Last night in Pittsburgh it was a two point night for our Washington Capitals, it's been a pretty long time since the Capitals had a two point game that they came out on top of in Pittsburgh. Last night's win in Pittsburgh gave the Capitals an 18-11-6 record and 17 Regulation/Overtime Wins (ROW) in 35 games played. That's a solid 0.600 on the season to date.
Back on December 6th just three weeks ago I mused about the likely difference between ending up on "the right side" versus the "wrong side" of the bubble both in terms of record and pace/quality of play by the Capitals. Granted none of the thoughts expressed in my December 6th blog are "rocket science." However, up to that point in time the 2014-15 edition of the Washington Capitals had not played consistently in a manner that exhibited the play I mused about. However, now 22 days later I can safely point to the past ten (10) games as an extended stretch where the Caps entire roster has pretty much all elevated their compete level and been rewarded with 16 standings points and increased confidence in both their own individual skills and abilities as well as the system they are now playing.
Last night's game was from my perspective the best game of hockey I've seen the Capitals play in over at least 15 months. The Caps played a team game, with skill, and beat a very good team, whose goaltender was on his game. Think about it, when was the last time the Caps really did that and you weren't surprised if not shocked? For me it's pretty much been since the end of the 2011-12 season that I've felt this solidly confident in the Capital's abilities to play through adversity, play hard on the puck and 110%, 200 foot hockey and not get frustrated by an NHL goalie on his game or otherwise do something that gave the opposing team a real opening to beat them with. I've got to say, it's a really good feeling for a fanboy like me. Also looking back at my December 6th musing, I also want to say that every player on the list I did, save one are all more valuable to the team and contributory to it's ability to win then I felt they were three weeks ago. The one player whose gone "down" in the rating system I used back on December 6th being Jason Chimera, but I'm guessing if you read this blog you probably already knew that.
The last game of December for the Capitals is tomorrow in Uniondale against the New York Islanders, the Isles are in second place in the Metropolitan Division and Third in the Eastern Conference with 47 points in 35 games. Tomorrow's game on the Island will likely be very similar to last night's game in Pittsburgh, the Caps will face a good team anchored by a couple very fast skilled forwards and a very solid goaltender. To win against the Islanders they'll have to play a similar "heavy" game. That is apparently the new vernacular for a physical, tightly contested game of hockey as per yesterday's NBCsn team that called the Caps/Pens game.
I'm now quite "bullish" on the Caps, and assuming they play tomorrow's game the same way they did yesterday's contest, I'm looking for a 4 - 2 Caps victory, the four players to ponder in my view are: Holtby and Halak in goal and Backstrom and Tavares up front. In the meantime