With an electric one-time goal just 1:11 into the game and also an assist, this is now the fourth straight game that Alexander Ovechkin has put up at least two points. (Eight points in the last four games.)
Alex has also put up at least a point in seven straight games, tallying eleven points over that stretch and playing lights out defensively at the same time.
Safe to say that reports of the Great 8’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
The numbers get better…
Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames was also the 3rd time in 4 games that the Capitals limited the other team to just one goal. (All starts by Tomas Vokoun, a stretch that perhaps not coincidently, coincides with a four-game Capitals winning-streak).
Shall we explore this further?
- With two assists Tuesday night, Marcus Johansson now has four points in the last four games.
- For the fourth straight game Jeff Halpern had more faceoff wins then losses.
- Roman Hamrlik now has 13 blocks in the past four games. As Japers Rink expertly pointed out before Tuesday’s game, ‘The Hammer’ has only been on the ice for two goals in the eleven games he’s played under Hunter. (Japers also pointed out that this is quite a change from the 31 goals Hamrlik was on ice for in the 22 games he played under Bruce Boudreau.) After tonight, it’s now two goals given up in the last twelve games. Ovechkin clearly isn’t the only Capitals candidate for mid-season comeback of the year.
- He had 9:25 of ice time four games earlier in a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers, and as his play has improved in every game since then, Mike Knuble has seen an increase in ice-time every night over this four game stretch. Playing most often against Calgary on a line with Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer, Knuble had 18:35 of TOI, a recent high for big Mike. While his stat line only lists one shot on goal, Knuble did an excellent job fighting through checks in the offensive zone and keeping the puck moving in the corner. Mike also had more than a few good scoring chances near the net. Right there is a good indicator of something we really like under Hunter. Dale will not make the wild, almost speculative in-game changes to lines that seemed to be the norm under Boudreau, but he will absolutely reward his players for better play.
- Vokoun’s save percentage over the past five games he’s played? .954. That’s phenomenal. Perhaps even more importantly, Vokoun has given up exactly zero third period goals over that five game stretch. As for the Caps defenders, they haven’t always been perfect for Vokoun, but under Hunter’s system we are noticing the opposition getting fewer shots from the middle of the Capitals zone, with more coming from the side. If you’re going to give up shots, that’s exactly where they should come from.
- The last fourteen power play opportunities for the opposition have all been killed off by the Washington Capitals. That’s gangsta.
When the numbers look good, the people involved look good. When the people involved look good, so do those who helped organize their efforts. In that sense, there is no shortage of rave reviews for Hunter’s system which employs the trap when the Capitals have the lead, and relies on making simple correct decisions on offense.
“Everybody’s buying into everything and working very hard. That’s the most important thing. No one is taking it easy. Everyone is working their hardest every night.” –Marcus Johansson
Media: In terms of Hunter’s system, is this now how it is supposed to look? “I think so. We’ve had some real good games in the last 16 to 17 games he’s been here for us. It’s really about fine-tuning it. Making sure that guys are really paying attention to what they’ve been doing in the defensive zone.” –Troy Brouwer
But just as Hunter’s coaching methods have paid dividends on the ice, the injuries have mounted.
Mike Green may finally be back, but with Alexander Semin day-to-day, the Capitals late Tuesday saw an injury to the man who may actually be the most important player on this team.
With three assists, Nicklas Backstrom helped to set up every single goal the Capitals scored tonight. He wouldn’t get to finish the game as Rene Bourque would cheaply throw an elbow to Backstrom’s head, midway through the third. Nicklas had to leave the game and we’ll know more about his status tomorrow.
One comes, (Green) and two (Semin and Backstrom) go. People often say that the quickest way to lose your mind is to play a bad round of golf. That’s ludicrous! On a bad day, hockey still allows you no ‘gimmies.’ The sport always makes you work. For the Washington Capitals, that unfortunately means that tough times appear to be the unjust non-reward for tougher play. We wish Nicklas Backstrom a very speedy recovery.