Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT), Goalies’ Stats Say Thanks

hendricks versus downie

Matt Hendricks beats up Steve Downie blindfolded. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

The Washington Capitals hoped the Winter Classic buzz wouldn’t interfere with their hometown appointment with Southeast rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. With both teams sitting atop the division, the stakes were high, even if the game lacked the theatrics of Saturday’s Hustle at Heinz.

Unfortunately, the Caps couldn’t set off any offensive fireworks. After a sleepy first period, the red team started mounting a real effort, but they never beat 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, just acquired from the Islanders. In overtime, it was another vet, Martin St. Louis, who finally put a puck past Semyon Varlamov, a tasty rebound off Vincent Lacavalier. At least we got one standings point. Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT).

  • Props to Semyon Varlamov, he of 37 saves and steely groin, for the almost-shutout effort. After a shaky first half of the season, the kid is making real strides towards consistency. Tonight was a wonderfully varlicious performance.
  • 6 shots, 0 goals, 2 PIMs, 2 giveaways, countless minor gaffes. #BadSasha indeed for Alex Semin. After dropping two hat tricks on the Bolts earlier,  I was expecting a lot more from the guy. But expectations are like raindrops rolling smoothly off the freshly waxed hood of the sports car that is Sasha Minor.
  • On the bright side, the 26-39-83 line was competent in shutting down Steven Stamkos and his peeps. They allowed only two even strength chances against all night.
  • RMNB is a big fan of the scrappy Laich-Perreault-Semin combination, but we’re not immune to those persistent pleas for a solid second line center. Still, I’d argue that it’s just a matter of time until Marcus Johansson, with 5 scoring chances for and only 1 against, becomes the player we need him to be. Heck, he was 4 of 8 (50%) on faceoffs tonight.
  • Three more powerplay attempts without a goal and only 2 scoring chances. They even gave up a chance against. The drills aren’t working; it’s time to reformulate. Let’s try putting D.J. King on the point.
  • The game’s highlight, without a doubt, was Matt Hendricks‘ bout with NHL Miss Congeniality Steve Downie. After a fracas in the corner, the two dropped gloves. Downie pulled Hendy’s sweater over his head, but did not realize that Matt fights primarily using his sense of smell. Hendricks looked fine after the rumble, but Downie had to nuzzle up to an ice pack.

  • At 41 years, Dwayne Roloson is not a spring chicken by NHL standards. And though we can’t honestly say the Caps sufficiently crashed the net tonight, Roloson’s victory was still well earned. Let’s look forward to facing the old man next week, and then bury him in pucks and the crease-crowding rear ends of numbers 21 and 22.
  • Alex Ovechkin took 8 shots, had 3 blocked, and missed another 5. His line accounted for half (11 of 20) of the Caps’ even-strength scoring chances. But no goals. So what will it take to score? I recommend Mike Knuble drop him off at the goat farm with a serrated knife and some of his Zoroastrian sacrifice totems.
Joe B's suit of the night

Joe B's suit of the night

The Caps are now second in the division.

With a low-output performance like tonight, the Capitals should be delighted with the single point they took away. The Tampa Bay Lightning are clearly a formidable team and one the Caps will be dueling with until April. And that’s probably a good thing. Pressure from within the division will render impossible the sabotaging insouciance we saw last spring right before the playoffs.

We’ll see Tampa Bay next week. And by then, the Caps will know full well how to win: crash the dern net.

Catch you on Saturday night for a dance with the Panthers.

Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.

  • BobbyG

    Tonight’s game is an example of Winter Classic hangover. I was hoping the Caps would carry over some momentum from their victory over the Pens, but it was not to be.

    I agree, Varly played great. I like how the Caps have adopted a better defensive system to shut down players like Steven Stamkos. I don’t like how the Caps’ offense sputters, how the “stars” are not the team’s best players. Yes, the Lightning–and the Thrashers–will continue to push the Caps and compete for the Southeast division title. Competition is good, and should motivate the Caps to play complete games and not coast going into the postseason

    Question of the night: the Bolts play the Pens tomorrow night. Who will you root for to win? I know, this is a tough one. It’s picking the lesser of two evils, whatever that turns out to be.

  • Mac-daddy

    Ah yes…it was great to see the defense trying the trap to shutdown their big players was great. I bet its been a while since we’ve really had to start talking about points.

