at the moment, be a penalty killer. Joel Ward is a hero and shot blocks without a stick. The word "fearless" is used.
Neuvirth appears to make a save, there's a lot of shoving in the crease and--goal? Apparently that's a good goal? Replay shows that Neuvirth thought he had it in his glove and it somehow squeaked out to the other side, and also shows Carlson LEAPING over the top of Neuvirth in an attempt to save it. Amazingly, there is a picture of this too.
I am so happy.
Not with the score, of course, which is now 5-4.
We get some plays going again, the first line is making some things happen and FUCK WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE SCORING AGAIN.
We are doing our best impression of flies hitting a windshield. Our little guys are spending a lot of time on their asses, but nobody's giving up yet.
Salo gets called for holding. Stop giving me hope, hockey, this is cruel.
The goalies we play seem to have no issue finishing lately--whatever hilarity had occurred earlier with Luongo, he seems to be just fine now.
He takes away my captain's hat trick with a truly ridiculous save, which has to be actually, morally wrong on some level.
Lapierre scores. Caps are up past their bedtime.
I assume some hockey happens beyond this, but it's a little fuzzy because I was in the pit of despair. There's definitely some parts where the Vancouver crowd chants "Ovi", which is puzzling both because he has scored two goals on you tonight, Vancouver, and if you want to make him mad, paying a lot of attention to him is probably not the way to go. It's sort of awesome in a way that he's that guy again--that lightning rod, because this was a pretty good game for him, loss regardless.
And it was a loss.
Honestly, I'd rather lose like this than like we did to the Oilers--they outplayed us, and to some extent we outplayed ourselves, but there was nothing about it that seemed unfair--it was a fast, exciting game that broke the wrong direction. There were plenty of errors but they're easily identified, and that was not even close to our best. When we start losing on our A game, then I'll panic.
We lost. We'll be okay. Now's not the time to mope, it's time to patch up what's broken, and try not to do any more damage in the meantime. Championship teams aren't the ones who never lose. Don't be silly. Championship teams are the ones who lose and get over it, so let's do that instead.
Ducks Tuesday, and we're at home. Get some sleep, Caps. Kiss your wives, tell Mike Green and John Erskine how much you miss them.
Let's go Caps.