Cover The Puck - Washington Capitals Hockey Blog

This game had about as many faces as the Batman series has villains. It began with Philadelphia controlling the game with a 7-1 edge in shots with just 3 minutes to go in the first period. That's when defenseman Nate Schmidt pinched twice to keep the puck in the offensive zone leading directly to a Nicklas Backstrom goal on just the Capitals' 2nd shot of the game. It would be the game-winner in a fight that included a lot of game game that included a lot of fights.

While this game turned out to be a wild penalty-filled affair that featured Braden Holtby getting pummeled by Ray Emery in one of four separate fights at the 5:31 mark of the third period. While we can watch this craziness over and over, it's more important to explore how the Capitals were able to turn the game's tide and make this a one-sided affair that left Philadelphia's fans booing all night until the brawl.

Washington's Defense Pinch Successfully

The first 17 minutes of this game appeared to be yet another first period shellacking for the ridiculously slow-starting Capitals. Throughout the first period, the Capitals defense couldn't keep the puck in the Flyers zone. Then it took one pinch and a lucky keep at the blue line by Schmidt to turn this game completely around.

After Schmidt poked the puck up to Backstrom for the game's first goal, Washington's defense began forcing the play along the boards. As the Caps sustained pressure in the Flyers end, the team from the 'City of Brotherly Love' — I'll never understand how they got that moniker — grew tired chasing the puck around their end. This opened the play up along the blue line and we saw some solid D-to-D passing that expanded the offensive zone and created scoring chances and goals.

Capitals Offense Finds the Back of the Net

Joel Ward benefited the most as he scored his first career hat trick while Backstrom double his season total of goals to four while playing without Alex Ovechkin.

If Backstrom can continue netting the puck with wristers from the circles, the Capitals could be in business once Ovechkin returns. The line was at its best when Backstrom scored 33 goals, but his goal scoring has steadily decreased from 33 to 18 to 14 to 8 over the past few seasons. Before tonight, there was no reason to believe that would change.

Jason Chimera led the Capitals with 4 points including a goal that set a new career high with 4 straight games with a tally. Mikhail Grabovski joined Chimera with 3 assists while Martin Erat and Eric Fehr each had 2 joining Backstrom to form the Capitals' top line in Ovechkin's absence. The only forwards without a point in this chaotic affair were Brooks Laich, Aaron Volpatti, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, and Marcus Johansson.

Holtby Gets His Shutout...Finally

Braden Holtby did everything with his catching glove on last night. He stopped all 30 shots he faced and tried to fight bare-fisted Ray Emery with it on two. He was less successful with the latter. With a welt growing under his mask, Holtby recorded his first regular season shutout since March 2013, a career-long stretch of 27 games.

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Brian Kotler
The Face Behind The Website

Brian Kotler of Cover The Puck

Plenty of people are writing about the Capitals these days, but not many are 'talking' or 'analyzing' the on-ice action. Statistics can only reveal so much. I've noticed that I'm always stopping the DVR and drawing on the TV screen with my fingertip showing my kids who should have been where and what could or should have happened.

So I decided to get some video software to do the same thing for you guys right here on this website. Problem is, combining and learning a lot of modern technology on the fly takes time. Mastering video and commentary to go along with the writing some have said I do quite well will take time. Just like a promising rookie, it will be fun watching the evolution.

A picture is worth a thousand words and a video can be worth a million. I'm here to condense those million words into 3-9 minute videos.