Giving the Hosts the Blues for a Change

The Capitals got four goals in last night’s game against Jaroslov Halak that they probably would have preferred to have had in last season’s playoff series against him, when Halak was with the Habs. Halak now guards the cage for a St. Louis Blues team that the Caps held to only one goal Wednesday on the road. Wednesday night’s 4-1 Capitals’ victory represents their first triumph in St. Louis in 14 years! The Caps had gone 0-7-1 in St. Louis since their last victory there in October of 1996.

But the goaltender of the night was Semyon Varlamov; his 37 saves rightly earned him first star designation. “I think this was his best game because his rebound control was so good,” Bruce Boudreau said afterward.

  • A 4-1 win on the road is definitely an impressive, especially in a victory-drought town like St. Louis, and the Caps deserve credit for delivering the third and fourth knockout-punch goals in the third period, after St. Louis closed it to 2-1 late in the second stanza.
  • St. Louis had just lost their first game at home on the season last Saturday night to Dallas, and they had to play in Chicago on Tuesday night — a wild 7-5 setback. But the Blues’ took a fair bit of the play to the Caps Wednesday night when you thought that perhaps the fatigue associated with travel and a tough game might have aided the visitors.
  • Both the separating tallies in the third came from Nicklas Backstrom, whose offensive output has dramatically increased of late. His second goal was an empty netter, but the announcers noted – and it’s worth repeating – that the goal could have easily been an Alex Ovechkin attempt, but Ovi decided to make a great pass to a teammate instead of trying for the shot on goal himself.  It was just the type of decision you want to see out of a team captain. The only real “uh-oh” moment of the game for the Caps came when the Blues scored their one and only goal at the end of the second period.
  • That being said, Wednesday’s game reminded us how much we can’t wait to see the new defensive defenseman and latest acquisition Scott Hannan log ice time for the Capitals.  While the Caps finished with a solid 3-goal lead, the shots on goal were lopsided in the Blues’ favor: 38 to 26. And, frankly, while it’s breathtaking to watch, Semyon Varlamov had to make a few too many showstopping saves.  Here’s hoping Hannan can help give the Caps’ netminders a bit more breathing room, more of a comfort zone not far out of the crease.
  • D.J. King got his first point of the season against his old team when he had an assist with Tom Poti on Boyd Gordon’s second-stanza tally. The scoring sheet was an interesting mix this evening – Nicklas Backstrom dominated with three points, but Mike Knuble, John Carlson, Ovechkin, John Erskine and Alexander Semin had a point each, and Brooks Laich got a goal on the Caps’ power play.
  • Finally, the one goal Varlamov did let in was a weird beauty – Alexander Steen shot from along the near boards, and it looked like neither Varlamov nor those watching at home on TV (ahem) could quite figure out how it went in. It was very much a seeing-eye strike.
  • It’s quickly back to work for the Caps, who could be prone to the proverbial letdown game tonight in Dallas against a surprising Stars’ club. The Stars were believed by many to be close to being in rebuilding mode entering this season, but this morning they’re in first in the Pacific division and third overall out West. Another historically tough building for the Caps to play in.
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This entry was posted in Bruce Boudreau, D. J. King, Dallas Stars, National Hockey League, Nicklas Backstrom, Scott Hannan, Semyon Varlamov, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Giving the Hosts the Blues for a Change

  1. sean says:

    With Poti not playing in the third last night, McPhee might know more than we do about his injury in regard to the signing of Hannan. On Shultz’s play last night, I actually saw him lift his stick off the ice and give someone half a cross-check, throwing his body around might be right around the corner(Just a little Christmas wish I have).

  2. Joe says:

    Actually the Caps only got 3 against Halak. The 4th goal was an empty net goal.

  3. Paul says:

    Great read.

    Only one small critique and this is not exactly directed you, but sports writers in general.

    Stop it with the “fatigue associated with travel” bit. These are elite athletes, they should no be getting “fatigued” after flying a couple of hours and spending a night in a luxury hotel. The reason the Blues were pressuring the Capitals is because the Blues were moving their feet and working hard along the boards during those shifts and the Capitals weren’t.

  4. xke4me says:

    I was also underwhelmed by the Cap’s play last night. Lots of throwing the puck around to nobody going on. Varly saved a lot of folks’ bacon last night. He was the reason the Caps won.

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