Bruins beat Caps 4-1: Mortifying

Milan Lucic celebrates as John Carlson and Semyon Varlamov turn away in horror.

Varly looks like Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull only angrier. (Capture by @Caps_Girl)

Varly looks like DeNiro in Raging Bull, only angrier. (Capture by @Caps_Girl)

Milan Lucic and the Bruins are too much for the Caps to handle for a second straight night. (Photo credit: Mary Schwalm)

Every great song is about loss of some kind: loss of life, loss of a beautiful woman, or loss of that loving feeling. The Capitals should probably download some Righteous Brothers on their iPiddles about now.  Maybe some Chuck Brown to commemorate the miserable funk they’re in. Maybe some Hank Williams to soundtrack the drowning of sorrows. Or maybe some Dark Tranquility— you know, death metal: really brutal stuff to remind them of how brutal this game was.

What can we say?  Besides the last ten minutes, this was some of worst Caps hockey we’ve seen in more than a year. But we can’t deny that Bruins were truly dialed in, most of all due to senior goalie Tim Thomas, who stopped 38 of 39 Caps shots (a season high). But it must be said that the lion’s share of the shots he faced seemed predestined for his pads.  Not that he wasn’t terrific, but that Caps awfulness might have inflated that perception.

It seems unfair to pick any players out for bad performances; it was almost uniformly bad. Like last game, the Caps are still wracked by injury, direly missing Boyd Gordon and Mike Green in particular. Like last game, they struggled to clear the defensive zone and coordinate forward thrusts, often feeding avaricious Bruins perching on the forecheck. Like last game, they didn’t put pucks in the air against a virtuoso butterfly goalie who owned the low area. And just like last game, they were hoisted with their own petard. Bruins beat Caps 4-1.

Bullets over Boston. Blech.

  • Jason Chimera‘s turnover-and–goal rescued the evening from Cutthroat Island-level disaster. Instead, we got a quaint Howard the Duck-level disaster. Thanks, Chimmer.
  • Oh, perfect penalty kill unit, we hardly knew ye.
  • Why does every Caps power play come with complementary shorthanded chance for the other team?
  • Ian and Peter have been vicious towards Marcus Johansson, but he wasn’t bad at all tonight. Then again, the notoriously bad facer-offer took none of them in his own zone, so let’s temper the defensive accolades.
  • On the flip side, Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera had no starts in the offensive zone.
  • That plus-minus hoarder, Jeff Schultz, had a rough one: -2.
  • Both Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble put a lot pucks in front of the net, but they simply could not score. Of all the Caps players, they’re the two for whom this axiom is most likely true: the goals will come.
  • Tim Thomas. Dammit. I honestly thought he retired last year. Why couldn’t they have started the guy who pilots the Millennium Falcon in Jedi? What’s his name? Tuukka Rask.
  • Given how tired everyone looked tonight, is it possible that Michal Neuvirth shared his flu bug with his teammates? Or is that too conspiratorial? Are we wearing tin-foil hats?
Joe B's suit-of-the-night

Joe B's suit-of-the-night

Alright, let’s put this night to bed. The Caps lost this game in the same fashion they lost Tuesday, but all is not lost. They’ve amassed two hours of valuable footage detailing precisely how not to play ice hockey. Their injured players are on the mend. Their healthy players are fed up with losing. They’re motivated, insurgent, and- most of all- Angry.

The only forlorn folks out there are we fans.  We’ll have to power through. If we can make it to Saturday, everything will be fine. Everything will be fine. Pretty please.

  • Rob

    The wings are too far down in the zone, trying to cover for a weak D, and therefore we have no breakout or transition…forget about any odd man breaks…the only wing close to the point is Ovie…but he SHOULD be down lower….the other teams wings are having a field day picking off pucks whipped around the boards in a panic….but when you have 2 rookie D and two D that belong in the AHL…and no I don’t think the Caps were “missing” Gordon tonight…he would have solved nada……

  • Peter Hassett

    Rob, I think Gordon is pretty good on faceoff, D, PK, puck possession– pretty much everything except hits and scoring. Neil has pointed out that he’s a great deal at his salary.

    But I can’t deny your point about the broad weakness on D. It’s gotten sad too quick for my tastes.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Rob

    Gordo is decent for what he is, but not the issue with this team so far this year. I watched the Kings last night, full of youth and full of vigor…they were flying around like it was round one….have not seen that here in DC for awhile. The hussle factor is gone….is that the players (GM) or is that the coach ?? dunno but we don’t skate or try like a championship team IMO

  • J.P.

    Some random thoughts about the last few games:
    Nick Backstrom where have you been? Someone’s been inside your uniform pretending to play hockey, but surely that’s not you. Is it?

    When did Knuble turn into Jason Campbell? Bad hands, no pocket awareness, and ineffective play usually get you shipped off to Oakland for a 4th round pick. Just ‘cuz Oakland doesn’t have a hockey club doesn’t mean it couldn’t (or shouldn’t) happen. Just sayin’….

