Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Credit where credit is due

With the offensive explosion last night, most of the credit is (justifiably) being heaped upon Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. That's all well and good, but Ovechkin's magical first period performance was made possible by a much less glamorous player: Donald Brashear. Though his first period efforts only produced PIMs on the scoresheet, Brashear's tussle with Zdeno Chara set the stage for the Caps offensive eruption.

Why, you ask? It's simple. For years now Zdeno Chara has been one of the few players in the NHL capable of shutting down Alex Ovechkin. And when Chara dropped the gloves with the Donald, it guaranteed that he would be off the ice for five full minutes (as would Brashear). That's a tradeoff Coach Boudreau would take every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

When Chara heard the penalty box doors slam shut, the score was 2-0. By the time it opened again, the score was 4-0 and the Caps were off and running. Indeed, Big Zeke was so frustrated that he promptly took a minor penalty trying to goad Matt Bradley into fistacuffs moments later. Way to pick on someone your own size, big man. Bradley did the smart thing (in more ways than one) by keeping his gloves on and his nose clean, and the Caps promptly scored again on the ensuing power play. None of this would have occurred without Brashear's fearlessness and, just as importantly, the intelligence to see that Chara was agitated and would drop the gloves if goaded.

Naturally, Brash's smart play was rewarded with more ice time (the fact that the Caps were up by a handful of goals probably didn't hurt, either) and a goal late in the second. A job well done by a man whose hockey intelligence is often underrated.

Game highlights (sans fistacuffs) can be found below for your viewing pleasure:


Biff said...

I'm a little mad noone seems to be mentioning that Brash's goal was his 200th career point. Granted, 200 pts in over 900 games isn't exactly a blistering pace, but can we give him a little credit for reaching a milestone?

Grod said...

And at a really tight angle.

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