No, it’s not just you; the Washington Capitals really are accomplishing special things.
In some ways, Washington’s 3-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes was run-of-the-mill.
Braden Holtby padded his Vezina Trophy resume (yawn). The Capitals won their fourth game in a row (yawn). Alex Ovechkin continued to do awesome things (tries to force a yawn).
All joking aside, this consistent excellence is exciting, though, of course.
While every other division is in play, the Capitals’ Metropolitan Division peers are fading from their rear-view mirrors. Even the Chicago Blackhawks lag behind Washington at second place, as the Capitals’ 92 standings points leave them 11 points ahead of the defending champions.
In fact, this 44-10-4 start is the stuff of (admittedly rather specific) NHL history:
Ovechkin now has 18 goals in his past 18 games, so the Capitals’ captain and his team are ahead of the pack in a way that almost seems unthinkable in this age of parity.
And, hey, Mike Richards shows that there are some fresh stories beyond “Get this, Washington keeps winning.”
It took Mike Richards 15 games to score his first goal with the Washington Capitals, but hey … at least it was memorable.
Granted, it wasn’t really notable because Richards did something amazing. Instead, it’s worth watching because of how angry Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue ended up being.
You can see why in the video above.
As an aside: should Richards be a playoff fixture for the Capitals, or would Washington eventually be better off moving in another direction when the games matter that much more?
Richards received a standing ovation for his efforts.
Update: To make it sting a little more, Richards’ goal ended up being the game-winner as the Capitals beat the Coyotes 3-2.
Also, Domingue still wasn’t happy after the game:
St. Louis Blues tough guy Ryan Reaves delivered a boarding hit on Matt Tennyson of the San Jose Sharks, and the outcome was frightening to watch.
As you can see from the video above, Tennyson may have been dazed (or knocked unconscious) on his way down to the ice, so it didn’t appear as though he was able to brace his fall.
The Sharks made the Blues pay on ensuing power plays, and currently lead St. Louis 3-0 early in the first period.
We’ll keep an eye out for updates regarding Tennyson’s condition.
Update: Unfortunately, it could be a concussion.
The St. Louis Blues currently find themselves down 3-0 early to the San Jose Sharks, yet that’s probably not why Brian Elliott left their net.
The belief is that Elliott may have suffered a lower-body injury. If true, this is maybe the most “2015-16 St. Louis Blues” thing possible, as this team continues to weather a baffling array of injuries.
On Sunday alone, the team dealt with the gut-punch of an announcement that Alexander Steen will miss at least one month of action.
It’s weirdly fitting, too, that Elliott might be injured on the night that Jake Allen returned from his own issues. For all the talk about a goalie controversy, perhaps the multiple-choice question should have been:
C) Injuries will take the choice away
Now, Ken Hitchcock has been a little funky with goalie swaps before, so there’s always the chance that Elliott is OK. Perhaps it will go down as an early hook, after all?
Update: It is indeed a lower-body injury.
An 82-game season is a long haul, so you can only read so much into any match.
Still, the San Jose Sharks (who spent on some trade pickups today) and the St. Louis Blues (who found out they’ll be without Alexander Steen for some time) are two franchises in murky places right now.
There’s talent on both sides, no doubt. Vladimir Tarasenko, Brent Burns, Jaden Schwartz, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski are just a few examples of the players worth tuning in for.
Beyond that, with the deadline looming – even after San Jose did some homework early – a contest like this may steer a GM more in one direction or the other.
Get a better idea of where these two teams are going on Monday; the game airs on NBCSN and you can also stream in online via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE