Winter Classic Recap

Well, that was fun. It’s weird how pessimistic I and a lot of other fans were about this game a couple weeks ago when the Caps were on their losing streak. Now that it’s a thing of the past, it was great to see Washington pull out with a win on this one. Not only that but they played a great defensive game in the third period to protect a two-goal lead and keep it that way. Granted, they were playing a defensive strategy that kept Pittsburgh from getting in front of the net  which was really the only way either team was going to score with how the weather was affecting the ice conditions in this game. Still, I have to give a lot of credit to the entire of defensive corps in this game for how they played in the third. After how much garbage I had to hear from Pens fans during the losing streak, seeing the Caps win this game made me very, very happy. I’m not going to rub it in, though since I’m not that kind of fan and am terrible at coming up with witty insults.

Real Game Analysis/Observations

– Remember how I mentioned in my month in review section on how the goals would eventually come to Eric Fehr? They did tonight. Two goals including one on a great wrist-shot for the 3rd goal which sealed the game for the Caps. He has been one of the more hard-working guys on the team when it comes to generating chances and creating offense the past couple of weeks and I’m glad it finally paid off. Although, things come a lot easier when you’re playing on a wet ice surface and against a goalie who likes to play pucks.

– Which two Capitals had the most ice time tonight? Karl Alzner and John Carlson. Yep, not Mike Green and Scott Hannan. Held everyone on Pittsburgh’s top line pointless tonight. Actually, the entire defensive corps played a great game. The Malkin breakaway goal was the result of a bad line change that left Erskine alone against him but aside from that, great job. I thought Erskine in particular played very well. He was great on the final penalty kill and had one hell of a fight with Mike Rupp. Also, his pass to set up Fehr’s second goal was perfect.

– I am not sure what was worse, the ice conditions or the reffing in tonight’s game. Lots of players slipping and falling everywhere, puddles of water all over the rink, pucks bouncing everywhere, lots of play stoppages, etc. I guess you have to expect that when you’re playing outdoors but the rain definitely played a big factor, especially with effecting both teams offensive and defensive strategies. See Washington’s powerplay where they scored the tying goal. All they did was crash the net and bang away at rebounds. As for the reffing, according to them, if a player A is shoved into the opposing goaltender by player B, a penalty should be called on player A for goaltender interference. However, if happens again and an opposing goal is scored, there is no penalty. Yeah, makes sense to me! Bad calls there.

– David Steckel could be looking at a suspension for his headshot on Sidney Crosby towards the end of the second period. No penalty was called but the league’s definitely going to look at it. It looked incidental to me but I’m going by memory here and will need to see a replay before making any further comment. Steckel had a bad hit on Tobias Enstrom earlier in the month so he doesn’t have a clean slate, either.

– How great was Semyon Varlamov tonight? 32/33 saves and he was really sharp earlier in the game. I wouldn’t say he stole the game for us but he definitely played very well.

– Hopefully these throwback unis become a permanent part of Washington’s uniform. At least as a third jersey.

– Both Crosby and Ovechkin were held off the scoresheet tonight which I kind of expected after seeing how uncomfortable they looked on that ice surface. The NHL promotions office isn’t going to like that, though. At least the fans got a great game aside from the players falling over and what not.

– Pittsburgh is definitely glad to have Jordan Staal back, especially on the penalty kill.

– The Hendricks-Steckel-Beagle line was great early in the game. I didn’t think Jay Beagle would be on the team for more than a few weeks but if he keeps playing like he did tonight then he may have a spot on this team for awhile. However, Matt Bradley basically does the same thing as him so I don’t know if we’ll have room for him once Brads is back.

– Why the NHL thought having two former football players shooting at an empty net would be entertaining during an intermission is beyond me.

Very entertaining game to watch and it feels good to come out with a win. I still think the top line could have looked better but not everything can be perfect. Just another game and another win for Washington. Let’s hope I can say that again very soon.

Three Stars

1. Eric Fehr

2. Semyon Varlamov

3. John Erskine

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