Devils-Caps post-game thoughts

There’s a much better feeling tonight in the nation’s capital tonight, isn’t there? Well, there’s a good reason for it. After an 8 game skid, the Caps have won their last two and tonight’s 5-1 beating of the Devils was done in convincing fashion. Tonight was a game where the lesser known players on the team came through, namely the ones called up from Hershey to fill in for injured players. Washington was without Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks tonight and in their place were Andrew Gordon and Jay Beagle. Both had a goal a piece in this game. The “stars” from the team are still slumping a bit right now so it’s good at that the “grinders” on the team are working hard to create chances and converting on them. That’s what a team who is going through scoring troubles needs to do. In fact, it was great seeing the stars on the team like Ovechkin taking notice of this and create chances themselves that way. I noticed Ovechkin and Backstrom both crashing the net multiple times in the 2nd period to create chances. It should be noted that both of these wins came against two awful teams (New Jersey being one of the worst in the league) but it’s good that we’re not taking any team for granted now. They will have a big test against Pittsburgh in a couple days which should prepare them well for the showdown at Heinz Field on New Years Day. Even if it was against a bad team, it was good to see the Caps we know and love come back.

Thoughts/Observations

– Marcus Johansson and John Carlson were the two best players on the ice tonight. Johansson set up Gordon’s goal beautifully and he was controlling the puck very well in the neutral and defensive zones. This was a great response from him after a couple bad games and I hope he can keep it up. It was also great to see him display his speed like he did tonight. Carlson was wonderful both offensive and defensively tonight with his rocket of a goal and solid work on the powerplay.

– Andrew Gordon and Jay Beagle were the last two players on the team I expected to score tonight, if Scott Hannan also scored then it would have been an odd kind of hat trick. What I also liked was Boudreau giving them more ice time as a response to this. The stars of the team weren’t playing well and the “grinders” were and got more playing time as a result and they made the most of it. Gordon showed great hustle going to the net with his goal (his first as an NHL-er) and Beagle was in the right place at the right time. Both will get a chance to make an impact in the next few weeks since Matt Bradley will be out for at least 2 weeks with a broken wrist.

– Jason Chimera was another player I didn’t expect to score with how he’s been playing lately but he really showcased his speed tonight on his goal and did a nice job of finishing the play off. Hopefully that will get him out of this cold streak he was recently on. Maybe Gordon and Johansson are the right linemates for him? If that’s the case it’s too bad that Gordon won’t be around for much longer…or will he?

– The special teams are still struggling (0-5 on the powerplay and 3-4 on the PK) but I think the goals will come with the man advantage if we keep going to the net instead of trying to be to cute, which was a problem tonight while we were on the powerplay. Maybe it’s time to give Johansson a few more PP shifts?

– Colin White’s face after he deflected the puck to Carlson (which set up his goal) was one of the most priceless things I’ve ever seen.

– Where’s that Scott Hannan we were promised?

– Michal Neuvirth had 35 saves tonight, a performance which was somewhat overshadowed by the offense. This was also his third consecutive start and Boudreau’s said that he will continue to roll with him. Interesting. Wonder if this will help Neuvirth find the rhythm he had at the beginning of the year.

Definitely a solid win for the Caps that will hopefully keep us going in the right direction and keep us first in the Southeast for awhile. Hopefully it will settle down the tweeters calling for Boudreau’s head during the painful losing streak. We know how good this team can be and we sort of saw it tonight. Wasn’t the Tampa Bay game but I’m not complaining at all.

Three Stars:

1. Marcus Johansson

2. John Carlson

3. Andrew Gordon

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