Brooks Orpik is back, and right on time, too — the Washington Capitals lost three of their four games this past week. The Curse Himself has had little impact beyond puzzling plays (usual), penalty minutes (expected), and general invisibility (par for the course), but we may see Siegenthaler returned from the Shadow Realm sooner than later. We are crossing all our crossables going into Week Fifteen — maybe the league known for needlessly sacrificing the careers of youngsters to prop up declining senior citizens will surprise us for once.
A lot of people like to claim the number thirteen is unlucky. There’s even a name for being afraid of the number thirteen: triskadekaphobia. But the Capitals, who went 2-0 this week, proved those people wrong. Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but for others– oh, what’s that? Brooks Orpik is coming back?
I guess it’s time to be afraid of fourteen now instead.
To all those celebrating Christmas, Happy and/or Merry Christmas. To the rest of us, happy Cookie Season. Everything’s going to be on sale on December 26th and you know what? We’re going to be ready. The Capitals did admirably this week, even with the prospect of a few days off as a light at the end of the tunnel, coming out of a three game stretch with two wins, leaving them with nearly identical home and away records. The depth stole the show, with goals by Eller, Connolly, and Stephenson, and the shutout win against Ottawa was the perfect present to all Capitals fans.
The road to hit ten home and ten away wins was a hard one for the Capitals, but thirty-two games in, they’ve taken both milestones, thanks to an impressive three win week against Detroit, Carolina, and Buffalo.
With the week before the National Hockey League’s holiday break looming before them, it remains to be seen how many more wins they can add to their impressive total of twenty, which has them in the top six league wide, behind only Tampa Bay (25), Nashville (22), Winnipeg (21), Toronto (21), and Calgary (21).
With a fourth line that’s had an incredible December, the addition of T.J. Oshie to the electric combination of Ovechkin and Backstrom on the top line, and Siegenthaler and Bowey combining for a third pair experience no one could have expected, could the Capitals go 3-0 two weeks in a row?
Jakub Vrana has four points (2G/2A) this week after being held scoreless for three games straight to close out the month of November.
Vrana is four goals away from matching his career high of thirteen (2017-18) and five assists from his career high of fourteen assists (also during 2017-18). With nine more points this season, Vrana will also match his career high, all of which look easily within reach. He’s been a monster at even strength, with every one of his goals and all but one of his assists coming at even strength, and while his shooting percentage is hovering around 17%, he’s making the most of good linemates and scoring opportunities.
This increase in offense coming despite a two minute increase in average ice time for game means that Vrana, despite some minor slips here and there, is adjusting nicely to a scoring role on the Capitals. As his ELC (expiring in July 2019) comes to a close, making gains on career highs across the board is a very good sign for Vrana’s future earning opportunities and could secure himself a spot on the Capitals well past the Seattle Expansion Draft.
Nicklas Backstrom (who has more points and assists than Sidney Crosby) has cracked the top ten of league wide point scoring while Alex Ovechkin waits just outside, and as the All-Star Game approaches (in San Jose, no less!), Capitals fans are joyfully reckoning with the fact that we may see both selected this year. The foundation for a Nicklas Backstrom, Metropolitan Division Captain campaign is already being laid on Twitter.
The real question: will you honor the Goblin King’s claim to the throne or face his fury?
The Capitals are on a five game winning streak, earning them first place in the extremely competitive Metropolitan Division, a coveted spot as the halfway mark of the season approaches — game forty-one will be played on the sixth of January in Detroit, and as November comes to a close, 2019 looks a lot closer than it has before. Thankfully, with Game 23 in the books, there are seventeen more games to play before the 2018-19 season is halfway over. Those of us in the States had plenty to give thanks for this long weekend, and those of us who aren’t got the fifth win in a steak the Capitals have kept alive since their game in Colorado on the sixteenth, the first winning (or losing) streak longer than two games that the Capitals have had all season.