Caps-Leafs recap

I know I admitted to being wrong about Braden Holtby the other night but I think it deserves another mention here. Alex Ovechkin getting his first hat trick of the year was awesome but this game could have easily gone ind the Leafs favor if it wasn’t for the play of Holtby. He allowed only one goal 36 shots with 19 of them coming in the third period. Whenever the Caps play on Hockey Night In Canada, we usually get one of their best or worst performances of the season. While tonight wasn’t their best performance, it was certainly a good one from select players. Hat trick for Ovechkin, great goaltending from Holtby, a dazzling goal from Matt Hendricks and some good play in the defensive zone..for the most part. When we’re in a tight division race like we are right now, wins against teams like Toronto are big because it keeps us only one point behind of the Lightning.

Thoughts/Observaitons

– Like I said, HNIC brings out either the best or the worst in Washington’s players and we saw the best of Braden Holtby tonight. That was easily the best game he’s played in the NHL. He had to stand on his head many times tonight. First on Tyler Bozak’s breakaway goal, then another on Mikhail Grabovski in the second period and finally, a great save on Grabovski again in the 3rd period. He deserves props for tonight’s game but I am still not completely sold on him yet. He seems to have worked on overplaying pucks which is good but I’m going to wait and see more of him before I decide if he’s a good fit for a full-time spot with the big club next year. That said, having three young goalies playing well is never a bad thing. Though Neuvirth has been shaky his past few starts.

– Of course, I have to mention Ovechkin’s hat trick. In fact, it was a great night all around for #8. He was forechecking hard, blocked 4 shots, fired 8 shots at the net and definitely made a huge impact tonight. If the Caps are going to win games, he needs to be the best player on the ice and he definitely was tonight. Let’s keep it up, Ovie.

– Matt Hendricks…wow. What a goal for him. He was also one assist away from a Gordie Howe hat-trick if you count his scrap with Mike Brown as a fight. His breakaway tally in the third is the prettiest goal you’ll ever see him score but it’s good that we’re still getting bottom-six guys like him contributing. Now I just hope that Boudreau doesn’t get any crazy ideas like putting him on the second line to helps “spark them” a bit. Great goal but he’s not going to work out there at all.

– So, maybe I was wrong about the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Chimera line not working out. They’ve contributed for 4 of the Capitals last 6 goals and Chimera’s speed is always welcome even if he isn’t that creative offensively.

– 4 combined shots for the Leafs first line of Macarthur-Grabovski-Kulemin. While that’s not the most threatening first line (aside from Grabovski), it’s good that Carlson and Alzner were able to keep these three in check and not allow a meltdown to happen like the last time we played the Leafs.

– Capitals had 24 blocked shots compared to only 9 by the Leafs. I would say it was a great defensvie perofmrnace but there were some occasional slip ups. One being Mike Green fanning on a shot on the powerplay which led to a three-on-one for the Leafs, which Holtby shut down. There were a few other bad slip-ups as well, one of which being John Erskine losing track of Tim Brent, which resulted in a Leafs goal. No major damage, thankfully. That’s really my only complaint in this game.

– Dion Phaneuf had a good game offensively for the Leafs with 7 shots but he was on ice for all three of Ovechkin’s goals. There was also him taking a few extra shots at Holtby which kind of bugged me.

– 0/2 on the powerplay, 3/3 on the penalty kill, getting redundant isn’t it?

– I actually thought Jeff Schultz scored that first goal before I saw Ovechkin get his stick on it. It was kind of surprising since most of his shots miss the net completely but he did well on that play. Also had a solid game with a +3 rating.

Three Stars

1. Braden Holtby

2. Alex Ovechkin

3.  Matt Hendricks

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