For the second time in three games, the Caps were without Alex Ovechkin because of an ejection (though the right knee injury might have kept him out as well), but they were able to secure a victory thanks in no small part to great efforts from Jose Theodore, Nicklas Backstrom and Eric Fehr.
As for Ovechkin, there was no further update on his status after the game. Bruce Boudreau said he was “stiff” but GM George McPhee said there won’t be an MRI or an x-ray until after the team’s medical staff checks him out tomorrow.
Boudreau also said he didn’t feel that Ovechkin deserved to be ejected for the hit on Tim Gleason, who returned to the game before Ovechkin’s five-minute major had expired. The Caps coach said it would have only been a two-minute penalty if Gleason hadn’t been on the ice in pain after the hit.
As for the other guys …
* Theodore was fantastic, making 38 saves and putting on a highlight-reel show. Can’t say it was his best effort as a Capital — that game against Philly earlier this year might have been better especially considering the quality of competition — but he was incredible. This could have been ugly early but he kept the Caps in it.
* That said, this wasn’t a great defensive effort by the Caps. A team as bad as the Hurricanes (and not to pile on, but Carolina is TERRIBLE) should not be getting so many prime chances against the Caps. If the opponent was better, this might have been a 4-3 loss and we still would be praising Theodore for about a half-dozen ten-bell saves.
* Nicklas Backstrom finally, finally had the “Ovechkin isn’t here, so I’m taking over” performance everyone has been waiting on. He was great, and a deserving No. 1 star if not for Theodore’s sumblime work. Two goals and an assist, and could have maybe had even more. More of that and the Caps might be alright even if Ovechkin does miss a few games.
* Eric Fehr just keeps going. Not much else to say — he’s finally getting real playing time with top-six caliber linemates and he’s got 10 points in 11 games.
* Tomas Fleischmann was on fire, but he’s cooled off. He hit the side of the net on a one-timer, but he’s got zero goals and two assists in the past seven games.
Finally, how’s this for a comparison:
Player A has 16 GP, 7 goals and 11 points. Player B has 15 GP, 7 goals and 12 points. Player A is Fehr and Player B is Fleischmann, but here’s the kicker — Fleischmann is averaging 17:33 of ice time per game, while Fehr is getting is 11:59. Now, 1:10 of that difference is PK time, but Flash is also getting an extra 1:26 a night on the PP as well.