RECAP 14: Nowinber Continues

The Penguins played the Capitals last night. Enter witty pregame banter here. Due to Rads absence, almost every gameday and recap post has been completed by a collection of hectic emails sent from Finland to Boston to Philly at bizarre hours of the night. Since almost every post is written by at least three of us we thought it would be less confusing for all of you and easier for us if we made a staff account. This prevents people (Finn, the big fluffy teddybear) from getting their feelings hurt when someone in the comments says “great post Rad” and all the bully did was enter a graphic. Okay, back to this game.

True to his practice Mike Sullivan kept the lines from the day before

Of note Sully gives Of Smith the start over Murray.

The game was on NBCSN, blame Rad, he didn’t give us a proper gameday banner and we were thoroughly unprepared for Doc OFF THE POSSSSTTT Emrik. The first period was very slow, the first 5 minutes took about an hour. At some point TJ Oshie took a stick up high, Eddie Olczyk acted like Oshie died, I’m sure RMNB will have four posts about this later so just read about Maatta’s intent over there. Oshie, as we see all the time in hockey, left to get stitches and then came back for the rest of the game…

The Capitals would take their first penalty of the game halfway through the period and we got our first look at the new powerplay. Simon-Crosby-Guentzel on the first unit was a laughable concept until Simon and Guentzel worked like dogs and Jack Johnson made a killer pass to a somehow wide open Sidney Crosby

SIDNEY CROSBY (7) Assisted by JOHNSON (2) @ 12:16 PPG

This is probably the best think Johnson has done this year, really good vision and hands on this play. It still amazes me how Crosby can manage to get wide open so many times a game, he just keeps moving and eventually he crosses every defenders “boundaries” and winds up unmarked.

 

The rest of the first was the Penguins hitting posts, the Capitals hitting a post, and NBCSN talking about how hard it must be for the Capitals to play while worrying about Oshie.

After the last four games the coaching staff was probably thrilled with this effort. Of note, the Capitals powerplay was challenged by the Penguins short handed unit, an aggressiveness on the PK we haven’t seen possibly since 2016 when the team actively challenged the opposing powerplay. The result was very good.

The second period started with the Penguins hitting like four posts while tilting the ice for six minutes until Crosby took a “hooking” penalty. I added a note about the Pens penalty kill after the first period, they did the exact opposite on this one and Ovechkin scored from his spot to even things up.

The PK that pushed the Caps around in the first fell out of sync and as the tweet says, this is too easy for Ovechkin. Following the goal some stuff happened at even strength until the Pens were going back on the powerplay thanks to a Kempny tripping penalty. This time the new powerplay units looked on ice like they do on paper and nothing happened until Casey DeSmith had to take a tripping penalty to prevent a scoring chance. After 9 seconds of 4v4 the Caps went back to work on the powerplay and the Pens PK went back to what worked in the first, the result was a Capitals team not getting any good looks while the Pens got two.

After the kill the game was even strength for two minutes before Malkin was called for taking the bait of Carlson. The Caps powerplay was again challenged by the Pens and was again out chanced by the Pens, maybe they should stick to this attack method of penalty killing?

Following the kill not much happened, Letang made a nice play to break up a scoring chance. Despite the 3 powerplay chances and a goal the Pens finished the period with 12 scoring chances to the Caps 6 which is a pretty decent period of hockey, not just a “road period” as Doc and Eddie like to say.

40 minutes in and the only cheap shot Tom Wilson had was of Evan Williams.

The third was barely underway before the Penguins were getting their third powerplay of the game, and Sullivan decided he was bringing back the original PP lineup.

The Pens powerplay was abruptly ended when Malkin gave Oshie a forearm shiver. Malkin was ejected with a game misconduct penalty and will most likely get a call from the league. Luckily this happened against the Capitals, their fans are all too familiar with the shoulder being the primary point of contact.

