The Great 8 of the Washington Capitals is 0-for-8. As in no goals in eight games. And this is a good thing? Yup.
Washington continues to roll over its opponents with a startling array of offensive weapons. Nothing new there, but it is new that Alex Ovechkin isn't the one lighting the lamp.
Not that Ovie isn't contributing. In St. Louis Wednesday night, he was very visible. A couple of big hits, a couple of great plays including the empty-net assist. Big play on an empty-net assist? You betcha. I am sure no one is more aware of his goal drought than Ovechkin but as he crossed the blue-line and danced around a defender, the big guy spotted Nicklas Backstrom streaking to the net. He feathered a pass to his centre, who happily tapped it in. Nice!
It's a great sign for the Caps who have seemed more interested in playing keep away than hockey. And Ovie's unselfishness is not the only one.
Alex Semin is on fire. Backstrom is keeping pace. But more importantly, Semyon Varlamov is beginning to play like an upper-echelon goaltender. Maybe 37 saves is probably a few too many to make as he did against the Blues, but make them he did. And with that the Caps won their fourth straight.
McPhee's about face
The best sign of all? General manager George McPhee's acquisition of Scott Hannan. Hannan's arrival in and of itself is nothing to get too wild about. Many of my colleagues would argue that he has lost too much foot speed to be very effective. However, it is the whole notion that the organization recognizes the value of a steady, depth defenceman.
In an about face, McPhee even admitted that the Caps had focused too much on the offensive side of the equation last year. Hallelujah, brother, and pass the mustard! Refreshing public admission that his team needs to focus a little on the back end.
Unselfish team play. A captain leading by example. A goaltender emerging. Organizational self-criticism that is spot on. Gotta like the trend if you like the Caps and you have to be concerned if you're not.
For my money, the only thing standing in the way of a deep playoff run is the Capitals' own attitude to the game and that seems to be going in the right direction, too.
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