Poor Effort, Bad Bounces Sink Caps: Thrashers Win 5-0

Braden Holtby: despondent.

A despondent Braden Holtby looks on after giving up the third goal of the night. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

When Joe B. and Locker finished their pre-game intros and CSN cameras zoomed in for the opening face-off, it was hard not to notice the rows and rows of empty seats in Phillips Arena. The Capitals, seemingly aware of their surroundings, lacked energy and focus and proceeded to play down to their opponents. After giving up three quick goals to Ben Eager, Nik Antropov, & Evander Kane respectively, Braden Holtby was quickly summoned to the Caps bench by an enraged Bruce Boudreau.

Michal Neuvirth was steady in relief, but unfortunately for the Capitals, they were never able to locate their game after the switch. The offense was blessed with quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance but all resulted either in a missed shot, a ping off the post, or a solid save by Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Evil cheeseburger-eater Dustin Byfuglien then put the game officially out of reach, closing the second period with a nifty short-side wrist shot past Neuvy. And let’s not even talk about that Burmistrov goal. I’m still angry at Jeff Schultz, who stopped skating, got deked out of his jockstrap and resembled a giant, awkward pylon on the play. Whatever. Thrashers win 5-0.

Your Friday night bullets:

  • How bad was Braden Holtby‘s night? He gave up three goals on five shots, and left the ice with a humbling .400 save percentage. The second goal he wandered way too far out of his crease, and paid the price. Nik Antropov took advantage of the broken play, and slipped a backhander past a kneeling Jeff Schultz, into a yawning net. Clearly frazzled, Holtby gave up another 15 seconds later. Caps-killer Evander Kane circled the net, saw the rookie goalie briefly glance to the opposite side of the ice, and proceeded to let go a no-angled shot from the corner. The puck somehow found a hole through Holtby’s pads and…
  • Out came Lil’ Michal Neuvirth! Neuvy certainly did his best to try and get the Caps back into the game, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Really, if only the Caps could have scored a goal in that danged second period… I’m kidding.
  • Tyler Sloan was um, terrible. He had 7 starts in the offensive zone (during 5v5), most of any skater, and still was on the ice for 4 goals against on 5 chances against. His turnover in the neutral zone also led directly to Byfuglien’s sixth tally of the year, the most amongst NHL defensemen.

  • Another ugh for Schultz after I just relived video of that Burmistrov goal. What was that? It’s fine if you get walked. That happens. But don’t give up on the play! It’s embarrassing.
  • Alex Semin‘s nine-game scoring streak is now kaput. Peace, yo.
  • Mike Knuble just can’t buy a break. First, Alex Ovechkin hits him with a sweet pass, he’s wide open, and his shot clangs off the post. Next, the dude’s downlow creating havoc, being all Kanooblian, and Eric Fehr hits him square in the face with a shot. Knuble went to the bench clutching his bloody chin, then to the locker room for repairs, and did not return. Corey Masisak asked Bruce about the injury and it sounds like he may miss some games.
  • Mike Green got The Palm tonight. For what you ask? He had two blocked shots and really “gave it his all.”
  • Marcus Johansson sure skates fast. Still waiting for everything else.
  • Seeing Flash and Byfuglien forechecking along the boards was probably the only comical part of the night. On one exchange during the third period, Dustin shoved Fleischmann from the corner boards to the faceoff circle. That’s Charmin soft.
  • Alex Ovechkin was probably the third best Alex out on the ice tonight and has now had consecutive iffy games. That DVD sure is good, though!!
Joe B's suit of the night.

Joe B's suit of the night.

One of the things about the Caps that I love is that no opposing team’s lead is ever really safe. Last year, the Capitals offense came back from several three goal deficits and seemed capable of magical things. Tonight, however, they wilted. They looked defeated. At no point during the game did they ever have momentum. No one stepped up. They just took their beating and emotionlessly walked out of the Phillips Arena’s doors with their heads held low.

