Wednesday’s season opener was always going to be a special night.
As the Capitals raised the Stanley Cup Banner to the rafters, the game that was to follow felt largely secondary to the pregame ceremony.
But the Caps were all business when the puck dropped as they obliterated the Boston Bruins in a 7-0 romp which brought plenty of “back to back” chants from the Caps faithful.
Here’s how they won.
1. An Emotional Start
In the last ten years, only two defending champions have won on their opening night after raising their Cup banner. After watching the entire ceremony, it would be understandable if the Caps were distracted at the start of the game.
Instead, it seemed to have the opposite effect. The Capitals came out swinging as T.J. Oshie scored a one-timer from Alex Ovechkin’s office just 24 seconds into the game. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Oshie’s goal was the second-fastest goal from the start of a season-opener. Ryan Walter scored a goal just 12 seconds in to start of the 1981-82 season.
Just over a minute later, Tuukka Rask failed to corral a bouncing puck off the face-off and Evgeny Kuznetsov skated around him for the easy put in.
Less than two minutes into the game, Washington was up 2-0.
Also from Elias, this was the second-fastest two-goal start to a season by an NHL team, second to the Los Angeles Kings who scored twice 1:34 into the season in 2005.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the Caps this season was if they would suffer a Stanley Cup hangover, but they were certainly ready for the start of this one.
2. A Rough Night for Rask
The Capitals played exceptionally well for 60 minutes, but they were aided by a lackluster performance from Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Both of the Caps’ early goals were softies that Rask should have been able to stop. Of the five goals he allowed three were not the type of goals you typically see an NHL starting netminder give up.
Rask was pulled after the fifth goal with only 14 saves on 19 shots.
3. Special Teams
While Rask’s rough night certainly helped, the Caps were deadly on the power play with four goals on six opportunities.
Alex Ovechkin scored a one-timer in typical fashion from just outside the office. As we saw last year, there was also plenty of movement between Ovechkin and John Carlson who switched places on the point. That led to a goal for Carlson as Ovechkin faked a shot to draw the defense out of position, then passed to Carlson in the office who fired a one-timer of his own into the back of the net.
The new aggressive penalty kill was also on display. Kuznetsov did indeed play on the penalty kill as expected. Washington did generate multiple opportunities shorthanded giving future opponents something to think about when they get the man advantage.
Most importantly, the penalty kill was a perfect two for two on the night killing off Boston’s power plays.
4. Star Power
The Caps stars came to play as Nicklas Backstrom tallied three helpers including his 800th career point, Ovechkin, Carlson, and Oshie all scored a goal and an assist and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice to lead the offensive eruption on Wednesday.
Braden Holtby was not tested all that much, but he was strong in net when it mattered as he turned aside all 25 shots he faced for his 33rd career shutout.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: