Best All Star game ever
A frustrated but passionate Washington Capitals fan since 1974.
The player dubbed “Mr. Game 7” for his Stanley Cup championship playoff heroics, although it is a moniker he prefers to shrug off, is one smart hockey player. The hockey IQ of Justin Williams makes him the type of player that the Caps needed to add to their lineup at the end of last season. T.J. Oshie and Williams added critical veteran leadership and hard-working players to this team and helped to amplify the culture Coach Barry Trotz set out to build.
I learned about number 8 by reading about him months before he stepped foot on the ice for the Washington Capitals. As a long suffering Caps fan, I could not imagine Washington being a destination for a generational player, but that is exactly what Caps fans have witnessed, 10-years of a generational player’s career to become only the 43rd person in NHL history to score 500 goals. From his first two goal, shattered glass game against the Columbus Blue Jackets through his next 498 goals, the joy of watching Alex Ovechkin has never faded.
The Washington Capitals place on top of the Eastern Conference by nine points could not have come at a better time. The season is nearing its mid-point at 38 games and key injuries are piling up for this team. The Caps wins have come in a variety of ways, but they have also benefited from Goalie Braden Holtby’s Vezina contending season to get them on top and keep them there. Now, with key players out the Caps get to display how they react when adversity strikes.
Braden Holtby’s play in net this season has put him on top of the NHL leader board with the most wins at 21. The Caps lead the league with the lowest goals against per game with 2.61 and most of that is due to Holtby. Watching him develop into an elite goalie under Coach Mitch Korn is fun. But, the Caps players have not given him, or his backup Philip Grubauer, the defense they deserve. The goalies need more support.
Watching Evgeny Kuznetsov skate circles around the opposing goalie’s net without losing the puck or getting touched by defenders as he dishes to Dmitry Orlov for the game winner against the Jets shows the wait for his presence in the Caps lineup was worth it. Former General Manager George McPhee knew the skill Kuznetsov would bring to the Caps. It makes the loss of Filip Forsberg, a bad and desperate GMGM move, a tiny bit less painful. Also, Forsberg is a winger while Kuznetsov is the second line center the Caps have needed since Alex Ovechkin entered the league ten years ago.
In 77 games last season, winger Jason Chimera generated 7 goals and 12 assists and ended with a minus-1. In 17 games this season, Chimera has 5 goals and 2 assist with a minus-4. This includes a 2 goal, 1 assist night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Both of his goals came on the power play, an area where the Caps needed traffic in front of the net. They got that with Chimera parked in front of goalie Steve Mason. He netted two goals on the power play in that game, the most he has ever had in one season.