Today is trade deadline day and I feel it is my obligation to post some content. It wouldn’t be trade deadline day without some hockeybuzz.com reading. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. REPEAT! Here are my eight thoughts on the Caps since my last post before the Montreal game:
1. Recap: WSH 3, MTL 4 (OT) – The Caps needed yet another last-minute desperation 6 on 5 goal to earn a point in a game they didn’t deserve to get anything. The Capitals now have EIGHT 6 on 5 goals which leads the entire NHL. On the positive side, the team oddly looks very comfortable at 6 on 5 and are consistently able to generate high danger scoring chances. On the negative side, the Capitals are always having to claw back from behind in games. Its not exactly the recipe for playoff success.
2. Recap: WSH 2, NJD 3 – The Capitals failed to earn any points against a team that is in a complete rebuild mode. After selling off a couple of their larger assets in Coleman and Greene, the Devils still looked like the better team for a majority of the game. The Capitals failed to convert on two late power play opportunities in the third period. They then followed it up by taking two absolutely dumb penalties which ultimately led to a Devils PP goal. The Michael Kempy penalty may have been the worst penalty of the season. What an absolute bone-head move punching and cross-checking Palmieri right in front of the ref when you are already down on the penalty kill! On the positive side, Ovi scored #700! More on that in a bit
3. Recap: WSH 5, PIT 3 –This was the biggest game of the Caps season to date. No Joke. The Caps had gone 11-13-1 Since December 23rd and their healthy 13-point Metro Lead completely evaporated into thin air. While the Caps were for the most part outplayed in this game, they were able to put together a complete(ish) effort against the rival Penguins. This game had a playoff energy. Both teams traded high quality chances all game. The Capitals played a very strong third period and were able to get the bounces and secure the win. Cheers to former Cap Killer, Carl Hagelin, on playing his best game of the season against his former team. I am hoping this win can give the boys much needed confidence moving forward.
4. Trade Acquisition Brendan Dillon – Dillon has been a reasonable pickup. He debuted with a "minus three" against Montreal but not all the goals against were his fault. I like his physical presence, as displayed by the little scrum him and Malkin got into yesterday. That fired up the home crowd big time. The Pens game was Dillon’s best so far and I can only assume he will continue to get more comfortable. I grade this trade a “B-“ because it addressed our weakness at defense but it also did not address our weakness on right defense. People keep saying Orlov looks comfortable on right D but when you watch him play, does he? No.
5. Trade Aquistion Ilya Kovalchuk – The Caps sent a 2020 third rounder for Kovalkchuk and only have to retain 78k of his $350k salary. Seems like a bargain. I don’t know exactly where he slots in but if I had to guess, they are going to move Panik to the 4th line and slot Kovalchuck in there with Hagelin and Lars Eller. Too early to tell but the big picture is that the Capitals have struggled to generate a lot of high danger chances lately and this is simply a move to hopefully give a boost to the offense. I grade this Trade an “B+”. The Caps really didn’t have to sacrifice a lot here. Low risk, high reward.
6. Ovi Scores Goal #700 – IT IS ABOUT TIME! It is a shame the milestone was overshadowed by another loss to a lesser team but this is truly an incredible accomplishment. We may never see another 700-goal scorer in our lifetime so they say. People are starting to have the “Will he catch Gretzky?” conversation. My answer to this question is YES YES YES YES! Do you think Ovi is going to go gentle into the good night of retirement? Heck no. He is going to rage rage rage until he gets that record. Does anyone actually see him retiring when he is less than 100 goals away? Absolutely not. He has vocalized he wants it, his teammates want him to get it, his parents want him to get it…c’mon meow! Ovi will play for as long as he needs to get the record (mic drop).
7. Braden Holtby – Braden has been quite stellar lately. After struggling big time during long stretches this season. Holtby seems to be finding his game. You can only stop so many 2 on 1’s and breakaways. He has a .898 SV% and a 3.21 GAA average for February. Numbers don’t look great on paper but it doesn’t tell the entire story. If the defense wasn’t so crappy at times, he would likely be sporting a more competitive stat line. Keep up the great work, Holtby!
8. Power Play – The Capitals continue to struggle on the PP. Since January 1st, they are 20th in the league at 18.9%. There has been a slightly improvement over the past few weeks and they are 10th in the league since February 10th at 22.7%. I believe part of the problem was force feeding Ovechkin to help him chase the 700-goal mark. Lets hope the team is more collective in their effort moving forward now that Ovi hit 700.
Anything else glaring I missed? Go Caps! Also, there have been like a zillion trades since I started writing this morning. LOTTA ACTION IN THE METRO! Happy Trade Deadline Day.
As always, thanks for reading!