    Not sure how the Bruins were able to sneak those personal force field generators past the on-ice officials, but they sure were handy in clearing space between the Cap’s defenders and the Boston shooters. Whattaya mean there’s no such thing as personal force field generators? Surely the Caps would man up tight against their opponent in the D-zone and surely wouldn’t allow the Bruins all that free space to shoot into unless they were physically kept away by super secret, stolen govt technology from the future? Right? Right?

    Power Play? I’ve no idea what that’s supposed to look like. Apparently the Caps think it means giving up scoring opportunities to the other team while aimlessly dumping the puck into the corner. No sense taking a shot if there’s an opportunity to make six extra passes thru traffic and create a charitable give-away to an opponent. Me, I like to give to charity thru the United Way, but ya gotta give the Caps major props for giving directly to the less fortunate without the handicap of an outside agency.

    Sloan and Erskine, really? Really? Matt Leinart and Jason Campbell (2, count ’em 2, JC references in one thread!) could probably be pried away from their respective NFL day jobs and still wear a better sweater than Sloan and Erskine.

    Someone needs to blow that PP unit the frack up. Elephants on ice skates could put better shots on net then the current unit. Yeah, I went there. For reals.

    Sigh. Yeah, I know it’s early, but still….jeez.

  • Neil – RMNB

    @Rob “The hussle factor is gone” = Record with BGordon is 4-0. Without, 0-3.

  • Sean

    Dark Tranquillity and brutal don’t belong in the same paragraph, let alone in the same sentence. Come on, least you could do is go with some actually brutal death metal for that reference, as opposed to melodic stuff. Perhaps something like Suffocation, Incantation, Immolation, or even NoVA local Fetid Zombie.


  • Peter Hassett


    Man, I knew I was walking into it by mentioning death metal at all. I just can’t win with you people.

  • Salvatore

    Dark Tranquillity is to melodic.

    Caps need to play some old school Morbid Angel before games

  • Cannibal Corpse – Evisceration Plague

    Gut the nightly roster.

  • over_head (rob)

    If I compared the Caps play to any metal, it would be Meshugga. Everyone playing to a different time signature. It works for OK for the music, but not so well on the ice.

    I have a hard time being critical of the Caps defensive positioning (wings to high, wings to low etc) because I do not fully understand what Bruce is asking them to do. And it is really difficult on TV, from the close up view, to tell exactly what is happening away from the puck. I can guess and apply what most coaches ask player to do, but it is just that, a guess. I can say this, three people staring at the guy with the puck behind the net with their backs turned to the rest of the ice is not a good defensive strategy ;). The Caps in general, wings, centers, defense, were beat in one on one battles too often. They were lazy IMO. And, IMO, the forward this year have been lazy on the back check far too often. It has left the defense in a bad spot many times.

    I am not too worried about it for the most part. But, there is one thing bothering me. Teams are doing this year exactly what Montreal did in the playoffs. That is they clogging up the neutral zone and forcing the Caps to be patient. The Caps are not good at being patient. They have not adjusted to this yet, and I figured they would have after the playoff exit last year. I will give them time, but if BB is not asking them to adjust he is not doing his job. Another problem is being patient also includes working hard on both ends of the ice and frankly the Caps are not getting it done. This is not a hot goaltender problem, it is a failure to adjust to other teams strategy and a failure to work hard enough to win individual battles. Defense is mostly about effort and hard work, not seeing either consistently.

  • Sean


    Let’s be friends.

  • Rob

    @Sean – well the last 2 games that could have had as much to do with Green being out since thats where the majority of our issues are…we are a transtion and PP team thats it…we are not going to beat you 5 on 5 playing 1/2 ice….team has never been that way since Ovie got here…if Gordo is our cog, and there are 5 guys in Hershey that could replace him…we are in trouble

    @Overheard – I can’t believe the coach WANTS the wings down in the Defensive corners helping out struggling D men, they don’t have a choice…hence why the puck stays in and stifles ANY transtion…makes it easier to clog the neutral zone too…the centers have been horrible in that regard.

  • charlie

    center spot is looking weak, all four levels. yikes!


    Backstrom & Knuble.

    Under normal circumstances, only one of these guys deserves to be on the 1st line.

    Under current circumstances, neither do.

  • I propose two things. Put Fehr on the first line with Ovi, and dump Knuble to the second line with Semin and PERREAULT. Crazy, right?

  • over_head (rob)

    @Rob Depends on the situation and how aggressive they want to be on the puck I suppose. I wish I understood what Bruce asks them to do defensively, but I do not. I do know that they do not want people taking shots from the slot while they are unmolested. I would have to watch the game again and pay more attention. The breakout does seem weak, but to me that is because the Caps seem to depend too often on the stretch pass, when that is not available they look a little lost to me. Even if the wings are deep they *should* be able to get the puck up the ice, it just might require a little skating from the defense. All that being said I am not hockey systems expert, so I could be way off.

    As a fan I know what they are doing does not look like it is working. I see lots of gliding and not enough hard work.

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