Devils beat Caps 5-0

Holtby's Body Language says it all

Braden Holtby’s body language says it all. (Photo credit: Bill Kostroun)

Hendy tries to light a fire under his boys. Instead he gets pounded by Adam Mair. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Hendrick's fight fails to ignite the team (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

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.


  • The Caps mounted 4 shots in the first period, the first not until around 8 minutes in. Those shots came from the unusual suspects: Carlson, Fehr, Steckel, and Bradley.
  • Braden Holtby is definitely on the hook for drifting out before Jason Arnott‘s wraparound goal. On the other hand, the other goals were mitigated by atrocious defensive plays and Braden did show remarkable resolve after the fifth goal. Let’s not pile on the rookie goalie. But a .666 save percentage against a team called the Devils? Wicked.
  • Is the party line that Alex Ovechkin is frustrated? To me he seems uninterested. The GR8 had 5 shots and 5 hits in 22 minutes of sloppy, scatter-shot hockey.
  • Tyler Sloan and John Erskine made life tough on Holtby, enabling to the second goal and the the penalty shot that became the third. Tyler Sloan did not return after the first period (total TOI 3:25), meaning he is either injured or has been fired. Unfortunately, it’s probably the former.
  • Did the NJD blueliners show up for the first time in nine games? Awful timing. Maybe the Pat Burns commemoration before the game got their trap defense mojo working again. Or maybe the Caps forwards were that bad.
  • Only two Capitals were on the positive side of the scoring chance differential: Mike Green and Marcus Johansson. Each was plus-1.
  • That John Carlson won player of the game is unfortunate. He was on ice for six very dangerous shots against, but luckily no goals. Carlson should bring Braden Holtby along to that dinner at the Palm.
Alan May is a masochist

Alan May is a masochist

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.

Joe B's suit-of-the-night

Joe B's suit-of-the-night

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.

  • Mily

    All of the loses will only make the wins sweeter. Maybe as fans, we’ve been spoiled by their winning streaks so it’s only right that we remember the feeling of these past nights. This way, we can appreciate their wins at an even greater depth.

    …I don’t know what I’m saying but here’s a virtual hug.

  • Lindsey

    I’m sending a hug and positive vibes from my side of the Potomac to yours. Gabs won’t let games like these continue.

  • AlexOVr8ted
  • Livia

    Thanks for being there, RMNB. Win or lose, you tell the truth, and after tonight’s game, your game summary kept me from curling up in a corner and weeping. (How’s that for encouragement?)

  • BobbyG

    Thanks for taking pity on us for the recap.

    There are brighter days ahead for the Caps and for Ovie. If they respond well to this sort of adversity, the experience will serve them well come playoff time. Sometimes you have to taste the dregs from the bottom of the barrel, the better to appreciate the champagne sipped from the Stanley Cup.

  • JDP

    Blech. That wasn’t pretty. Varlamov is back though

  • peachy

    (((hugs))) to RMNB…what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks, CAPS????

  • Mily

    @AlexOver8ted’s link:

    “The demand proved to be too high.”

    Those words just happened to jump out at me.

  • CapsFan1975


    Is Varly ready for prime time? I had thought he was getting more time in Hershey since I had read he still needed some time but since Neuvy’s hurt, he’s now up with the Caps.

    So now we know who’s starting on Wednesday, the man whose initials are SAV.

    But who will start Friday? Not sure Varly can start every other day just yet.

  • Ian

    “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.”

    Well said, Peter. I wonder if that’s what’s going on, too. It’s sad to say, but these guys don’t have the same fight as they did last year. Some of them need to take a look in the mirror, because tonight’s effort and the effort in Atlanta was embarrassing.

  • Ian

    @CapsFan1975 @JDP – Varly will probably not start this week for the Caps, and if Neuvy’s okay, he’ll probably be sent down to Hershey ASAP. He still needs some more time to work off the rust. If you would have seen him this weekend, you’d know what I mean.

  • TheHornGuy

    Being several hours removed from last night’s debacle, which I decided to look upon comically rather than desopondently through the third period, I am not that upset. The Caps shit the bed twice in 3 games but they have yet to find a groove this season. It may be that with so many guys dinged up (Gordon, Knuble, Poti, Varly) they have yet to let their chemistry congeal. I’m giving them until mid December to get their groove back.

