Thoughts and observations from the Capitals’ season-opening loss to the Blackhawks

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“Power play works well, but I think our line have to create more chances out there, especially in the neutral zone because the skills we have, we have to make decisions better,” Ovechkin said.

Oveckin’s goal and assist occurred on the power play, an auspicious sign for the Capitals. They generally don’t win if he’s not scoring on the power play.

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Grabovski’s hat trick in his Capitals debut featured two deflected goals and a gorgeous wrist shot on a two-on-one. Grabovski, generously listed at 5-11, is not a particularly imposing presence in front of the goal, but his positioning and timing were superb in redirecting a pair of shots by defenseman Mike Green on the power play.

“So many teams try to take Ovi away, and the league nowadays crams it back toward the goalie because the goaltending is so much better, so we have to find other ways to score, and that’s one way,” Oates said.

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Defenseman Connor Carrick negatively impacted the outcome of his NHL debut. Brandon Saad tied the game 4-4 in the third period after Carrick turned the puck over in the offensive zone. Then Carrick glided back into the defensive zone as Saad drove in front of him to the net and got on the end of Michal Handzus’ pass.

On the Blackhawks’ first goal, Bollig beat Carrick on the forecheck, which freed Bollig to position himself away from Carrick and clean up a rebound.

Oates took it easy on Carrick in his postgame comments to reporters.

“When there is a goal against, everybody contributes in some way that maybe we can do something better,” Oates said. “I thought at times he played good. We’ll just work on it, like always.”

Oates actually spoke kindly of all three rookies — Carrick, Tom Wilson and Michael Latta: “Fine, yeah fine. Tough environment, first game, this building, Cup champs, kind of overwhelming. I thought they did good.”

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The Blackhawks’ pre-game Stanley Cup banner ceremony was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen live in sports. The video montages, the youth hockey players handing over the banner to the team, the light show, the photo projections onto the ice. It was all top notch. Here’s hoping every fan out there gets to one day experience the elation Blackhawks fans savored before Tuesday’s game.

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