Do yourself a favor and just mute this video to spare yourself from the ESPN commentating…”Martin Saint Louie”…really?
Believe it or not, the NHL made its return today. The Washington Capitals started the season off on the road against its division rival Tampa Bay Lightning, hoping to spoil the season opener in the sunshine state.
The Lightning took an early lead just over six minutes into the game after Eric Brewer lit the lamp for the home team. The Caps would respond with a goal from Joel Ward on a delayed penalty, but Tampa Bay was able to respond with a goal of their own courtesy of Vinny Lecavalier just under a minute later. The Caps continued to play goal-for-goal catchup through the first two periods, never letting the Lightning gain more than a one goal lead, but also never gaining any sort of lead over the Lightning at any point. The Caps second and third goals came from Ward and Wojtek Wolski, respectively. After two periods the score was an even 3-3.
Following the same pattern of the first two periods, the Lightning took the lead yet again just under five minutes into the third period off of a goal from St. Louis. Though, unlike the pattern of the first two periods, the Caps would not match the Lightning’s fourth goal. Martin St. Louis, Cory Conacher, and Eric Brewer would get the final three goals for the Lightning, making the final score a 6-3 victory in favor of the home team.
We all remember how great Holtby was last postseason, but is he the real deal? Honestly, I’m not sold.
Remember that time that a young Russian netminder by the name of Semyon Varlamov came up from Hershey to bail out the Caps in a best of seven series in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Rangers? If so, then remember how the Caps eventually lost game seven in round two of the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins?
Or how about that time that a promising young goaltender by the name of Michal Neuvirth earned a full time roster spot with the Caps after coming off of winning back-to-back Calder Cup championships in the AHL, even winning playoff MVP one of those years? Yeah, the one that, like Varlamov, helped the Caps eliminate the Rangers in round one of the playoffs. Then, again similarly to Varlamov, Neuvy and the Caps were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs after they were swept, repeat SWEPT, by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Photo by Elena Rusko
Somewhere, Capitals’ top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is chuckling to himself.
Kuznetsov, the 20-year-old Russian drafted by the Caps in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, pissed off Caps fans when he made headlines this past spring for deciding to spend at least an additional two years in the KHL rather than making the jump to the NHL.
One main contributing factor to his decision has been said to be the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which start in just two years. Basically, Kuznetsov was afraid that by leaving Russia to play in North America, he might have to spend some time playing in the AHL before getting a full-time roster spot in the NHL. Further, Kuznetsov believed that by playing in the AHL instead of the KHL or NHL, he would have less of a chance of making the Russian Olympic team…and there’s no way that he would want to miss out on a chance to represent his country in the Olympics, especially when they’re being held in his home country. As a result, he took what he thought was the safest option and stayed in the KHL.
Many have trashed Kuznetsov’s reasoning for staying in Russia…and mostly for good reason.
For example, fellow countryman Dmitry Orlov made the jump to North America and was able to find a permanent place in the Capitals dressing room about halfway through his first season that he was eligible to play in the NHL.
Sure Kuznetsov and Orlov are different players, but that doesn’t mean that a similar scenario couldn’t happen with Kuznetsov. Further, some would even argue that Kuznetsov would spend little to no time in the AHL anyways.
Regardless, today it seems like Kuznetsov might have made the right decision after all.
Now that Game 1 is over, the Playoffs have officially started and the jitters and butterflies are hopefully gone for good.
While Game 1 ended up being a loss for the Caps, I still feel like it was a win for the Caps mentally. After the shakey season they just finished, it would have been more than easy to go into enemy territory and get rocked by the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Instead, the Caps stood strongly, even when short handed on three different occasions, and battled this one out right through the end of regulation and into overtime.
I hate to make excuses, but with the circumstances of this particular Game 1, the chances of the home team losing a game like that are very low. What more can you ask of the Caps? All it really came down to was one shot.
Well then again, there actually might be a few thinks that you could ask for more of from the Caps.
Officially announced by the Washington Capitals this morning, goalie Dany Sabourin has been recalled from the Hershey Bears. With both Vokoun and Neuvirth out of the lineup due to injury, Braden Holtby needs a backup. And no, it won’t be Caps PR director Sergey Kocharov this time.
Sabourin, 31, has not played in an NHL regular season game since January of 2009. Further, Sabourin’s last NHL regular season win dates all the way back to December of 2008.
While the stats above might be a bit of an eyebrow raiser, so might his recent stats from playing in the AHL; though a different kind of eyebrow raiser this time. Recently in the month of March, Sabourin went 8-1-1 with the Hershey Bears. Further, Sabourin also had a 7-game winning streak during his 8-1-1 stretch. As a whole, Sabourin is 18-11-5 with the Bears this season and has a 2.81 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
The Caps’ current goalie situation can pretty much be compared to using duct tape to fix something. It might not be perfect, but it will work…hopefully.