Braden Holtby’s body language says it all. (Photo credit: Bill Kostroun)
It was like the end of the Wild Bunch if the Wild Bunch look bored while getting massacred by the Mexican army.
Friends, I love you too much to recap this game fully. I usually detail the goals here, but I like you too much to subject you to that punishment. Suffice it to say the New Jersey Devils scored a lot and the Washington Capitals did not score at all. The goals were ugly and avoidable. This was a solid hour of embarrassment– if only the Washington Capitals were capable of embarrassment.
This was the worst game of the Bruce Boudreau era. Devils beat Caps 5-0.
It’s inelegant to adopt the “wotta bunch’a bums!” sports-fan routine, but I understand it. Losing is bearable only when it’s done right, and this was not that. The Caps decidedly did not give a damn for way too much hockey. Those long, diagonal stretch passes through the neutral zone and ineffectual point-blank slapshots into traffic don’t just signify carelessness, they signify entitlement.
Does our team think they should win merely because they can?
It’s messy to judge someone’s intent. I don’t know what’s wrong with the Washington Capitals. It’s possible they’re still shell-shocked by last year’s playoffs and think of the regular season as an 82-game preamble to their chance at redemption. I hope that’s not true. If it is, Caps Nation might tune out until April.
I’m sorry this wasn’t a fun story, everyone. It wasn’t a fun night. It’s kind of sobering to suspect that the fans cared more about this game than the players. Hopefully the team can rekindle their unholy eldritch magicks, drop some peyote and wander the psychic wilds with their spirit animals, or just munch on a damn Heath bar and play like they love the game again.
Please leave encouraging words and maybe a hug in the comments below.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.
UPDATE: John Erskine tweeted this:
The honesty and accountability that John and goalie Braden Holtby showed are admirable. It seems that lack of shame I mentioned in the opening doesn’t apply to everyone.
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