Last Wednesday, the Washington Capitals started their new regular season and ‘party’ was the keyword. After the happiest summer ever in the District for Caps fans, the very same fans had an increadible party during the Banner Night. And the party continued on the ice, with a great 7-0 victory over the Bruins.
Six different Caps scored: T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov (2), Alex Ovechkin, Nic Dowd, defenseman John Carlson and Lars Eller. With three assists, Nicklas Backstrom reached the 800 points milestone and now he’s on his way to the 600 assists, currently with 594.
Even without Tom Wilson, suspended for 20 games due to a check to the head in Oskar Sundqvist of St. Louis Blues, the games between Caps and Bruins are becoming physical in an NHL-era that is prioritizing more attributes like speed and skills. Madison Bowey and Sean Kuraly dropped their gloves, confirming the physicality tone of a possible new rivalry arising.
As a team, the Capitals managed to capitalize four of six Power Play opportunities and just commited two penalties, managing to kill both. The great performance of the team contributed to Braden Holtby’s shutout. The only problem was the faceoff percentage; Boston won 68% of them, while the Capitals kept with the 32% remaining.
However, with a stronger team like the Penguins, their archrival, the bitter taste of elimination in Pittsburgh’s memory made the next game an extra factor for a tougher one for the Caps. Unlike the previous game against the Bruins, in the first duel against the Penguins after the Game 6 victory that led the Caps to the Eastern Conference Final, the Capitals couldn’t capitalize their few two opportunities and couldn’t kill two of six, including the OT one that gave Pittsburgh the victory by 7-6. A good point was the improved faceoff percentage compared to the previus game, with 47%.
The Penalty Kill unit misses Jay Beagle, an importance piece of that office and a topic that must be worked out by head coach Todd Reirden. An undrafted player, Jay Beagle became the first player to win the following three trophies:
- Kelly Cup: Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), 2007;
- Calder Trophy: Hershey Bears (AHL), 2009 and 2010;
- Stanley Cup: Washington Capitals (NHL), 2018.
A good cost-benefit player, Beagle will be missed by the Caps roster for his 4th-line leadership and as a Penalty Killer, signed a four-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, earning $3 million annually. But then there is Nic Dowd…
After two games, the Capitals have shown that they will be a competitive team this season and last Thursday’s game was a prelude to another possible Capitals-Penguins playoff matchup for one of the greatest rivalries in NHL. They are just getting started!!!