Mr. Thomas Goes To Washington – Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made his second NHL start here in Washington back on Oct. 30, 2002. He probably saw the District as a kindler gentler place in those days, even though the Caps had weapons of mass destruction such as Peter Bondra and Jaromir Jagr.
Thomas bested the Caps 7-2 that night, and he’s mostly had his way here in the District since then. There is no white paint on the Caps’ F Street house, and except for one ugly blip one night in March a few years back, Thomas has always been comfortable here in the Phone Booth.
Thomas stonewalled Washington with a super performance on Sunday afternoon, stopping 35 of the 36 shots sent in his direction as Boston stopped the Caps by a 4-1 count.
Those weren’t shots from neutral ice or perimeter tosses, either. The Caps likely generated more quality scoring chances in Sunday’s game than they had in the three previous games combined.
“We got a lot of chances, but Thomas came up big,” laments Caps coach Dale Hunter. “He had a big game. A goalie like that can make a difference. [Today] especially in the first period they got a couple on us. He is a good goalie and he got the better of us tonight.”
With today’s win, Thomas is now 14-4-2 with a shutout, a 2.42 save pct. and a .926 save pct. in 21 career starts against the Caps. Washington has rained more than 30 shots on Thomas in 15 of those 21 starts. Thomas has limited the Caps to two or fewer goals in 14 of those 21 starts.
The Caps reached Thomas for seven goals on 24 shots in a 10-2 win over the Bruins back on March 3, 2008, but that’s been the exception rather than the rule when the Vermont U. product faces Washington.
Prior to that ugly outing nearly four years (or one presidential term) ago, Thomas started his career by going 8-0-1 with a 1.82 GAA and a .940 save pct. in his first nine career starts against the Caps.
Lifetime at Verizon Center, Thomas is now 7-2 with a 2.63 GAA and a .921 save pct. in 10 starts.
The only teams Thomas has defeated more frequently than Washington are Ottawa (22 times) and Toronto (18), teams that play in Boston’s division. He has started 32 games lifetime against Ottawa and 30 against the Maple Leafs.
“Tim’s capable of doing that for us,” says Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s done a lot of that in the past. I thought he was on top of his game today and certainly we needed our whole team to be on top of their game and they were.”
Seven/Seven – In his second game back from a three-game NHL suspension, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin looked much more comfortable on the ice this afternoon against the Bruins. He skated 22:49 for the game, the third-highest single-game ice time figure he has logged in his 49 games this season.
Ovechkin had seven shots on net and seven hits, pacing the Capital in both categories. He also had four shots blocked and missed the net twice.
Shooting Gallery – Washington fired 36 shots on goal, exceeding the 30-shot plateau for the first time in 23 games. The last time the Caps went as many consecutive games with 30 or fewer shots was the final 24 games of the 2003-04 season.
The Caps went 5-14-4-1 in those 24 games eight years ago. In their 22 straight games with 30 or fewer shots this season, the Caps managed a more respectable 12-7-3 record.
Washington outshot Boston 36-30 on the afternoon, marking the first time the Caps had outshot an opponent in 14 games, a span of more than a month. The last time Washington had more shots than its foe was when it outshot Calgary 21-19 in a 3-1 win on Jan. 3.
The Capitals are 12-6 when they outshoot the opposition this season and 15-15-4 when they are outshot.
Super Sunday – Washington is now 14-6-2 all-time on Super Bowl Sunday. The Caps are 14-5-1 in 20 home games played on Super Bowl Sunday.
Hot Stick – Caps center Mathieu Perreault assisted on the team’s lone tally of the afternoon, Marcus Johansson’s 11th goal of the season at 12:04 of the third period.
Perreault now has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last eight games.
Again With The Blocks – For the second straight game, Washington set a single-game high for blocked shots in a game. In Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Canadiens in Montreal, the Caps blocked a total of 27 shots. Today, they went one better and blocked 28.
Karl Alzner led the way with 11 blocked shots. Ten different players blocked shots for Washington on Sunday, and Caps blueliners were responsible for 23 of the 28 blocked shots.
Today’s game against Boston marks the 12th time that Washington has blocked 20 or more shots in its last 18 games and the 13th time in 30 games the Caps have blocked 20 or more pucks since Dale Hunter took over behind the bench on Nov. 28.
Washington had 20 or more blocked shots just once in Bruce Boudreau’s 22 games behind the bench at the start of the season.
Laich Lost? – With about eight minutes to go in the second period, Caps center Brooks Laich absorbed a Dennis Seidenburg check into the boards behind the Bruins’ net. He was clearly hobbled right away, and labored to get off the ice while clearly favoring his left leg.
He took a few careful twirls on the ice during television timeouts late in the second, but was not seen on the ice thereafter.
Already without top center Nicklas Backstrom for the last 14 games, the Caps can hardly afford to lose Laich for any length of time. Laich is a workhorse who plays on both special teams and came into Sunday’s game with an average of 19:13 per game in ice time, second among all Washington forwards to only Ovechkin (19:31).
The last time Laich missed any game action was during a four-game absence late in the 2009-10 season. He missed four consecutive contests from March 24-30, 2010 with a cheekbone injury, and those are the only games he has missed since the start of the 2007-08 season, a span of 380 games.
That March 2010 injury didn’t even happen in a game. A John Carlson slap shot clanged a crossbar at a Kettler practice session, then dented Laich’s cheekbone.
Laich will be reaxmined on Monday, and the Caps hope to know more about his condition and status then.
Busted Beak – Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov suffered a broken nose when he took a puck to the face early in Saturday’s game at Montreal. He got stitched up and returned to action later on.
Orlov’s proboscis absorbed another puck late in Sunday’s game against Boston. This time, he did not return.
Down On The Farm – After losses at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and at home against Connecticut on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the AHL Hershey Bears salvaged something from their weekend with a 4-3 shootout win over the Baby Pens at Giant Center on Sunday.
Sean Collins, Chris Bourque and newcomer Mike Carman supplied the Hershey offense while Braden Holtby made 24 saves to run his record to 16-11-4-1 on the season.
The 26-14-4-3 Bears are second in the AHL’s East Division, four points behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
By The Numbers – Dennis Wideman led the Caps with 24:24 in ice time … Washington won just 24 of 67 draws for a miserable 36% face-off success rate.