Lightning-Capitals post-game thoughts

The last recap I wrote was after Washington’s no-show against the Devils on Monday night. Since then, they had a great effort and a 3-2 against Carolina and tonight, an even better effort and a 6-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning. There’s been a few times where I’ve said “this has been the best game the Caps have played all year” but I think tonight’s game takes the cake in terms of overall performance. The Caps stepped on the gas pedal and didn’t let up for the entire game. What everyone will be talking about in this game is the 2nd period where Alex Semin recorded a natural hat trick, his third hatty of the season and 2nd against the Lightning. Earlier, I wrote a piece wondering if Semin’s hot streak earlier in the month was just typical Sasha or if it was here to stay. Well, his last three games before Wednesday were brutal but tonight was a complete 180. Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson had two beautiful set ups on those goals, as well. Speaking of MoJo, he keeps getting better and better. Had a rough night on the faceoff circle (5/12) but he picked up 2 assists and won a critical faceoff that setup John Carlson’s goal.

 

– Remember how rough things were when Mike Green and Tom Poti were hurt in October? Remember how much the powerplay struggled and how much extra responsibility guys like John Carlson had? Tonight, we were in a similar situation. No Green or Sloan in the lineup meant that Poti had to play top 2 minutes and Braden Fahey was recalled. Guess what happened? Powerplay converted twice and the Alzner/Carlson pairing shut down Steven Stamkos’ line.  Stamkos, St. Louis and Downie only recorded 4 shots the whole game. The whole defense played pretty well considering Tampa only had 17 shots the entire game.

– Alex Ovechkin hasn’t scored in a few games but you can’t deny that he’s making an impact when you watch him play. The last couple of games, he’s started things up by throwing huge hits and getting the team energized. He also has a good chunk of assists to boot. Picked up two of them tonight.

– Three defenseman scored tonight (Carlson, Erskine, Poti). I think the latter two are off to set career highs for goals at the rate they’re going. I honestly didn’t know Erskine had such a huge shot until he knocked out Mike Smith with his and had the rebound bounce right into the net. Speaking of Mike Smith, I can never understand why he is still an NHL goalie. Brutal.

– It’s nice to see Varly get another shut out even though he didn’t have to work that much. He made the saves he needed when he had to though and that’s what matters.

– Look how much better the team played when Tomas Fleischmann and Tyler Sloan aren’t in the lineup. Just sayin’. I didn’t even notice Mike Knuble was back for most of the game, though but I’m hoping that changes.

This is why I didn’t freak out about a couple road no-shows last week. This team is too good to play like that and the goals will come to this team eventually. You wait it out and you’ll get performances like tonight’s. However, I am not expecting them to play like this every game even though I would love that. I am also not expecting the Lightning to look like they did tonight in future games. It was an effortless showing by them. A big reason why Johansson and Backstrom could set up Semin so perfectly was because of how much space the Lightning’s defense gave them. Anyway, what I’m saying is that this is more of what I expect from the Caps but only in a perfect world can we see it every night.

 

Three Stars

1. Alex Semin

2. John Carlson

3. Marcus Johansson

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