Thanks to Darcy Kuemper, the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 1-0

The Washington Capitals brought two new faces to their Sunday night game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returned to action for a match that wasn’t… well… not very good, other than the winning part.

Erik Gustafsson continued his incredibly hot streak, courtesy of a lucky rebound near the crease. Then we spent a million years aimlessly. Kuemper earned his fourth league-leading shutout of the season.

Caps win!

  • Yikes on this one. The Caps played their first shifts, but after the first goal they struggled to get into the offensive zone. It was a rough and unpleasant game, and Columbus controlled the neutral zone for most of it. The Caps didn’t really have any energy until the last 6 or 7 minutes of regulation time.
  • When you are totally stomped everywhere except the scoreboard, you have to give up for your goalkeeper, Darcy Kuemper, which was understated, which is always how you want your keeper hooked. He lifted the Caps to victory. It was a very tough shutout (around three goals expected for CBJ), and it’s wonderful that Kuemper earned it to take the league lead.
  • Including that one, I now count three stinkers in the past two weeks: the loss to the Senators in December and the loss to the Predators the other night. What to worry about in the long term?
  • I won’t talk about Anthony Mantha, who was a healthy scratch. You already know how I feel, and you’ve probably seen how the Lars Eller line did in this one without him.
  • The shot at the defender Erik GustafssonMaybe the goal of was a pass. Anyway, he scored his 7th goal in 11 games, a nice streak that more than compensates for his defensive shortcomings. unless you are ianfamous Gus-hater.
  • Check out this sign below. “We’re going to party like it’s 1943.” You understand?! Because Backstrom isn’t. 19 and Wilson is no. 43? And it kinda sounds like that Prince song? Pretty cool. No, I won’t be looking for any historical details about the year 1943, but I have to assume there were some good parties. (Our schools are failing our children.)
  • Thomas Wilson played his first match since May 3, 2022, when he suffered an ACL injury. He threw several hits but didn’t really have the puck. It seemed to be a few shifts less than a normal workload.
  • Nicklas Backstrom played his first game since May 13, 2022. He suffered a hip surface injury to treat chronic pain and limited mobility that had bothered him for years. Hip resurfacing is totally tricky, so by no means click that link to a video of the surgery in progress. Backstrom had virtually no attack time, and he got pulled over for a marginal boarding call. Here is my feedback on Backstrom’s first game: 🤐

Maybe that game was just meant to be known as the game where Backstrom and Wilson returned, and what happened on the ice would always be a footnote. We don’t know how Backstrom and Wilson will face off for the rest of the season; it’s just a blessing to have them both back. That and a win are more than enough.

Main picture: @clairehardie7

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