Capitals End Skid, Beat Coyotes 4-3
The Washington Capitals have not looked very good in the month of November. Tonight though, they looked the best that they’ve looked in weeks as they beat the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 4-3. Hopefully the Capitals will be able to build off of this, as they play six of their next seven games at home.
The game did not start off well for the Capitals. They couldn’t finish their chances, and worst of all, the Coyotes got two short-handed goals, including one off a penalty shot in the second period. The penalty shot goal apparently woke the Caps up, as they dominated from there on out. They finished the second period with goals from John Carlson (unassisted) and Cody Eakin (assist given to Jeff Schultz) to tie it up 2-2. They took the lead with Nicklas Backstrom’s sixth goal of the year (assists given to Joel Ward and Alex Ovechkin) and got an insurance power play goal (yes you read that correctly) from Brooks Laich (assist given to Backstrom) to make it 4-2. They needed that insurance goal because the Coyotes would score another goal. Down the stretch, the Capitals were able to take care of business and Tomas Vokoun was able to lock down when he needed to.
There were two major story lines from tonight’s game: Dmitry Orlov’s NHL debut and Alex Semin being scratched. Orlov did well in his NHL debut. He struggled a little on defense, but he did a great job moving the puck out of the Capitals’ defensive zone. He got some chances, and more importantly, he created chances with his play from the point. I still think he needs a little more seasoning in Hershey, but overall I was definitely impressed.
As far as Semin, I can see why he was scratched. As Bruce Boudreau put it, “He was taking penalties seven games in a row. At some point you have to be accountable for your errors.” While I can understand Boudreau’s logic, I respectfully disagree. There have been other players who needed to be benched this year because of stupid mistakes, but Bruce seems to be unjustly hard on #28. One example stands out. When Brooks Laich celebrated a goal that didn’t happen (which allowed another goal to score), I fully expected Bruce to bench Brooks. This coming from one of Laich’s biggest fans. Bruce, however, seemed to shrug it off. Also, Roman Hamrlik has earned a benching with his horrible play, and so far, Bruce has yet to do it. Semin’s just going through a rough patch. He’s doing everything right: he’s working his tail off, and recently, some of his penalties have been horrible calls.
That being said, Semin can’t change what has already happened. There are two ways that Semin can respond to this: It can either motivate him and he’ll learn from it, or it will further frustrate him and probably force his departure. I hope Semin chooses the first option. This team needs Semin in the long-run.
My three stars from the game:
- Nicklas Backstrom. I can’t stress how valuable he is to the Capitals. He’s having a great bounce-back year and has taken his game to the next level so far.
- Cody Eakin. Had a momentum shifting goal in the second period and moved the puck well all game long.
- Joel Ward. Had an assist on Backstrom’s goal and dominated the boards all game long. Was a force in the hitting game as well.
The Capitals’ next game is on Wednesday, when they play the Winnipeg Jets. Hopefully this new found energy that the Capitals had tonight will carry over.