The devoted Caps fans who spent a few hours watching the game on a Friday night deserved the impressive show of hockey playing they saw out of their team. They deserved better than the rest of what they saw.
In case you missed it, your Washington Capitals demolished and demoralized the Philadelphia Flyers, in Philly, by a final score of 7-0. After a familiarly-slow start, Nicklas Backstrom sent a beauty of a one-timer over Steve Mason’s outside shoulder to open the scoring and shift the momentum in the Caps’ favor. It never shifted back. Joel Ward scored his first hat trick ever. Braden Holtby recorded his first shutout of the season, stopping all 30 of the shots he faced. The Caps scored on 2 of 5 power plays, and successfully killed 6 penalties.
If you read that last sentence and inferred that there were a total of 22 PIMs in this game, you’re short by 142. Let me say that one more time: the officials imposed one hundred sixty-four penalty infraction minutes in this game. It wasn’t pretty.
Volpatti fought Downie. Wilson fought Simmonds. Oleksy fought Lecavalier. Urbom fought Brayden Schenn. Holtby was fought by Flyers’ goalie Ray Emery.
Here’s the worst part: the three stars of the game were 1) Ward (and fair enough), 2) Backstrom, and 3) Emery–who neither started nor finished the game, had a SV% of .733, and displayed an uncommon degree of goonery, even by Philly standards.
The three stars are a longstanding tradition of hockey. They are generally awarded by a vote the local media in attendance, and the three stars often include a player from the losing team, especially if the visiting team wins. If one of the netminders playing last night deserved a star, I’m not going out on a limb by saying it’s the one who earned a shutout, as opposed to the one who let in about a quarter of the shots he faced. Yet the Philly media saw fit to thank Emery with the third star of the game for the defilement he left on the ice. Shame on them. (Conciliatory note: this morning and early afternoon, media in Philadelphia and elsewhere have roundly criticized Emery for his barbarism. Good on them.)
What’s the takeaway here? We beat a sub-par team badly, and some of them reacted like animals instead of professionals. The Flyers should burn the tape, and I think we should, too. We play the Florida Panthers this evening–another inferior team–for a chance to hit .500, and I want to see the Caps on the ice with no hangover from last night’s game… even if a few of the guys still have headaches.