For the better part of the first quarter of the 2010-11 NHL season, I have stayed away from blogging about my beloved Washington Capitals. Not because I love them any less then I did last year, but because when the Ravens are right in the middle of the AFC playoff hunt in late November, it’s awfully hard to focus day in and day out on a team that will be playing into June (or at least I hope so).
But with the Capitals hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Friday matinee, and still trying to digest the 7 pounds of turkey I ate on Thursday, my 10 year old and I tuned in. What made this game better was that my dad was texting me from his comfortable recliner in the living room of his Ocean City home. Yes, when you’re 63 and worked your ass off your whole life, you get to spend Thanksgiving “down the ocean.” And watching the Caps game.
And what we watched was defenseman John Carlson, who is on my fantasy hockey team by the way, open the scoring for the Caps just over three minutes into the game. And to be honest, the game was over at that point. In the same fashion as Joe Flacco’s TD pass to T.J. Houshmanzadeh at the beginning of the Ravens-Panthers game, Carlson’s strike in the first period was all the Caps would need. But it wasn’t all they would get.
My son’s favorite Cap, Alexander Semin scored a natural hat trick in the second period, following John Erskine’s fourth minute goal, his third hatter of the season. On a side note, John Erskine is quickly becoming one of my new favorite Capitals, especially after he beat the hell out of Ryan Malone in the third period. In my opinion, Erskine’s Capital’s career got off to a slow start, but he has since turned it around and become a great all around player for Washington.
Tom Poti finished the scoring in the third period, and Semyon Varlamov registered his first shutout of the season, as he fought his way back from a groin injury to save 17 shots. In the process, the Caps held the NHL’s leading scorer, Steven Stamkos, in check in what was, in my opinion, their best defensive effort of the season. Tampa Bay came into the Verizon Center as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and entered play just 4 points behind the Capitals in the Southeast Division. The win gives the Caps a six-point cushion in the division, and a one point lead over the stinking Philthadelphia Flyers for the overall conference, and for that matter, lead in the NHL.
It was a nice post-Thanksgiving treat to enjoy a much needed, resounding Capitals victory with my father and my son. What made it even better was that my son’s “main man” as he calls him, lead the charge with his second period hat trick.
The Caps needed it, and Semin delivered.