Gah! On pixel this looked like an easy match up. The Caps, second in the NHL and well atop the Southeast, should be able to lay down the smack on the last-place Canes for the third time this season. That sure as hell did not happen– as the Canes bested the Caps 6-3 and handed the home team their first loss inside the division all season. You could blame it on the distractions from today’s trade, a consistently incompetent defensive squad, or Jose Theodore’s top-heavy prettiness:goalstopping ratio; but the Caps got beat all around the phone booth tonight.
In a somber mood and somewhat nauseated from hot wings, let’s break it down:
- Chris Clark‘s presence was completely absent from the Cap– huh? What!?! Well, we’ll always have 11/11, Chris!
- Jose Theodore returned to the ice tonight amidst a few days grumbling over losing the top slot to newbie Michael Neuvirth. If tonight’s performance was meant to change minds, it may have– but not in the way Jose wanted. Theodore gave up three goals in the first period, and then another two more for good measure. He surrendered sloppy rebounds all night, and the Hurricanes’ offense gobbled them right up. The Caps’ top goalkeeper from last year may soon be going the way of the Kolzig, but he should not take the full brunt of the blame.
- The defensive squad was lackluster all night, helping not at all with loose pucks and taking far too long to get what should be an easy clear. How much of this game could have gone better if the team raced to the puck instead of watching it float by?
- On the other hand, Mike Green clocked a monster half hour of ice time tonight, and he did his best with it. An impressive, tumbling slapshot got the Caps on the board, he assisted Ovie’s goal, and he had a couple other decent shots as well. Greener finished the night with an even plus/minus, which cannot be said for many others on the team. Hey, Team Canada, I know you like what you see. Hit your boy up!
- Our modest namesake had two points for the night and was the most physical player on the team tonight. His top-shelf bullet early in the third period damn near put the Caps back on track, but even the greatest hockey player in the world is just one player. Still, the way Alexander Ovechkin combines finesse and knuckle-dragging– in the same maneuver, no less– makes hockey worth watching.
- Alexander Semin reportedly left a shift in the third period complaining about his wrist and cursing in Russian (which I NEED to hear). Russian Machine recommends he ice his wrist with a stack of frosty thousand-dollar bills from his contract extension. I’m little Alexander’s biggest supporter, but his performance was seriously lacking tonight. The boy did very little on defense and stood idly by while the Canes scored their second of the night. Tsk tsk, little one.
- Karl Alzner should have had a great game tonight. He started off strong, doing a yeoman’s work on the first Canes’ power play, but he seemed to do little else thereafter. He was playing for half of the Carolina’s goals tonight. I know I’m in the minority here, but Alzner’s defense seems like more of the same to me. If the Caps are champions (and we humbly propose they are), the blue liners are the remaining puzzle piece.
- Nicklas Backstom‘s double minor for high sticking set a poor tone for the evening, but Russian Machine is going to hand out a free pass to its Swedish cousin anyway. It was honest if disastrous goof, the kind that John Erskine was giving out like free candy earlier this season, but we forgive him because he’s been so awesome lately.
- Boyd Gordon finally returned to the Caps tonight, and reportedly he played hockey– although we could find no evidence of that before press time.
The Caps power play sucked so hard even Horn Guy was lacking enthusiasm (HORN GUY FOLLOW US ON TWITTER PLEASE). Maybe it’s the hot wings talking here (and they are talking… in the bad way), but the level of play we saw tonight was not Cup-caliber, maybe not even playoff material. Bruce’s team has another opportunity to prove themselves on Wednesday against San Jose, a very impressive team this season. Maybe this Chimera guy will show us something special. Or bite Ovie’s ear off during the pre-game skate.