Sunday, October 23, 2011

Caps/Wings, 10/22/2011

Twelve hours later and I am still swanning around, humming to myself, smiling at strangers, laughing to myself for no reason. Winning is a powerful drug, and at seven-oh, we are as high as could be.

Caps Nation is officially the sunniest and most beautiful place in the league. Please note that it is also a lovely vacation destination, so for those who have not yet visited, consider this your official invitation onto the Caps bandwagon.

Here is a video of my current mood:

I hope every one of our players' mornings went exactly like that. They deserve it. Great things are happening here and we get to watch them, and it is so fun.

Perhaps this is the moment that I should take a step back, realize how much longer we've got to go, and temper my enthusiasm, but I refuse. In fact, here is a large glitter text about my feelings:

But to the recap!

Not all of this game was as pretty as the scoreboard implies--in fact, almost none of it was. Detroit is a very dangerous team, and they didn't let us forget that, not from the moment that the puck drops. There's a shot by Cleary more or less instantly that by some miracle of God doesn't go in. Kiss your goalpost, Vokoun.

On the other hand, this appears to be that one scary shot in the first minute of the game that wakes Vokoun up, and this time, we didn't even lose a goal for it. Good deal.

Not that anything becomes safer, because it doesn't. Detroit is sieging the castle with everything they've got, and we are flailing haplessly. Every moment in our zone is a disaster waiting to happen.

There's an audible "Let's Go Wings" chant in the crowd. Go fuck yourselves. You don't come into our house and do that.

Goat to the rescue. Chant replaced by "Let's Go Caps". Now we can move on.

Not that there's a lot of "going" happening here. Ovechkin almost gets to the net, but there are about four Red Wings there. They're doing a good job covering him overall, in fact, he's wearing Ian White like a sweater. Annoying.

Of more concern: Red Wings in our end. It's bad, it's like an infestation. Datsyuk gets an open net and I am absolutely, one hundred percent sure that it's a goal, but somehow Vokoun gets across. It takes another replay for me to understand how it did not go in--unbelievable kick save. Our goalie is a human Slinky.

And another great save within thirty seconds. These are cool to watch, and all, but I am wishing that he wasn't having to make quite so many of them. This is not my favorite first period ever.

At the break, the Verizon Center acknowledges Nick Lidstrom's 1500th game. We applaud, because we are classy bitches, and because if you don't like Nick Lidstrom, you are literally a bad person.

Back into the fray. Johansson gets what may be our first actual scoring chance, but mostly we're still flailing. Cleary gets in Vokoun's face, and Vokoun smacks him upside the head with his blocker. Awesome. For a few moments there's some actual coherent play occurring, and I realize that it's our fourth line. Of course it is.

Breaking news: Todd Bertuzzi still a jerk, news at eleven.

Mr. Class and Charm tries to kill John Carlson on icing for no reason, and then acts completely shocked that there's a rule about this. Go to the box until you're sorry. Asshole.

Full disclosure: I am on a Red Wings feed, which is sometimes fun, I always learn a lot of really great things that I already know. For example, did you know that the Caps have struggled in the playoffs? Or that Ovechkin is occasionally a scoring threat? Journalism!

Right now I am learning that Green has a hell of a shot from the point.

This is accurate.


How about that power play, huh?

The Red Wings get moving again pretty quickly, Vokoun has to make another save on Cleary. Guess who I am already sick of tonight? Gonna go watch that video of Pronger destroying him to feel better.

See? Much better now.

The bothersome thing about playing the Red Wings is that the Red Wings don't make very many mistakes--it's a frustrating system to play against, they're just incredibly competent and consistent with occasional flashes of brilliance. The important part is that when they do make mistakes, we need to take advantage of them.

Maybe they're tired, but a giveaway right in front of then net isn't the kind of chance we usually get. We take advantage--Knuble swipes it, sends it to Mojo, and he takes the shot. Score.

Remember that time he was a healthy scratch?

Me neither.

There's time for one more heart-stopping moment before the period ends--Mike Green gets in the way of Darren Helm's shot and takes a puck right to the face, goes to the ice. Lord. This man stops more shots just using his head than some goalies I could name. Why does this always happen to Mike Green? I am muy confused.

I don't know what the issue is lately with Caps faces, but the opposition seems to be targeting all the most beautiful ones. League-wide conspiracy.

Hudler follows Bertuzzi's example with some ungentlemanly behavior on Wideman, we go to a power play. Why is it that this game is turning dirtier than the Flyers game?

This power play is basically useless--Caps get some kinda weak chances, Knuble gets a pretty good one at the end that goes off the goalpost.

I thought you were on our side, post.

During the intermission, news breaks that Marco Sturm has been traded to Florida, meaning that the next Panthers game will be even MORE awkward. Poor Sturm. Fourth trade in two years. 

In the second period, Green is out and skating with his chin stitched up. Who needs faces? They're not important to hockey.

Datsyuk's got miles of clear ice and he shoots. Vokoun stops it. "Vokouuuuuuuuuun" from the crowd. Awkwardly, I have been informed yesterday that this is not actually how you pronounce his name, but he's probably used to this.  

