I'd say thank you to the Hockey Gods for giving me the boring game that I asked for, but that was just a different kind of tense, wasn't it? That was the kind of tense where you're ahead the whole time but you keep forgetting that because of the way your team is playing, and where you're pretty sure the new plays that the coaches are drawing up on their whiteboards have been "don't, under any circumstances, ever shoot the puck."
I'm going to blame the Sens, because I can. It's the first time this season we've played someone out of our conference, and the Caps always seem highly confused by this, and spend a lot of time skating around quizzically wondering who these people are, again. I don't know what it is about Sens games--the last time I tried to convert somebody to hockey, I made him sit down and watch what happened to be a Sens vs. Caps game with me.
It was so boring that I spent the whole time going "no really, it's usually more exciting than this." He has not watched hockey since. Curse you, Ottawa.
So since this is the Washington Capitals, clearly nothing will be happening in the first period. Go ahead and get yourself a drink. Maybe pop some popcorn. Don't worry, nothing exciting is going to happen in this period.
Except actually not so much. Sit back down for a minute, because the Capitals are skating like they've been shot out of a cannon and everyone is looking kind of good. Hang on, things might be happening here.
...Maybe not good things. Alzner takes a boarding penalty that once again I am not so sure of--there is an objectivity problem here, being that I am reluctant to believe that the boys are not hockey angels who would never do anything wrong, but it looked to me like Alzner came in to hit Konopka right as Konopka was starting to fall over all on his own. Boarding, huh?
Whatever. Am a Shanafan, and I would rather see them be too strict than not strict enough. I would also like the refs to get their eyes checked at their earliest convenience, and we can call it a compromise.
I am still not too worried, because it's the Senators, and the Senators promptly take exception to this by scoring some kind of a goal.
There is not a picture of this, because basically the press could not be bothered to take a single picture of a Sens player the whole night, apparently. Can't say I blame them, so here is a picture of my feelings on the matter:
The sadness is temporary. The goal is immediately waved off on account of there being about 182 Senators standing in the goal when they scored, and not in a "great offensive play" kind of way, in an "oh my god, what the fuck are you doing there, get out" kind of way. Interference.
This leads to a hilarious double take by Jason Spezza where he started celebrating, then realized the goal had been waved off and flat-out sprinted towards the ref. It's no use, sir, I'm sorry. That's nothing even resembling a legal goal.
Sometimes I feel bad that you're a Senator, Spezza. But I don't feel that bad.
The PK apparently did nothing to slow our momentum at all, because we come out of the gate with a fury again, running over Sens left and right. Chris Neil tries to take someone's eye out with his stick and gets a penalty for it, and we go on a power play.
It doesn't start all that well, but we get it under control at the last possible moment, just to keep things exciting--we're passing well finally, right in the crease, right in Auld's face, Sens are scrambling around trying to stop a goal from happening. Oh, Sens. You might as well try to stop the sun rising in the morning.
Ridiculous backhand pass from Semin to Backstrom, who shoots it at a stupid impossible angle, nails it, and skates off like he does this every day.
Scary moment when Carlson gets caught standing still and Michalek takes off, but Vokoun laughs at your point-blank scoring chances, Michalek.
Bring him something worthy of his skillz.
MJ90 comes down the wing and Karlsson is right with him, thinks he's got him, but has failed to take into consideration that Johansson is way fucking faster than him or possibly anyone ever. Johansson leaves him in the dust, wraps around aaaand--
Best deja vu ever.
If this were America's Next Top Model, at this point Tyra Banks would be calling it his Signature Play.
We're up by two, first time this season we have been, and we're feeling good. Another power play? Don't mind if we do! Chris Neil really likes us, he is our friend and would like to give us all the extra man opportunities in the world. Thanks, Chris. That's nice of you.
We'll pay you back by totally failing to score.
The period is winding down, and we seem to forget that there are a few more seconds in which the opposing team could possibly score. They, on the other hand, have not forgotten this.
Full disclosure, this picture is from like two years ago. Hi, Mike Fisher!
I still feel pretty okay about this, because if we play the way we've been playing for the first period, the score will be 16-1 by the end of the night, easy.
Except that we don't. And I mean we really don't. To make myself feel better, I will imagine that this is like when a parent challenges their child to a race, and then slows down at the end so that they can catch up.
What nice guys.
The good feeling runs out extremely quickly when Chimera gets tripped and goes into the board like a ton of bricks. I could hear the impact from my house. Ouch.
He heads down the tunnel and I'm anxiously staring after him for a moment instead of watching the play, but that's all right, because nothing is happening. Caps are on the PP, and it's not looking promising. If only anyone on the team had their stick on the ice it would be really, really helpful.
Good: Chimera is back on the bench, and then back on the ice. Tough as nails. If you want to take him out, you're going to have to try harder. Bad: the Senators are picking up some energy and the Caps apparently can't be bothered to stop them. They don't look particularly brilliant but they are in our zone and they won't fucking leave. You know what they say about house guests.
Vokoun is calm. No big deal. He's tending goal against neighborhood kids in his driveway. The score is still 2-1 somehow, even though we were outshot 12-6 throughout the period.
It's at this point that I realize that we have been doing nothing, and Vokoun is the only reason we're still winning the game. There is nothing good about this twenty minutes of hockey. I asked you to fix that terrible first period, Capitals, not reschedule it.
In the third period, it's Tomas Vokoun against the Ottawa Senators.
I am not exaggerating. The defense goes for Starbucks and leaves the Sens to basically do whatever they want. They come out hard trying to score and tie up the game, but being the Ottawa Senators, they don't.
Sketchy hit on Colin Greening from Hendricks--not sure he intended to get his head with his shoulder like that, but it looked pretty ugly. Entire arena pauses and looks around guiltily as if expecting Shanahan to appear on the spot and lay down the hammer, but on the replay it looks a little better, so we're probably okay. Matt Hendricks will still be paranoidly watching his phone for the next few days.
More terrible hockey. Michalek with a breakaway, and Vokoun with his best impression of a brick wall--Verizon Center crowd responds with a "Vokouuuuuuuuuunnnn", which sounds less like "boo" than Luongo's name but only slightly. 25 shots on goal already, Vokoun is having flashbacks to Florida, and he is in the zone.
We cling to the lead with our fingernails. We're barely hanging on.
We make it.
Guess when the last time we went 4-0 to start a season was? It was 97-98. Guess what was special about that year? It was the year we went to the Stanley Cup Finals. It's fun to draw lines from things like that, but this wasn't a good game for us. Vokoun promised that he'd return the favor for the bad game he had that we still won, and he did--it's looking to be a very good sign that when the offense falters, the goaltending can work it out, and when the goaltending is faltering, the offense can win it for us anyway.
We didn't dominate this one--but the Caps don't necessarily dominate all the games we win, not anymore. Look at last season. But part of winning is luck and bounces, and watching the other team fail when they have every opportunity in the world to put it away. Oh, and Vokoun.
It's only October. This is nothing close to our best hockey. Ugly games that we're still winning, and it's all uphill from here. That's kind of fun to think about.
Let's go Caps.