Fedorov had played most of his distinguished career for the Red Wings but had ended his NHL with the Caps. Capitals’ fans recalled how they acquired him at the trading deadline in 2008 in hopes that he still had “something” left in the tank. But he showed so much leadership in the locker room that he was brought back the following season by “popular” demand. Just prior to the game, Fedorov dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff between the Caps’ Captain, Alex Ovechkin, and the Red Wing’s Captain, Henrik Zetterberg.
Sad to say, that was probably the highlight of the game for any Caps’ fans watching, as the Caps lost 1-0. Caps outshot the Red Wings, 38-26, but bowed 1-0. In an attempt to break Sergei Fedorov’s record for “Most Goals Scored By a Russian Player”, Alex Ovechkin had 15 shots but none found the back of the net. It seemed that the other guys on the ice with Ovechkin were concentrating on passing to him instead of shooting themselves. Most of the Caps’ shots were of the “one and done” variety, while Detroit seemed to have more dangerous shots. The Caps had three power plays as opposed to only one for Detroit but were unable to convert. Braden Holtby made one fatal mistake on one of Detroit’s shots and that’s all she wrote for the Capitals. Andreas Athanasiou, scoring his first ever NHL goal, scored the only goal.
Over the years, the Caps have given up first NHL goals and first goals of the year to several guys. The game was uncomfortably reminiscent of the infamous playoff series against Montreal in 2010 where they were halaked, except for Petr Mrazek in goal instead of Jaroslav Halak, and the names nearly rhyme, too. In spite of outshooting Detroit in this game, Detroit had much better advanced Corsi and Fenwick statistics. The Caps’ first line had outstanding Corsi and Fenwick, the second line had decent stats, while the rest of the team had poor stats.
After the game in Detroit, the Capitals traveled to Philadelphia to play the Flyers on Thursday, November 12. The Flyers are an old, traditional rival of the Caps but one having a rough season this year (as in battling it out for 6th place with Carolina), on top of a bad season last year. After losing the game prior to playing the Caps, the Flyers held a post-game players’ only meeting. The Flyers opened with the first goal about 3 1/2 minutes into the game which was the sixth consecutive game where the Caps had surrendered the first goal. TJ Oshie, breaking a goal scoring drought, tied it up about half way through the first period.
The Caps had killed three straight penalties during that period. But the Flyers struck back early in the second period, cashing in on a power play that resulted from a carry-over penalty that Tom Wilson had earned during the first period. The Caps scored two goals during the middle of the period, one by Jason Chimera and the other by Justin Williams to tie up the game and then go ahead. The Jason Chimera goal was on a power play, as Trotz had added Chimera to the power play unit as he was a “big body who could get close to the net”. They added still another goal on by Jason Chimera on another power play with under 3 minutes to go in that period. Near the end of the period, it looked like the Caps had added still another goal, with Ovechkin finding the back of the net on a power play, which would have broken Sergei Fedorov’s record for goals scored by a Russian. However, the Flyers’ coach called for a “Coach’s Challenge” and the goal was overturned due to Justin Williams being off-sides. So still, no record for Ovi. The third period was scoreless except for Nicklas Backstrom adding a fifth goal for the Caps. The final score was 5-2 in favor of the Caps.
The Capitals returned home to Washington where they were scheduled to meet the Calgary Flames in Verizon Center the very next day – Friday November 13. Calgary had also played Thursday but in Tampa Bay. Like Philadelphia, the Flames have been having a rough season, being in or near the cellar of their division for most of the way. The defense had been playing poorly and the men playing goalie had an individual and collective Save Percentage of under .900. In fact, the scheduled goalie against the Caps, Kerri Ramo, had done so poorly the last two times the teams met, that he was sent to the minor leagues but now he was back. This game was scoreless during the first period. But, as has happened so often in recent games for the Caps, the opposition scored first. This time it was Michael Frolik of the Flames who scored about 7 ½ minutes into the second period. The Flames added another goal early in the third period by Sean Monahan. After that, Brandon Bollig of the Flames got into a fight with Tom Wilson, with both earning fighting majors but Bollig earning an extra penalty for roughing. The Caps did not score on the ensuing power play but soon afterwards, Michael Latta scored, breaking the shutout, earning his first goal of the season and his first goal during his term as a Cap.
Ten more minutes of game time action elapsed and Jay Beagle scored the equalizer. But neither team could score anymore during the third. So the score was deadlocked at two goals apiece and the teams headed into Overtime. Sean Monahan scored his second goal of the game with 1:40 into Overtime, earning a 3-2 win for Calgary and sending the fans home from Verizon, unhappy.
The report from the dressing room was that the Caps were not at all happy with that loss. While they were on a second game of back to back contests, so was the opposition. Moreover, the opposition has not been a very good team this year. It seems that the team was ineffective for the first two periods of action.
This week, the Caps continued their disturbing habit of giving up the first goal to the opposition, with that streak now up to seven games. They played two games on the road and one at home and ended up with one win, one regular loss, and one overtime loss, for a record of 1-1-1, which is technically .500, but feels more like a 1-2 week. Ovechkin had one more goal overturned, as a result of a Coach’s Challenge, for his second consecutive overturned goal. In summary, Ovi had placed 10 pucks into the net behind the goalie but only 80% of them have counted as goals. Wilson added to a trend of taking penalties, earning a charging minor against Philadelphia and a fighting major against Calgary.
Looking to the week ahead, the Caps travel against to Detroit, with a game against the Red Wings on Wednesday Nov 18. After that, they return home for a five game home stand, with games against Dallas on Thursday Nov 19 and Colorado on Saturday Nov 21. Additional games in the home stand are against Edmonton on Monday Nov 23, Winnipeg on Nov 25, and Tampa Bay on Nov 27.
By Diane Doyle