It is Wednesday, my dudes, and the 8th week of Washington Capitals games. The Caps are currently on a 5-game road trip and took the first two dubs against the New Jersey Devils. This week the Capitals will be facing the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, March 3rd and Friday, March 5th, then traveling down to visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, March 7th. Last week Vitek Vanecek was FINALLY able to take a breath of fresh air after the Capitals were able to get Ilya Samsonov back from the never-ending back-and-forth of placing him on the taxi squad and sending him to Hershey. After battling COVID, he was in need of quite a few conditioning games to get him up and going again. It was his first start since mid-January and the dude definitely looked a bit rusty, as expected. He was able to thankfully secure a win for us and stepped up when we needed him most, but the two shots he let by him were absolutely a bust. I will say the first goal by Maltsev was perfectly deflected into the net by Orlov, so I won’t hash on Sammy too much on that one. I was in the hot seat a bit with Caps twitter after blaming Ilya for those two goals, but they were definitely two savable shots. “iTs HiS fIrSt GaMe BaCk!” Yes, that is true, but he didn’t look so hot during the conditioning games he had with Hershey, either. Hopefully he gets back on his roll soon. Either way, Vitek should undoubtedly be considered the starter now.
With that being said, the Capitals have been looking pretty hot, as of late. Since February 16th, they are 6-1-1 and tied with the most points during that period of time. The Caps are currently first in the Massmutual East with 28 points and a record of 12-5-4, but the standings are so fucking close there’s absolutely no room for feeling comfortable no matter where they stand.
Wednesday, March 3rd & Friday, March 5th @ 7 pm – Capitals @ Bruins
Every time the Caps play the Bruins, I think it’s safe to say we all collectively hold our breath, considering they’re undoubtedly our most challenging opponent in our division. Although our record against them has been pretty decent in recent years, they are neck and neck at claiming that top seed. With Pasta being back and 100% healthy, their perfection line is doing quite some damage, as expected. The Bruins have one of the best, if not the best, top lines in the league. Caps defense has been trending upwards and is definitely playing tighter and more aggressively, but holding back the Bruins top line will be challenging but must keep the game close. The B’s are a fast team with a defense that plays REALLY tight with barely any breathing room. The Caps are going to need to pick up the pace and find different ways to find scoring opportunities, preferably in front of the net.
The Bruins are currently first in the league for Faceoff Win% and third for PK%. It is notable to say, though, that the Caps have jumped up QUITE a bit in terms of winning faceoffs, thanks to Michael Peca, who was hired at the beginning of February. Although we have been winning more faceoffs, our PP% and PK% have hit a bit of a downfall, which is crucial to capitalize on, especially against teams like the Bruins.
The Caps and Bruins are 1-1-0 against each other so far this season.
Sunday, March 7th @ 7 pm – Capitals @ Flyers
The Capitals first meeting against the Flyers this season on February 7th didn’t go so hot; the Caps fell in a 7-4 loss. The Capitals did a decent job at creating scoring chances and actually outshot the Flyers 37-23. Getting more time in their offensive zone was something the Caps needed to capitalize on, which they ended up doing, thankfully. It’s very important to mention that the top line, Ovechkin-Backstrom-Wilson, had a fucking GAME. They stacked up a combined total of 11 points and played their asses off. The Caps forgot that they had to play 60 minutes of hockey, though, and allowed the Flyers to massively outshoot them in the third, resulting in their loss.
After the Flyers had lost basically half their team throughout the season so far due to COVID, their team is fully healthy, once again. I know I sound like a broken record, but with the Capitals being the oldest team in the league, pretty much all the teams they face are going to be much faster than they are. Keeping up with the Flyers offensively is tough, so they need to make sure they get some beauty sleep the night before. The Capitals have done somewhat better at bringing the heat throughout all three periods of the game, but it still hasn’t felt like they’ve played a full 60 minutes just yet.
Since the Capitals are traveling to Philly, it is expected that Hart will be in net. Although Hart definitely isn’t having the type of year he expected, he is still pretty exceptional at home. The last matchup Vitek was in net and didn’t look as sharp as usual, resulting in him being taken out in the third. He also had just started nine consecutive games, though. Samsonov is back and available, but if I were Peter Laviolette, I would stick with the hot hand, which has been Vanecek.
The Flyers are a very good home team, and this Sunday will be their first game with fans back in the stands, and of course, it’s against the Capitals. How fun!?
The Capitals are 0-1-0 against the Flyers so far this season.
Although us Caps fans are very hard on the Capitals, they have been looking quite well recently. Ovechkin still is unfortunately having a bit of a cold streak, which does suck, but we also have to realize the reality we are living in right now. With the NHL this season only allowing divisions to play each other, we have to realize how tough the Massmutual East is. All of the goaltenders in this division are pretty fucking amazing, which most of them have seen Ovi’s playing style a numerous amount of times and have all eyes on him. The silver lining in this, though, is that the puck has been getting passed to other forwards, creating more scoring chances and actually helps the Caps capitalize on these plays more often than not. I’m still looking for a full 60-minutes of gameplay from the Caps and to not sit back when carrying a lead, but hoping they continue their upward trend of gaining points. As per usual, take a look at @statguyblake stats for this week, as well.