A despondent Braden Holtby looks on after giving up the third goal of the night. (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!!
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.