Islanders-Caps recap

I’m someone who doesn’t like to admit when they’re wrong and I misjudged a lot of things tonight. Earlier today, I wasn’t too happy when I saw that Braden Holtby would be Washington’s starting goalie. He’s someone I don’t trust yet due to poor outings in his last few starts with the Caps and I’d rather have him stay in Hershey until he’s fully ready. An injury to Michal Neuvirth made his call-up necessary and he was named starter tonight against a struggling Islanders team and you know what? He played pretty great. 24 saves on 25 shots and he had to make a few very impressive starts in doing so, especially on the penalty kill. The other complaint I had was when I saw that Jason Chimera would be on the first line after not showing any chemistry with Ovechkin or Backstrom the other night in Philadelhpia. He started off tonight by scoring the first goal of the game on a great feed from Ovechkin. So, it’s time for me to say that Bruce was right and I was wrong. Okay, glad that’s done. Despite getting into some penalty trouble, Washington came away with their 8th win in 9 tries against the Islanders. Not exactly a monumental win but a win nonetheless and we were in first place until Tampa Bay beat Atlanta in a shootout about 20 minutes ago. Screw you, Dominic Moore. Being in a division race is so fun!

Thoughts/Observations:

– Washington probably got off to their best start in awhile tonight. The make-shift third line of Hendricks-Perreualt-Beagle forechecked well and pinned the Islanders in their own zone for awhile to start off the game. It was shortly followed by a great shift by the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Chimera line which led to an early goal. A complete 180 of how Washington has started their other games and it was a refreshing change to see.

– Speaking of Mathieu Perreault, the campaign on him to be the next 2nd line center might be put to rest soon if he doesn’t stop committing awful offensive zone penalties like he did tonight. I feel like this has been happening way too much the past few weeks. The guy who has teh upper hand for that spot, Marcus Johansson, only skated 11 minutes tonight. Huh.

– Too many penalties this game but the PKers did a nice job of bailing them out as they killed off all six of them. Great work by Jay Beagle in the neutral zone on the last one, especially. Holtby also had to make a few really impressive saves to keep it a 2-1 game.

– One goal and an assist for Nicklas Backstrom. Nice job, Nick, now let’s keep it up.

– We definitely saw glimpses of the Caps of old for some time in this game as they were able to cycle the puck a lot easier and forecheck harder. However, I think a lot of it has to do with the Islanders top defensive pairing being Jack Hiller and Radek Martinek. Oof. What ever happened to our old whipping boy friend Milan Jurcina?

– This Islanders team sure is a lot less fun to watch than it was under Scott Gordon. Seems that Capuano has them playing a more conservative game and it’s not exactly the most exciting, especially considering some of the talent there. John Tavares is still pretty awesome, though. So is Michael Grabner. Speaking of which, did we not scout him correctly because he really zoomed by Scott Hannan on his goal.

– Rick DiPietro has always been one of my favorite goalies to watch. The way he goes 50 feet out the net to play pucks, the way he dances around in his crease to make saves and his disappearing act every few months. Love watching him but I am glad he’s not on my team.

Definitely a nice win and let’s hope we can build on it going into Toronto this Saturday.

Three Stars:

1. Nicklas Backstrom

2. Jason Chimera

3. Braden Holtby

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