The game had a decided pre-season feel to it with the Caps sitting several regulars, among them Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, Matt Niskanen, and John Carlson (injured). Even the NHL seemed to take this game off…
…yes, that is the game summary published by the NHL. No, it is not the pre-game, pristine version, but what we were left with at game’s end.
So what we have are some general comments.
-- No NHL game is meaningless. It was a chance for Garrett Mitchell, a veteran of eight seasons and almost 400 regular season and playoff games with Hershey in the AHL, a sixth-round pick in the 2009 draft, to get a sweater for his NHL debut. The game had no impact on the final standings, but no players debut is lacking for impact.
-- Chandler Stephenson got into his fourth game this season, his 13th career game with the Caps, and his first NHL action since February 1st. Consider it recognition for a fine season with the Hershey Bears, where he is 10-28-38, plus-9, in 71 games so far this season.
-- The Caps finished the season having allowed 177 goals, fewest in the league by 16 goals (Columbus Blue Jackets).
-- It was the fourth time this season that the Caps were shut out, the third time it happened on home ice, although it was the only time in the 2017 portion of the season that the Caps were blanked at Verizon Center.
-- It was the only time in the 2017 portion of the season that the Caps allowed two goals or fewer at home and lost the game in regulation time.
In the end…
It was not the Caps’ best performance of the year, or even perhaps their best performance of the day (the clips from the “jerseys-off-our-backs” promotion looked pretty good). But it appears no one was injured (although there was a moment when Braden Holtby had his mask knocked off that had Caps fans recoiling in horror), and attention will now turn to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team the Caps have never faced in the postseason. Now, it’s for real.