Boyd Gordon notched his second of the season (a short-handed one I might add) in a 5-2 victory over Tampa on Wednesday night. Pettinger started the play by diving to hit the puck out of the Caps zone. Gordon hopped on the opportunity and made a nice breakaway with Brad Richards all over him, was more patient than Johan Holmqvist, and stuffed it top shelf. This by far was the prettiest goal of the night, and every Caps goal was a beauty. Even Alexander Ovechkin's empty netter. There's just something exciting about watching Ovy strip a defenseman of the puck and putting it home, even with Tampa's goalie watching from the bench. And how about Matt Pettinger. He is the complete reason for the Kris Beech and Boyd Gordon goals. 2nd star for him, deservingly so. Aside from all the goals being highlight reel and the Caps snapping their winless streak, what really is interesting is how Boyd Gordon has really come into his own.
In the first game of the season, Boyd Gordon only logged 7:18 in ice time. He got an injury in that game, and didn't return until late october. Wednesday night in Tampa, he logged a season high of 16:11 of ice time. The confidence that Hanlon has to play Boyd Gordon that many minutes for a defensive minded forward definately accounts for something. His confidence has seemed to be glaring ever since he tallied his first goal of the season (another highlight-reel goal) against the Rangers 18 days ago. In the last 3 games, Gordon has a goal and an assist, and is plus-1. He now has 2 goals and 4 assists on the season. He's on pace for around 10 goals and 20 assists on the season. Not bad at all for a 4th line defensive minded centerman who's in his first full season of the NHL. Certainly not worthy of the Calder, but for his role that's pretty good, especially considering he's best known for his faceoff and penalty killing abilities.
So Jeff Halpern returns to D.C. tonight with his new team, the Dallas Stars. A 10 million dollar, four year deal brought him there. I liked having Halpern on this team, but there had to be roster space made. I'd rather have Zednik on this team. I'd rather have Klepis develop in the big leagues. I'd rather have Boyd Gordon on the PK and in the faceoff circle. And I said about 1/3 of the way through last season, if Halpern leaving means Clark will be captain, I'm all for it. Nothing against Halpern, but I could see night in and night out, Clark just went out there and played his guts out, leading by example. I enjoyed watching him in the 03-04 finals, and he's been my favorite player since his first game as a Cap. He's the kind of captain I want on this Caps team. So I wish Halpern well, he didn't burn us and we didn't burn him. It just wasn't going to work. I think both Halpern and the Caps organization knew it right at the end of the season. I will not be booing Halpern seeing as he did not request a trade or "pull a Jagr". It frustrates me to hear people say "Let's boo Halpern!" Some of whom are the same ignorant fans who still cheered Witt after he said he didn't want to be on this team. And Witt wasn't even that good. Erskine is a thousand times better!
Anyways, my prediction for this game is the Caps take it 3-2. Regulation or OT. No shootout. Goals from Pettinger, Zubrus, and Brashear. Yes, Brashear. Welcome back Brash! Betteman doesn't know what the hockey world has been missing without you!