Tomorrow night, they will play at home against Conference foes the Philadelphia Flyers, where they’re 10-1-0. Will Bruce tinker with the line-up? Will our heros return with swagger. Does Mike Knuble still even have a chin?

I suppose we’ll find out tomorrow. Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.

  • BobbyG

    There’s not much I can say about this game that’s already been said in Ian’s summary. The Caps were sluggish and looked lost almost from the first puck drop, and the game was essentially over less than halfway through the first period. Ordinarily a 3 goal deficit wouldn’t be impossible for the Caps to overcome with 2 1/2 periods remaining, but the Caps just weren’t able to recover. The effort wasn’t there, they looked and played like they were already defeated and stopped competing, and it was lights out way too early.

    Poor Mike Knuble. He must have been born under a bad sign. He is the embodiment of Cream’s song “If it wasn’t for bad luck. I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” His broken face aside, and I’m sure it must hurt like hell, but what are the Caps going to do now to fill his slot on right wing on the so-called top line? Adjustments will have to be made, possibly involving a callup from Hershey, so this development could be very interesting.

    Ovie. What positive can I say about him? Unfortunately, there isn’t anything. His play isn’t just iffy, it’s atrocious. Who would have thought he would be referred to as “probably the third best Alex out on the ice tonight”? He wasn’t probably third best, he absolutely was. For someone who prides himself on being the best PLAYER in the NHL, Ovie must be shaking his head wondering what he has to do to break out of his slump and return to being, well, OVIE. When we get the real Ovie back is anyone’s guess, but I hope it’s soon. His teammates miss him, they need him to lead as only he can. It’s still early in the season, but his funk better not go on and fester much longer.

  • Dawn

    This game was so painful to watch, especially against a team like the Atlanta Thrashers. They are 8-9-3 compared to our 14-5-1 and this should not have happened obviously. As BobbyG said, they looked terrible out on the ice, sluggish, confused and no effort whatsoever. I was so disappointed that I had to turn the game off in the third period because it was just too hard to watch for me.

    And I hope that Mike Knuble gets better soon. A broken face has to suck.

    As far as Ovie is concerned, he needs to get his head back into the game. I’ve never seen him look so terrible on the ice before. I understand that every player has slumps at some point in their career, but this is ridiculous. He is the Captain and he needs to put more effort in so he can be a true leader and show the team that awesome work ethic he has normally. He spends a lot of time doing things with his girlfriend or going to clubs and he needs to spend that time practicing a bit more. He is the best player in the NHL, again as BobbyG mentioned, and he is so much better than he was last night. I just hope that he gets out of that slump he’s in soon. I miss the real Ovie.

  • barb

    cheer up (explicatives removed for your own safety)

    the caps are still top of the league by three points. and now….now they’re in a really bad mood because they got humbled.

    i feel sorry for philly!

  • Ahem … that wasn’t a hockey game we watched last night. It was a remake of that 70’s movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Planet Earth has been invaded by mind sucking aliens and their first victims were obviously the Caps … because that is the only logical explanation for that atrocious game last night. 😉

  • BobbyG

    @barb: IMO the Caps are winning despite Ovie, not because of anything he’s contributed lately. I don’t know if I feel sorry for Philly. They will be in a lousy mood too, considering they blew 4 leads against Tampa Bay in their last game and eventually lost.

    @Dawn: I wasn’t going to say anything about this, but since you brought up the subject:

    IMO Ovie’s girlfriend is bored by hockey, going to practices and games, and he feels pressured to keep her entertained and amused enough to stay in DC instead of going to NYC to party with her friends. That’s why he’s out late at parties and night clubs, which depletes his energy and focus for playing hockey. Also, he’s been shooting commercials and making appearances to promote his new DVD. There are only so many hours in the day and so much fuel in the tank even for a young healthy athlete like him. IMO Ovie needs to get his priorities in order before his game goes into the toilet for good.

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