The Washington Capitals have to be very happy that they won’t be seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets and their rookie goalie Steve Mason for the rest of the season. Columbus and Mason beat the Caps, 3-0, in Columbus back on December 1st and tonight at the Verizon Center they dropped the Caps to 18-2-1 at home winning by an identical, 3-0, score. Mason stopped 45 Washington shots tonight and 71 total in the two game season series. He now has six shutouts this season.
It was a frustrating night for the Caps, who saw forwards Sergei Fedorov and Tomas Fleischmann return to the lineup, and their power play was a complete failure going 0 for 6 including 80 straight seconds of a five on three advantage where they only took one good shot.
Alexander Ovechkin had a staggering 12 shots on net and six others that were missed in 28:21 of ice time. He also dished out four hits and was called for a questionable charging call by Dan Marouelli in the first period. Marouelli has never been a very good referee, in my opinion, because if you watch his games some plays are called as infractions and others similar to it are let go. If I’m a player I have no idea what I can do or not do on the ice and he’s been that way as far back as I can remember (he was inconsistent in the 80’s too).
But the officiating didn’t come close to costing the Caps the game tonight, Mason was great and the Blue Jackets did a good job of not giving up rebounds or second chances and when they did the Caps either hit the post or a Columbus player managed to throw his body in front of a seemingly open net. Penalty killing was bad for the Caps tonight as well as they gave up two tallies and part of that could be attributed to the fact that Boyd Gordon, a penalty killing specialist, had his back lock up after the warm-ups and couldn’t play. You can expect Gordon to be out at least tomorrow in Montreal so look for at least one of the healthy scratches from tonight, Eric Fehr or Michael Nylander to play. Also, Jeff Schultz was bothered by a finger injury which forced the Caps to call up defensemen Tyler Sloan from Hershey for tonight’s game.
As far as the roster is concerned, Tom Poti was retroactively put on long term injury and he is eligible to come off of that on Wednesday meaning the Caps get some salary cap reprieve for a few more days. Once Poti is back then Washington would likely be in danger of going over the cap and GM George McPhee will have some tough decisions in front of him. I will continue my stance that defensemen Karl Alzner should not and will not be sent down to Hershey and someone will get traded. In addition, Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post is reporting in his blog Friday night that Sergei Fedorov is not making the trip to Montreal based on the fact that his equipment was still hanging in his stall in the Caps locker room. Tarik says it is likely a precautionary move.
The NHL All Star Team rosters saw only Ovechkin making it for the Caps and Nicklas Backstrom being named to play in the young stars game. I think it is a joke that Backstrom isn’t in the main game as well as defensemen Mike Green while Alzner should be in the young stars game but you want to know my real opinion on it? WHO CARES! The NHL All Star game is the WORST game of the season if you ask me because it isn’t real hockey. There is no checking and players don’t play defense. The game is stupid and if I’m McPhee and Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau I would look at the weekend as an opportunity for my players to get healthy and rest for a stretch drive that is WAY more important than a game that has been a horrible stage for hockey since at least the early 1980’s. If you like that game then you just don’t understand real hockey, the league should just get rid of it much like the NFL should get rid of the Pro Bowl, which is at least properly placed after the Super Bowl. By the way, depending on which team wins the Caps-Montreal game tomorrow night determines if either Boudreau or Habs Coach Guy Charbonneau will be the second assistant coach for the Eastern Conference in the All Star Game.