Caps beat Maple Leafs 4-1 on Mike Gartner night
The Washington Capitals started last night by raising Mike Gartner's banner to the rafters and retiring #11. Gartner is a hall of fame hockey player that ranks second in goals, assists and points in Caps history, at least, so far! It was great to see the old Caps in the phone booth, Rod Langway and Yvon Labre among them.
Gartner joined Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin in the booth later and I loved his description of Alex Ovechkin who is sure to join Gartner in the records books if his career continues on its current trajectory. Gartner described Ovie as "the hungriest hockey player I've ever seen." What an apt description and it was on display last night when Ovie scored with 10 seconds left in the 2nd period to give the Caps the lead after hitting the post on a shot right before that goal.
- Brooks Laich, 1st star of the night, scored two goals by "going to the net" and throwing the garbage in, one from his own rebound, past Toronto's goalie Vessa Toskala. According to Tarik's report, Laich asked Coach Boudreau what he needed to do to get his scoring touch back and Boudreau told him to simplify his game and quit trying to be cute (a problem for too many Caps at times this year). Brooksie got the well-deserved hard hat.
- Alex Ovechkin, 2nd star of the game, scored two goals, including an empty netter that many fans felt he should have passed to Laich for the hat trick, but there was a defenseman in the way. He also played +2 hockey.
- Jose Theodore, 3rd star of the game, won his 3rd in a row even after letting in the first goal of the game at 14:23 in the first. He stopped 23 shots. Theodore is playing with more confidence, but inconsistency has been his curse in the past so I hope his plays stays strong. Caps need that if they're going to make any noise in the playoffs this year.
- Chris Clark mixed it up on the ice. He's playing better than he did with a forearm stress fracture (no surprise there) and I like seeing his grit back on the ice. The Capitals don't have very many physical hockey players and it showed against the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs last year. Now, I'd like Clarkie to score.
- Mike Green and Jeff Schultz returned to the lineup and played +2 hockey.
- Karl Alzner and Milan Jurcina continued playing well as a defensive pairing and played +1 hockey.
- Matt Bradley crashing into the boards head first with a sickening sound. He walked off the ice, totally dazed, as if he didn't know who he was. Brads is supposedly okay, but I'll wait until I see him on the ice before I believe that. He's a huge leader on this team and he'll do anything for these guys as evidenced by his continual beatings at the hands of other heavy weights in the league when Brads wants to take one for his team.
A great hockey blog read with predictions for 2009 is here. I love this quote in the January section, "With nine regulars out of the lineup, the Capitals go undefeated during the month of January." This team has been awesome in the face of an amazing number of injuries.
Caps visit the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night. Let's go Caps!