Last night the Capitals hosted the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center and they beat them 3 - 0.
Okay maybe that retrospective was a bit too brief ... but first let's review our top questions before the game:
1) "Will Tomas Fleischmann show up for the game or continue to be nearly invisible?"
"Flash" wasn't totally "invisible" but it wasn't a performance that made it self evident why he is the second highest paid member of the team.
2) "Will Ovi come alive and electrify us with something like a hat trick"
Captain Ovechkin had one assist and 4 hits and turned in an overall solid but unremarkable (for him) performance.
and 3) "Will Vokoun shut out his former team just one game after they put up big numbers?"
Yep, Tomas Vokoun got his first shutout of the season and his first shutout as a Washington Capital at the expense of his former team last night making 20 saves and earning the games first star.
Other quick hits -
* As slow as Ovi's start has been, Sasha Semin, Dennis Wideman, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera have been pretty darn quick. Backstrom has 1 goal and 5 assists for 6 points in 5 games; Semin and Wideman each have 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points MoJo has 3 goals and an assist and Chimera has 4 goals. Putting in into perspective both MoJo and Chimera are on a 60+ goal pace for the 82 game season. While obviously it's highly unlikely for them to maintain that pace, my point is we wanted/needed secondary scoring and with the three scoring lines the Capitals now have "we've" got it.
* So far this season, ice time is much more equitably managed and in the end that should mean the entire team is likely to stay healthier. Right now the ATOI leader is Mike Green but his ATOI is only 22:31 down from over 25:00 two years ago and 49th in the league so far this season, and "Game Over" is the only Capital in the top 60 in this statistical category. That means the Capitals are a much more "balanced" team and to me that means they are a tougher team to prepare for and play against than they were even just last season.
* This year's Capitals are a much, much more physical team than the Capitals of the last three seasons. Team hit leader Troy Brouwer is second in the league in "hits" with 24, as a team in five games so far this season the Capitals have "dished out" a total of 140 hits that's an average of 28 hits per game vice an average of 24 hits per game last season, that's a 16.7% increase. Also that increase in "toughness" is pretty evenly distributed throughout the entire Capitals' roster - for example, Jeff Schultz had a total of 53 hits in 72 games played last season, an average of 0.73 hits per game, so far this season he's credited with 4 hits in 5 games or .8 hits per game, a ~10% increase. Also anecdotally I think he's hitting people harder - I say that because you notice his hits more, this season I'm surprised he "only" has 4 hits and looking at last season's stats I'm surprised he had more than 40 hits. I think this also says the Capitals are a tougher team to play this season in this regard as well.
* Alexander Semin is indeed one of the biggest and best TWO WAY talents in the NHL today. That's all I'm sayin' and I'm just sayin' He's also really fun to watch play this game they call Ice Hockey. Last night his stat line was 1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 16:03 TOI in 18 shifts, 4 shots, 1 giveaway, and two take aways. He's really good; that's especially obvious when you compare his stat line to a less talented, but clearly NHL caliber player in a similar game. Take for example, oh say, somebody like Matt Bradley. Last night's stat line for Matt Bradley reads: 0 goals. 0 assists, 0 points, -1, 13:04 in 18 shifts, 1 attempt blocked, 1 hit and 1 takeaway. Both players earned their salaries last night but Semin clearly played with "heart" and was a far more impactful (is that a word) player on his 18 shifts. Again "just sayin'".
* Marcus Johansson clearly wants to make sure he gets a sweater EVERY night. He also has really shown that the wrap around "stuff" goal is not dead. Watching him score his third goal last night gave me flashbacks to how the Flyers' Bobby Clarke would often score "back in the day." While I'm talking number 90, the 28-90-22 line is "pretty fun" to watch and really good so far this season.
* This Vokoun guy the Caps picked up in the off season - I think he's going to be pretty good for them... actually i think he's a "beast" in a really, really good way.
Next up, the Philadelphia Flyers in Philly, tomorrow night.
LETS GO CAPS!!! Make it "6" okay?