Wings continue disqualifying themselves from the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and high stick Perrault in the face. Seriously, Wings--I know you're not used to losing, but there's no reason to get nasty. Use your words. 

This time the power play takes a little longer to get going, but the result is the same. 

Mike Green, king of all power plays. Rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. 

There are a lot of Caps fans that have a problem with Green, so let's get this out of the way: Mike Green is awesome. Yes, I realize that some fans don't appreciate him because he hasn't always been the most solid defensively, isn't the most physical, etc. Those fans are wrong. Mike Green is awesome, and we're getting vintage Mike Green play here tonight. Green is fixed, the power play is fixed. Does anyone really think this is a coincidence?

Nothing on the ice looks like we're up three goals--Wings are snapping at us, getting point-blank chances, but Vokoun battles them off, and I mean battles. This was a different kind of goalie performance for him, he's not making routine saves here, he's making saves on shots that by every measurable law of nature, should have gone in. This game should be 5-3 Red Wings, but it's not.

The fourth line gives him a hand and there's some good defense around the net for a moment, and then it tips over the line from "good defense" to "penalty", and we go on the kill.

This is a terrifying PK at first, but then Carlson catches the puck and sends it out, Knuble chases it and all nine players are down in our end for some reason. Wings bring it back, and try so hard and so desperately to shove in an almost-frozen puck that the net comes off the moorings and it turns into one of those "fuckers need to get OFF" situations.

Hamrlik is being kind of manhandly, I guess that's a penalty--but I'm glad to see we're defending our goaltender. Wings have thirty second of 3-on-5, dammit, dammit. I hate those things. Well--I hate them when they're on us.

Caps are are aggressive on the kill, but this is going to happen.

3-1. Kronwall.

But something's missing in the game. I'm not sure what it is, I've just got this feeling there's something that we haven't done yet.

Oh, right. A Semin stick penalty--and then, horrendously, another penalty halfway through it, making this the SECOND FIVE ON THREE OH MY LORD. Caps are trying to throw this game away. Our grinders are being beautiful, Joel Ward takes the puck all the way down to the other end and kills some time. Helm has an open net, it hits someone who is not a goaltender but is behaving as such.

We're being outshot 15-4 this period. This should be a total disaster and isn't, thank your penalty killers, thank your goalie. 

Perrault gets a weak chance, but it surprises Conklin and gets through his legs. He really should have had that. 

Our fourth line is the scoriest ever. In the future this should create HUGE opportunities for Ovechkin, because once teams start realizing they need to cover all of our lines, they're going to get spread pretty thin. 

4-1. And in the last eight seconds of play, no less. E'erybody getting Lasik. 

In the intermission, more ex-Caps things happen--Bradley scores his first Panthers goal! I can be uncomplicatedly happy about this now because he apologized, also, he's not playing us. Go get 'em, tiger. #needsmoreBradley

Monster shift from our third line to start the period, Brooks Laich is steamrolling Datsyuk--he loses his helmet in a scrum with Laich, keeps playing. Oh, but they don't just shut down, oh no, that's not all they're good for. 

Waaaaard. And great work from Brooks Laich, great puck control, and guess who was on the ice? Datsyuk. Cleary. Zetterberg. Our third line is schooling your first line, that kinda sucks. Green gets an assist, and that's the fourth point for him, making this his third career four-point game. Fuck yeah Mike Green. 

5-1. FREE WINGS. Free everything tonight. 

Down four goals, Ian White decides that this would be a good moment for a tripping call. Wings fans put on suicide watch across the nation. We take pity on them and do not score on this power play, but Detroit is not at the bottom of the hole yet, they're still digging. 


Weirdly the Wings are still playing with okay energy after this, perhaps they think there is a possibility that they can score five goals in under seven minutes. Bless their hearts. 

Hendricks throws his body in front of a slapshot with four minutes left, up by five. Unbelievable. He really never stops playing for a second. 

We're not done. We've got that killer instinct this year, the one we struggled with last year--we don't beat teams, we bury them. 

SEVEN GOALS. One more on a beautiful shot from Backstrom. I AM FILLED WITH GLEE. 

Seven and seven. Everybody take a shot. How can anything possibly get luckier than that? 


Standing ovation for the boys, and I can't stop grinning. Closeup of Mike Babcock looking thunderous--sorry for ruining your night, Lidstrom, we'll meet you at 2000. 

Wings, you can turn in your "undefeated" cards at the door. 

So here we are, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. Green is growing some kind of facial hair, maybe it's good luck. Maybe John Walton is good luck. Maybe Joel Ward is good luck. Maybe that third line is good luck.

Or maybe, just maybe, we have four competitive two-way lines, three solid, balanced defensive parings, and an extraordinary goalie. Depth? You'll drown in it. Every hole has been patched.

This is the time for showing ourselves what we're capable of, and the answer is: everything. We aren't throwing the parade just yet, but every win is fantastic and when they start stacking up like this, even better.

No hockey till Thursday, booo. On the other hand, that gives the boys a chance to go out last night and celebrate, and I certainly hope they did. Oilers next week and then Canucks, set 'em up, knock 'em down. The league record is ten straight wins, so there's our new goal to shoot for. Win eleven. Win them all.

Let's go Caps.

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