Saturday night’s Capitals victory had plenty of story lines, from Tomas Vokoun’s first-star performance to Swedes Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson scoring. Then there was the fact that uneven play made a win over a bad Ottawa team look difficult.
And yet, there’s more. So here are a few unanswered questions … answered after the 3-2 victory.
Why did Alex Ovechkin not start the first power play?
In the past it hasn’t been out of the ordinary for Ovechkin to play all two minutes of a power play, but in the first period Saturday he wasn’t out there at all when Backstrom scored with the man advantage.
Coach Bruce Boudreau explained that he felt the second power-play unit could get a chance after a long shift by Ovechkin before the penalty halted play.
“He had just come off the shift. We’ve got two good units,” Boudreau said. “He was just on the [ice] for 45 to 50 seconds.”
Actually, it was even longer than that: 1:17. And Backstrom came back after a 1:22 shift to score off a gorgeous feed from Alexander Semin. But it worked – the Caps’ first 5-on-4 goal of the season.
Will Matt Hendricks’ hit on Colin Greening draw a suspension?
The short answer is no. The long answer is no, but it very well could have if things had gone a bit differently. As seen in this very brief .gif video (h/t J.P. From Japers Rink), Hendricks hits the Senators forward with his shoulder, very clearly to the upper body. But it’s not a hit to the head.
The NHL has made it very clear, through Rule 48, that any hit to the head can be penalized. And supplemental discipline likely follows.
Hendricks hit Greening in the chest, but had the Ottawa player ducked his head, the play could have had a very different result.
What did Tomas Vokoun see on his final minutes save on Daniel Alfredsson?
Would it help to know the answer is, not much? Didn’t think so.
But Vokoun was in such a rhythm by that point, thanks in part to the Caps not dominating the play, that he could anticipate the play.
With just under two minutes left, Jason Spezza set up his captain right on the doorstep, but Vokoun kept it out as one of his 33 saves.
“I saw the pass coming across and I saw him coming to the net so I just kind of slid over. He one-timed it and I was fortunate enough to get a piece of it with my pad,” Vokoun said. “Sometimes when you feel good, you have that intuition that you know something’s going to happen before it happens. I didn’t really see him even shoot it it was so quick. I just made the right decision at the right time.”
Here’s video of the save: