By James A. Lyons
By arming the rebels, we're aiding al Qaeda
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Joel Ward, Game 5 and the New York Rangers. That combination, before Friday night, was synonymous with missed opportunity and disappointment for the Washington Capitals. This year’s script was different, though. Friday night’s had a happy ending. As Ward glided toward his teammates to celebrate the Caps’ 2-1 overtime victory at Verizon Center, he was redeemed.
Martin Erat won't be in the Washington Capitals' lineup for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Friday night against the New York Rangers after suffering an apparent left wrist or forearm injury in Game 4.
A couple of weeks ago, Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy had a fresh set of stitches in his lower lip. They're gone now. Taking their place are a couple of scrapes that will probably be followed by a bruise on his right cheek. That's what happens when you take a puck to the face from close range.
The power play did yield a goal by Alex Ovechkin that tied the score in the second period, but it was a gritty penalty kill that turned things around and gave the Caps the series lead over the Rangers.
All Thursday night Washington Capitals players exchanged words and shoves with Ottawa Senators agitator Chris Neil, who got under their skin during a 2-1 overtime loss to the Senators.
In 16 games since Johansson began skating with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin going into Thursday night at the Ottawa Senators, the 22-year-old Swede had four goals and 12 assists.
There is more to the Capitals' win streak than the play of those expected to play at such a high level. Steve Oleksy's play on defense, Jack Hillen's solid defense as well as his scoring surge, Jason Chimera showing he still has "it" – pretty much the entire roster is playing at a high level.
Jay McClement shoved Nicklas Backstrom's head into the boards, and Alex Ovechkin came to his teammate's aid. Washington Capitals fans roared at the replay, and it didn't even matter that the captain took a penalty by jumping the Toronto Maple Leafs forward. From that moment on, the Caps dominated the Maple Leafs on the way to a 5-1 rout, their eighth straight victory.
The Caps have won 11 of their past 13 games, a stretch that turned up the likelihood of playoff hockey in the District this spring. But the final six games are all against teams in the hunt, including five vs. those in playoff position.
The Washington Capitals were not happy, even though they left Verizon Center on Saturday night with their seventh straight victory and two valuable points. What they did in blowing a lead to the Tampa Bay Lightning was much more of a concern in the aftermath of a 6-5 overtime win than snatching this one back after a four-goal lead evaporated.
George McPhee is either a genius who has been able to oversell or a schlub who got taken in a moment of delusion and mad desire to finally see his team make a real, live run at the Stanley Cup. We may know the answer in a couple of weeks. We may not know for a few years.
Eric Fehr didn't even want to reveal the poorly kept secret Thursday morning that he'll be back in the Washington Capitals' lineup against the New York Islanders. But Fehr is set to make his return from a four-game absence on the same night Martin Erat will make his Caps debut following a trade from the Nashville Predators.
When Troy Brouwer, Mathieu Perreault, Jack Hillen and John Carlson celebrated, it was like the Caps had won a playoff game, and Cheshire Cat smiles on the bench greeted Chimera on his way back.
Alex Ovechkin knew the situation. The captain saw the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets were losing and realized the opportunity the Washington Capitals had in front of them Sunday night.
Ten points back of the Carolina Hurricanes after Tuesday night's shutout loss, the Caps are perilously close to falling out of the race altogether as the two teams meet again Thursday.
"He's a good story," Chimera said. "He's a very humble kid, which is nice. Good things happen to good people, which he is. It couldn't happen to a better guy."
Chimera said it's better to be considered one of those players than the other way around: a guy who “disappears in the playoffs.” He's the opposite of that, and the Caps had him to thank for an insurance goal that made the third period less stressful.