The Capitals and Boston Bruins battled in one of the best games of the season as Washington narrowly managed to edge out the Bruins for the 3-2 win on Wednesday.
Check out a recap of the game here.
Observations from the win
Hell of a game
This one lived up to the hype. A Tom Wilson-Zdeno Chara fight, a back and forth game, T.J. Oshie taking over, physical play, everything you could have wanted from a hockey game.
In hockey, we are rarely treated to the matchups we want to see in the playoffs, but I wouldn't mind this as an Eastern Conference Final.
Backstrom has to shoot on the power play
Since returning to the lineup from an eight-game absence due to injury, Nicklas Backstrom looks like he has not missed a beat. He set up John Carlson for the game-winner on Wednesday and looks as lethal as ever. If there is one aspect of his game he needs to improve on, however, he needs to shoot more on the power play.
Backstrom has a deceptively good shot which he does not use nearly enough. OK, so he likes to distribute the puck more. That's fine. But on the power play, Boston clearly did not respect Backstrom's shot. The penalty killers made it very clear they did not expect him to shoot at all.
This is the Bruins PK telling Backstrom that they do not think he is going to shoot. They were right. pic.twitter.com/ofOdIbHVec— JJ Regan (@JJReganNBCS) December 12, 2019
When they are giving you the room and the lane, you have to take it. It's not just about scoring, it is about forcing the penalty kill to account for the possibility that you may shoot.
Backstrom plays the half-wall on the power play on the right side. You know who's on the left? Alex Ovechkin. So if the penalty kill has to cheat over to account for Backstrom's shot, they are giving Ovechkin more space. If teams do not have to account for Backstrom, they won't and their penalty kill will be tougher to beat because of it.
The penalty kill was great
I know people are not happy about Carl Hagelin having no goals, but the Caps did not sign him for offensive production. The signed him for all the other things he brings to the table, especially the penalty kill.
Boston entered Wednesday's game with the sixth-best power play in the NHL. They had five opportunities against Washington and, after a successful offside challenge, did not score a single power play goal. Hagelin played a game-high 6:13 of shorthanded ice time.
The problem with players like Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky is that they did not contribute much if they were not producing offensively. The Caps needed different types of players who could still have an impact on a game even when they were not scoring. Hagelin had zero points on Wednesday but was absolutely one of the reasons Washington won.
Patrice Bergeron thought he had put the Bruins up 2-0 in the first period with a power play goal. Todd Reirden challenged the goal as offside, just the second time he has done so all season. A review of the goal showed that Jake DeBrusk had his back skate off the ice.
For some reason, this is the standard in which we want to hold players to on offside reviews. It doesn't make any sense at all why we would want to slow the game down and take goals off the board to analyze pixel by pixel if a player is offside even though if he was it had zero effect on the play, but I digress. The successful challenge took Bergeron's point off the board allowing T.J. Oshie the chance to take over the game in the second period.
As an aside, the offside video review is garbage and the league should get rid of it. But as long as it is still a thing, you better have a good video staff to make those calls. The Caps certainly do.
Play of the game
This will go down as one of the top plays of the season for the Caps. Oshie went outside, in on Connor Clifton, split the defense, got hooked and still roofed the puck with the backhand.
can't stop watching. pic.twitter.com/LkfeUeoLcP— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) December 12, 2019
Stat of the game
Hagelin is such a boost to the penalty kill.
In the 22 games with Carl Hagelin in the lineup, the Capitals have killed 69 of the 78 opportunities (88.5 percent).— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 12, 2019
Quote of the game
Oshie wanted to make sure everyone got their due after a big win.
"You are probably just going to talk to a couple of guys here, but a lot of guys had really good nights. A lot of guys did their job, whether it was on the PK, you know Holts, guys blocking shots, guys getting the puck in, making smart plays, the video guys in the backroom calling the offsides there on the no goal. We had everyone in tonight.”
Third line continues to progress and at least one of those 3 scores an even strength goal tonight.— Frank (@Cappie2020) December 12, 2019
Hagelin was good. Lars Eller was pretty quiet. Richard Panik...this was not a great game for Panik who played only 9:52 for the night and 54 seconds on the penalty kill.
Jensen scores on the rush and the Caps score on a penalty shot.— David Karn (@profdavek) December 11, 2019
Well, that was certainly bold.
Marchand spots the cow— 🏒 (@CapitalsHill) December 11, 2019
The cow was spotted. I'm not sure if Marchand was looking.
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