It is a week of exorcising demons.
It feels good. Great. Fantastic. Like an enormous weight has been lifted.
It wasn't a pretty game to say the least, but that tells you that the Caps played a perfect road game. They jumped on mistakes, got odd-man rushes, clogged up the neutral zone and shut it down in net. It may not have been necessarily enjoyable to watch and you certainly never felt completely comfortable, but in the end it served it's purpose.
At one end of the ice, we had Olie Kolzig - the elder statesman of the team, the much-maligned goalie who was unfairly pinned as the scapegoat for the loss last weekend, the man fighting for his job with fresh blood being brought in just a week ago. Fans around here seem to have written him off, dismissing him as nothing more than a has-been (and conveniently forgetting his 22 wins).
Has he lost a step or two? Yes. Is he the goalie he once was? No. Can he still come in and play a dominant game?
25 of 26 shots turned away say yes, he can.
He was everything they needed him to be and sometimes more, making the routine saves and occasionally the saves of the more sparkling variety. He corraled the rebounds that his defense did not and even made a great save on Milan Jurcina - probably the best save of the night.
And at the other end of the ice...Ovechkin Ovechkin Ovechkin. It seems this whole practice of booing him just pumps him up more, because he scored two goals and was a huge factor in the third one, the eventual game-winner. They gave him chances and space and he took advantage of both, and then he used his body (in a perfectly legal check, by the way, watch the clip) to give Backstrom and Kozlov room to maneuver.
The shiny, pretty, puck possession game of two nights ago was gone, replaced with the grittier visage of a road team desperate for points. There were few glaring mistakes, few costly blunders, and just the one power play goal through a crowd that beat Zilla.
Speaking of power plays - one call. One. With eighteen seconds remaining. Thanks, refs, that was...not helpful at all.
In the end it doesn't matter, though. A win is a win is a win, and the Caps creep closer to 8th place now to sit two points back of Philadelphia and three points back of Carolina for the division lead (Atlanta is useless...for a change). Two days off and we're back in action once more, facing the almost certainly bitter Bruins for a Saturday matinee in Beantown.
And in case you've been under a rock lately and missed the hype machine starting up again, Sunday brings a pack of mullets to the Phone Booth. Can't wait to greet them.