  • Missy

    “varlicious”..my new favorite word! :)

  • Hale

    Peter, I am a little surprised at you. How about some context? Yes, Semin had 2 giveaways, but you forgot to mention his takeaway in OT which led to the only scoring opportunity for the Caps in OT with a missed shot. Not only that, but the Caps had a total of 17 giveaways! Hannan, Alzner, and Steckel also each had 2 giveaways.

    So, 6 shots no goals. Ovi, 8 shots, no goals. Backstrom and Laich 3 shots each, no goals. Oh, the Caps had NO GOALS!

    The penalty, yes, sigh. Minor gaffes, so BAD! I do wonder though if something was up with his skates. He was falling more than usual and it seemed as if the blades were not moving as they should, which caused an imbalance.

    Expecting more from Semin? How about we all were expecting more from the team than to be shut-out? How about the same treatment you give to Ovi? Oh, right, he had no goals either on 2 more shots, but gee, one less giveaway. You weren’t really expecting another hat trick, were you? In case you hadn’t noticed, Saturday’s win notwithstanding, the Caps are not in Kansas anymore and Roloson is not on the Island.

  • BobbyG

    @Mac-daddy: I like the Caps playing better defense but please let’s not call it a trap! I despise the word! I HATE THE TRAP! It brings back nightmares of the boring Devils, Wild, etc. games of old. And…*drum roll*…it results in snoozers like tonigt’s game.

    I’d much rather the Caps play better defense via puck possession like the Red Wings. If they have the puck, they keep it. No turnovers or giveaways! If they don’t have the puck, they will do anything and everything to take it away from you.

    IMO playing good defense and offensive firepower aren’t mutually exclusive. I want the best of both worlds from the Caps–shutdown defense AND offensive fireworks. Is that too much to ask for in the New Year? It’s the halfway point of the season, time to see what lessons have been learned and what questions will have answers.

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  • http://make-lemons.com michelle

    I love Semin, and I will even defend the stick penalty (grabbing sac….blah, blah, blah…) but he played like crap last night.

  • Greg

    Hale, are you Semin’s agent?

  • Peter Hassett

    This is awkward because Hale really is Semin’s agent.

  • J.P.

    Question:
    Do the Caps require yearly eye exams for players? I’ve been wondering about that over the past month or so while watching Ovi and Semin both miss shots that we’re used to seeing them make. Vision starts to go in dribs and drabs in the early twenties, sometimes so gradually that you don”t notice it until you have an eye exam. Sometimes the simple things are forgotten or overlooked because everyone assumes that something like that is already being taken care of when maybe it slipped through the cracks somewhere. I had a friend whom I play volleyball with go through a summer of sand court ball where he was constantly hitting balls out of bounds – a problem that he hadn’t had before – and started having trouble passing balls – again and issue he hadn’t had before and it all turned out to be related to a change in his vision. Once he got his glasses/contacts he was back to his old self. Maybe it’s something as simple as that. Thoughts?

  • Peter

    JP, I attribute the failure to score on shots to low-quality shots from farther distances instead of myopia, but it is an interesting thought.

  • 28ISGREAT

    And to think I rushed home from the airport so I could get back in time to watch this game. If there were roses out to smell, I’d feel even more disappointed.

    Naturally, Im a huge Semin supporter – but – even I have to admit my boy needs to get his goal-scoring butt in gear. I for one blame the recently disclosed female paramour. The only drilling he should be doing right now is on the ice in Kettler.

  • Jenna

    Excellent points, Hale. Stand up and shout!

  • Hale

    HaHa, no, not Semin’s agent, just an erstwhile defender of the downtrodden ever since my mother labeled me public defender after leading the lunchroom strike in 5th grade. I totally agree that he’s got to get scoring again, like as soon as yesterday, last week, last month. It’s getting a little scary. But his stats, in fact, have him close to where he was this time last year. My beef is that the light always seems harsher on him and right now he is far from alone. The young guns are in a near epic drought. I also get a little peeved at people who project that he plays poorly because he does not care. What? He’s clearly trying, it’s just not working right now. For God’s sake, he was captured on video crossing himself several times during the Winter Classic. He’s struggling, just as are Ovi and Backstrom and Green. Everyone meditate on it! Channel your energy to them!

  • ksj

    As “off” as he looked last night during the 1st period, I thought he had several moments or shifts during the 2nd & 3rd period where he seemed to be finding his game. Also looks like he and MJ can develop some chemistry. Alas, it didn’t produce the 1 goal we could have used, but I will start channeling my energy.