Malkin definitely made eye contact and leaned into Oshie, Oshie definitely made zero effort of slowing down, avoiding, or doing anything to stop the collision because had Malkin not passed this puck Oshie was going to hit Geno. Bottom line. Geno shouldn’t have raised his arm, but if you are driving and see a deer you don’t just keep going until it hits you unless you’re stupid or a hunter. Let’s not forget TJ Oshie was under scrutiny for two dirty hits during the playoffs last year where he left his feet to make contact. What was Oshie doing here exactly? He isn’t a defenseless player with the puck. He is a defending player without the puck skating straight at someone who just had the puck… it almost looks like Oshie was planning one of his signature interferences and got his own medicine.

The Capitals powerplay was once again out-chanced by the Penguins penalty kill. Following the kill the Capitals fans were eager for retribution of their overpaid hero but it was the Penguins that started tilting the ice. Within a 90 second ram the Pens had three grade A chances all turned away by Holtby including robbing Garrett Wilson of his first NHL goal

The Pens continued playing the way they seem to play on the road, occasionally the Caps would get chances but DeSmith was there. Crosby made a ridiculous 200 foot effort that started with him taking a shot on goal and ended with him blocking a shot on goal at one point. By the time there was 5 minutes remaining it felt like a dirty goal would be the winner [this statement written in real time, hopefully it doesn’t make me look stupid].

For the second time in the game Timothy Jimothy Oshie returned after leaving the ice, because he was again not actually hurt. When the dudes hockey career is over there is no doubt he is going into sales. After being on the ice for two seconds he reminded everyone that he wasn’t close to being hurt but is a giant douche

How did the refs miss this slew foot you ask? Simple, the refs don’t ref the game they manage it and this was simply “oh he got hurt so it’s okay.” This was the play Sullivan was so pissed about, and it’s something Oshie does all the time. I’m glad the dude isn’t concussed but I’m also glad that Capital fans think his salary is a bargain.

Three seconds later the Caps oddly had more men in the play than the Pens but Letang made a terrific defensive play on Stephensen on a one-on-one followed by the veteran move of catching a deflected puck in the midsection and pretending like it was stuck in his equipment in an attempt to avoid dropping it in the crease.

After an icing the Capitals basically put the powerplay unit out, and of course TJ Oshie would find a wide open ent and score, which was impressive for a guy who lost an eye and was concussed. The Penguins pulled the goalie but looked completely heart broken and deservedly so, the final buzzer would go off 70 seconds later.

THOUGHTS:

  • Despite the “heroics” of Timothy Jimothy being able to walk down the hallway and back Holtby is the only reason the Capitals won this game
  • The “Wednesday Night Hockey” is much better than rivalry night, but after watching three Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts this year NBCSN just does not compare. I don’t know if there is too much banter, if Doc gets too excited over nothing, or if it is just a combination of everything but their coverage isn’t doing the league justice
  • Tom Wilson, as a repeat offender broke ZARs jaw in the playoffs and was suspended for 3 games. Capitals fans demanding more than 1 game for Genos hit are stupid. If you are using Tom Wilson in your argument for Geno’s play you’ve already lost said argument
  • The new line combinations were a success, multiple players including Bryan Rust were visible the entire game. Sullivan mixed the lines up a bit in the second and put Kessel with Sid and Guentzel which not only resulted in that line getting good looks but also¬† some nice chemistry between Simon-Sheahan-Rust.
  • The fourth line looked really good, not sure that Wilson was an improvement over Sprong but Cullen-ZAR >>>>> Grant-Cullen.
  • Is Recchi in charge of the powerplay or is it Sullivan? If it’s Sullivan then what exactly does Recchi do for this team other than look like a guy that knows a guy behind the bench?
  • Five straight losses for the first time under Sullivan, but this one felt much better.
  • The Pens held the Caps to 22 shots but still couldn’t score at even strength.

No hockey porn entries. Thanks, NBC & Timothy Leif.