Capitals Shock Senators at Home, Win 4-1

Travis LoftisCorrespondent INovember 9, 2007

Icon Sports MediaWhat makes hockey greater than any other sport is that nothing is a given. 

People can argue that point. But I'll make the argument that any basketball fan can name 12 teams that this year will go to the playoffs, baseball fans know the AL East is going to the Red Sox or Yankees, and in football, you can typically tell how things are gonna shake down.

As for hockey? Take Thursday's Sens-Caps game as a case in point.

The Senators, at 13-1-0 and on an 8 game winning streak, came out, and just looked flat against a hard-working Washington Capitals team.  From the second period on, the Capitals were in complete control.  Viktor Kozlov finally did what he was signed to do—play as a dominant power forward.  No one on the defense could stop him, as he netted one, and got two helpers.  Nicklas Backstrom finally got his first tally, and Tomas Fleischmann managed to step it up.

The Caps played so well that Ovechkin's goal to ice the game could easily be forgotten, even though it was a great two-on-one decision. 

It is ironic that it almost looked like Backstrom's first goal was scored by Michael Nylander.  Nylander has stood up and taken Nicklas under his wing, and the results are showing.  Backstrom has a goal and seven assists, while mostly playing with Nylander and a non-scorer while Semin is recuperating.

Speaking of injuries, depending on the length of time Volchenkov is out, the Sens could run into a few problems.  There's no doubt they have the depth to handle this injury, but Volchenkov is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL today. 

Certainly, had the Caps lost this game, it would have been the same old story of too many penalties.  But that's no surprise.  Penalties are part of the Capitals game plan.  

They outwork the other team, in nearly every game.  Washington consistently plays hard-nosed, fast, high octane hockey.  There is no trap; the system relies on good fore checking and back checking.  This system though can leave players out of position, and if lazy, these players can take stupid looking penalties.  This isn't the best situation, but when the Capitals maintain this game plan over three periods, they win games.

Recently, the Capitals have either not come out and played three periods, struggled with lazy play leading to too many PKs, or just flat out didn't get the bounces the other team did.  If the Caps hadn't run into hot goalies or hit bad bounces, it's not inconceivable they couldn't be 14-2-0, but that's hockey, and that's what makes it so awesome.

Besides, if the Caps were 14-2-0, people might have expected this to happen.  And then, hockey wouldn't be what it was.