Matt Bradley is about to bleed. (Photo credit: Michael Dwyer)
The Washington Capitals mounted one of their largest offensive pushes ever to try and stop the Boston Bruins from extending their losing streak to eight. Nope.
The Bruins scored the first three goals of the night all in the first period: a screened shot by Patrice Bergeron, a deflection off Scott Hannan by Andrew Ference (his first in 99 games), and a five-holer by Blake Wheeler. Matt Bradley responded early in the second with a dangle-and-wrist from a tight angle. Karl Alzner turned on hero mode, slapping one in off Tim Thomas’ shoulder to keep the Caps within striking distance. Despite a furious effort in the waning moments, the Bruins felled the Caps 3-2.
- You’re damn right Matt Bradley was player of the game. He dropped gloves with Adam McQuaid after the Bruins’ second goal to evoke some passion from his teammates. When that didn’t work, he opted to just score himself. Bradley’s goal was skillful, and from a player who prides himself on his gritty, ugly style, having him convert on talent alone is signficant.
- Eric Fehr was going to be your healthy scratch tonight (and deservedly so) until Matthew Perot got a touch of the flu. He wasn’t on the ice for any scoring chances in either direction through two periods, but ended up on ice for 7 for in third.
- How big was that third period? Shots were 26-2 for the Caps and scoring chances 13-1. If the Capitals played that hard in every period, we wouldn’t be looking at Voldemort or James Van Der Beek right now.
- As good as that third period was, the first was embarrassing. It took over eight minutes for the Caps to put their first puck on target against Tim Thomas, and I’m not sure Matt Hendricks‘ center-ice dump-in should really count. The Caps would have only one scoring chance in that period against Boston’s eight, and that made all the difference.
- In the second period, Scott Hannan retrieved the puck in front of Michal Neuvirth for the breakout. Reading Neuvirth’s reaction, walling up as if facing an opponent’s breakaway, you get the feeling Hannan/Typhoid Mary might be a double agent.
- Nuevy had a #brittlegroin scare in the second, hyperextending to make a brilliant kick save, but unable to return to upright position afterwards. The whistle was blown, but Neuvy never left the ice.
- Hershey call-up and RMNB buddy Andrew Gordon spent some time on the top line with Alex Ovechkin. That might have been a reward for playing balls-to-the-wall on darn near every shift. Great work, sir. It’ll pay off soon.
Yep. That’s eight. Does the slump imperil Bruce Boudreau’s job? Don’t know. But it’s hard to fault BBBB when the players are so clearly not playing the system. The defensive breakdowns and sputtering breakout and the turnovers in neutral off of diagonal passes evidence that. Two crucial players (Semin and Schultz) are out with injuries or illness, and that might qualify the losing streak as well.
The passion the Capitals players showed in that epic but ultimately frustrating third period reveal that Bruce can still get them to play with their hearts and heads. So there’s that.
The Capitals cross the border to face the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night. Who will show up: the first period Caps or the third period Caps? Cause it’s the latter, this slump is going to end in a blowout.
Additional reporting by Neil “Waddles” Greenberg.