During one of our daily conversations regarding how truly great all DC sports teams are, and what glorious futures await them all, Bobtimist Prime and I inevitably turned to the Capitals and last night’s eagerly anticipated revenge match against the Devils. Revenge for that stupid game earlier in the week, and the stupid bounces that always seem to go in favor of Marty Brodeur. I for one felt Cristobal Huet was destined for a 31-save shutout. Bobtimist felt equally strongly that Sergei Fedorov would find instant chemistry with Alexander Semin, and that he would play a key role in the game. This instant chemistry would allow Viktor Kozlov to again flourish on the top line with Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
We further discussed (drooled over?) the coming gluttonous depth at forward the Capitals will soon have, since the now-skating Chris Clark seems to be making progress, if subtle, non-attention-getting progress. A healthy Clark would be a tremendous fit skating with Semin and Fedorov, in the same way he complimented Ovechkin and Zubrus last year, and Ovechkin and Backstrom this year.
Who knew the collective DCO overload of optimism regarding this game would prove so true? Huet may have made 13 fewer saves than I thought he would, but he still stopped everything. Bobtimist was dead-on in his assessment of an instant gelling on the second line, and of a game that felt the presence of Sergei Fedorov in all aspects: even strength, power play, penalty kill. The no-look pass to Semin that seconds later resulted in another Mike Green defensemen-leading score is evidence the second line will again be potent.
Speaking of potency, there may be some manner of growing concern over Ovechkin’s little goal-scoring slump. It may be seven games and counting sans-goal, but it’s not as if he’s not involved in the offense, or doesn’t still present an imminent threat to score every time he corrals the puck. His nifty little cross-ice pass to Kozlov for a score shows he’s still capable of producing in this temporary downturn, even if the road to 60 goals is becoming slightly more difficult. He’ll still get there. In the meantime, there are plenty of primary assists to be had.
The shutout of the Devils was of course important because of the Hurricanes’ inept attempt at playing hockey against the Rangers the other night. The door was open to close the division deficit to three points, and here we are again. Three points back, two games in hand. Time to get closer and make it really interesting during the next five weeks.