For the first 10 minutes of tonight’s potentially series-ending contest, the Washington Capitals went through the motions and were subsequently dominated in every facet of the game by the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t until our once-lost-but-now-found Russian Supernova, Alex Semin, made one of the most selfless plays of his NHL career with 11:20 left in the first period that the Capitals finally woke up and started playing hard. But by then it was too late. Mike Cammalleri’s wicked blast from the circles at 1:30 made it 1-0. Then five and a half minutes later, after a terrible defensive breakdown in front of the net, Travis Moen went short-side on Varly and scored his first goal of the series, the eventual game-winner. Despite peppering Jaroslav Halak with 15 medium range shots in the first frame (and 38 overall), the Capitals had way too many defensive breakdowns. And as Brendan Morrison so accurately surmised: “We made too many glaring mistakes.”
The Capitals lose to the Habs 2-1. Let’s make some excuses:
- Did the Capitals’ long, dreary trip home from Montreal after Game 4 Wednesday Night affect the team? Sure, maybe. But after getting the day off Thursday to catch up on some sleep, it’s not a valid excuse.
- Is it a respect issue? You could tell after watching the opening faceoff, that many players on Washington’s bench thought that tonight’s game was going to be a breeze. And by the lack of sustained noise in the Verizon Center, you could assume that the listless DC crowd must have believed the same thing. But sorry guys, nothing in the playoffs ever comes easy. Maybe they should listen to Airbourne’s “No Way But The Hard Way.” You have to wonder after Wednesday’s deceiving beat-down, that some of the Caps thought they could put it on cruise control tonight, pick it up in the later stages of the game and still win. And while they almost did just that, the Caps need to develop a killer instinct. These are the Habs for God’s sake. The #8 seed in the weaker Eastern Conference. To be successful in the playoffs, you must do the little things and play with an edge. And tonight, the Capitals didn’t do that.
- A Lack of Secondary Scoring. Bruce Boudreau preached postgame that,” When you have players that are supposed to be scorers and [they] miss really good looks, it is like a checker not doing his job in my mind.” Fair enough. In the same vein, when he was asked about Alex Semin’s performance, Bruce further elaborated on his comments: “How many goals and assists did he get? OK. He did put in a better effort than he’s put in the previous four games, but if we don’t get him scoring it is too easy to check certain guys. He’s just got to come through… That’s 12 games in a row now in the playoffs he hasn’t got one.” But while a lot of people want to rag on Sasha Minor, consider this chilling statistic: Alex Semin had more shots tonight (9) than Tomas Fleischmann has had in the entire series (6). Uh, scary.
- The Best Defenseman in the League? While I believe Mike Green should win the Norris Trophy this year, he’s given new meaning to living the “Green Life” by looking so nervous and tentative on the ice that I’m convinced he’s going to vomit. This team will go nowhere without a Mike Green running at full cylinders. Is he hurt? Is the pressure getting to him? I have no idea. But the fact that Greener wasn’t out on the ice in the final minute of the game was telling.
- Peter Shaved His Beard. RMNB Lead Writer, #beardpact creator & black cat of the Capitals Peter Hassett looked straight into the eyes of the Hockey Gods this morning and gave them the finger. Hassett, whose last words to me before he left was “Is it okay if I clean up a little bit of my neck hair?,” is in Florida this weekend for a friend’s wedding. So naturally, when I got on Facebook earlier tonight, I was horrified to see that my main amigo had given up on our pact and completely shaved his face (guy all the way to the left). Please unleash the fury on Peter in the comments below. He’s obviously the reason why we lost tonight.
There were so many cool things from tonight’s game though. Like as we requested on Wednesday Night, Caps fans loudly cheered O Canada. Eric Belanger – The Dentist (let’s credit Rebecca with the awesome nickname) – showed us how hardcore he is, by taking an errant stick to the face in the first period, ripping one of his teeth on the bench and then coming out for the next faceoff. Semyon Varlamov, Bruce Boudreau and “their lack of communication.” And how can we forget Alex Semin awakening from the dead? Though Sasha couldn’t cash in on one of his nine shots, his diving sweepcheck on a Montreal short-handed breakaway saved a goal and kept the Capitals in the game. Plus, in the second period, Sasha checked anyone who moved – clearly still fuming after his confrontation at the end of the first period.
It’s all too bad we couldn’t concentrate more on any of that. But really, all there’s left to say is enjoy the weekend Nads, because it’s all over for you Monday. We’ll see you then, you bastards.