  • Em

    As was said before, this was much easier to swallow because of your honest recap…which I wish I would have read last night before bed, since I woke up at 2 a.m. cursing the Caps loudly and dreaming up new and inventive ways to kill those b!tches as painfully as possible.

  • Flash took his turn at sitting out a game……. is it Ovi’s “turn to sit”? Would that incite a riot?

    I say slap Knuble’s “A” on Sasha Minor and see what happens…..

  • Manda

    Can I be negative for one second? Only because I know you guys heart Ovi, too do I have to agree that I think he does look disinterested as well. He looks tooo relaxed sometimes just standing and waiting for the puck to come to him. In a game where the mantra is “move your legs”, I’m disappointed to see his lack of buy-in to this dogma.
    But it was funny to hear L’ockere say someone was “sitting down for a deuce” when there was a penalty.

    Hugs and Holtbyisms


    “Those long, diagonal stretch passes through the neutral zone and ineffectual point-blank slapshots into traffic don’t just signify carelessness, they signify entitlement.”

    EXACTLY! I thought the same thing while suffering through the eye-rape that was last night’s game.

    I pity the poor Hurricanes on Wed – here’s hoping the boys play like a woman scorned!


    …and I know we shouldn’t pile on Holtby – but – I mean really!?

    Honestly, he’s just not ready for prime time. Thats not piling on – thats just tough love.

  • Rockin’ The Red in VA

    Here’s one man’s take. . .

    The Caps have taken us to such heights over the last few seasons. With Ovie stickhandling and goal scoring antics, Backstroms ability to move a puck, “Game Over” Green’s blasts from the point, and just general magic from everyone else. We’ve come to expect NOTHING but the best from this squad, and when we get taken out back and beaten like we stole something. . .it hurts. Bottom Line!

    Also, we cannot blame this soley on a rookie goaltender. Sure Holtby would love to have some of them back, but a defense that picks and chooses when to play just isn’t going to cut it!

    Heres a nugget to chew on. . .I know this site is dedicated to our Russian friends, but maybe Coach BB, and GM GM should take the “C” and sit the Great 8 for a game, not a punishment but as a opportunity to reflect on the past 2 weeks. Or more importantly the 2 of the last 3 games.

    But at the end of the day this is a team sport. . . We win as a team and lose as a team!

    Go Caps!

  • Peter Hassett

    @Rockin’ the Red in VA

    I was thinking the same thing. Maybe sitting 8 for a game would do good. At least it would make it clear that his current level of shit-giving isn’t acceptable.

  • Dawn

    @Rockin’ the Red in VA – I absolutely agree. Alex’s performance is not acceptable. He needs to get his damn head in the game because these shut-outs are not cool whatsoever.

    And Holtby should not be crucified because of our defense not doing their jobs. He’s a rookie and titled to some mistakes. Too many people put the world on the shoulders of the rookies and it’s not fair.

  • J.P.

    Bruce’s continuing mancrush on Turnover Machine Tyler Sloan is going to keep getting our goalies hung out to dry. Dude is in no way, shape, or form an NHL level player. If there’s not someone better somewhere down on the farm, then the Caps are in serious trouble with their player development.

  • BobbyG

    The Capitals certainly haven’t been playing Capitals hockey lately. That’s why I decided to remain upbeat, to convince myself that eventually they will put this atypical play behind them and find their groove as The Horn Guy suggested. I’m not ready to panic–yet.

    As for Ovie, I also have to reluctantly agree with Rockin’ the Red in VA and Dawn that perhaps now might be a good time to sit Ovie for a game, not as punishment, but to hopfully provide an opportunity for him to clear his head and re-focus. Manda is correct; Ovie has looked too relaxed bordering on disinterested at times. Maybe the experience of sitting and watching while his teammates are out on the ice playing and competing will be enough to remind him how great the game of hockey is and how much he loves it. He has to realize he must give 100% effort if he wants to wear the Caps jersey with the Captain’s C on it.

    I pity the ‘Canes tomorrow night.

  • Sister Ovechkin

    I totally agree with Bobby G! Ovie needs to start jumping into the plays like he used to and create his own time and space. This sitting back and watching the play develop is completely out of line and not acceptable! I think I’ll put a call into the local parish for a exorcism because something has got happen! I would also suggest the following little ditty to be in constant rotation on Ovie’s Ipod:

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