Penalty Parade: Panthers beat Caps 4-3 (OT)


The Swedish War Machine. (Photo credit: Joel Auerbach)

The Washington Capitals better get used to playing on the road. With 22 of their remaining games away from Verizon Center, the boys have to play with the discipline that was lacking tonight in tonight’s date with the Florida Panthers. The second consecutive meeting between the southeast rivals was decorated with twelve minor penalties, six apiece. But it was the Caps and their uncanny ability to place those penalties at the worst possible times that cost them the game.

The Panthers could have taken the Caps out entirely with three early goals by Santorelli, Reasoner, and Booth– two of those tallies thanks to two-man advantages. But the Caps rallied back with a pretty give-and-go and by Marcus Johansson via Laich and a Mike Knuble wrister off an Alex Ovechkin pass. MoJo struck again in the third with the tying goal, a crash-the-net maneuver that compelled Tomas Vokoun to bobble and release the puck into the net. In overtime, Mike Green’s hook put the Caps once more at a disadvantage, which Dennis Wideman exploited. Narf. Panthers beat Caps 4-3 (OT).

  • The power play was 0 for 6 tonight. This is no longer a problem; it is a crisis. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green have no problem cycling the puck below the blue line, but they’re incapable of creating scoring chances.  There were only three over 10:19 of PP time. Measly.
  • This bullet is dedicated to awfully timed penalties. Apparently dissatisfied with his crosscheck’s inability to ruin last game, Nick Backstrom chose tonight to board a dude during Mike Knuble‘s delayed penalty. That 2-minute 5-on-3 gave the Panthers their first of the night.  John Carlson and Jason Chimera activated their wondertwin powers to serve up a second 5v3 for the Panthers. And then Mike “Game Over” Green lived up to his name by blatantly hooking Cory Stillman after Cory had already been refused by Neuvirth. Disgraceful.
  • No hate on the PK unit though. 5-on-3 isn’t killing a penalty, it’s Pickett’s charge.
  • Mike Knuble‘s 501st career point also provided goals in back-to-back games for the 8-19-22 trio. That’s only the third time the “top line” has scored in consecutive games, turning what should be a normal occasion into an event as rare as the Leonid meteor shower.
  • Marcus Johansson, you meatball-eating qoH! Good work! The 20-year-old Swede had two goals tonight, one pretty and one gritty. He nearly tricked the hat, but Tomas Vokoun activated the nitro boosters in his glove hand just in time. Thanks for the point, kid.
  • Let’s play “who’s the liability?” Nick Backstrom: on ice for all three shorthanded chances against. Hershey call-up Brian Willsie: on ice for one scoring chance for and five against. Jay Beagle: four chances for and only one against. Dangit, Jay. You’re not a liability at all! Get out of this bullet.
  • Finally, Michal Neuvirth was awesome for a losing goalie. After not getting the nod for so long, New Bear didn’t hesitate to make huge saves when they counted. Giving up two to 5v3 and another to 4v3 shouldn’t keep Michal from sleeping well tonight. If the skaters worked as hard as he did, we’d probably be celebrating the first ever Ovechtrick right now.
Joe B's suit of the night

Joe B's suit of the night

The Caps probably didn’t deserve the point they took away from this game. They were way too awful for way too long to consider this a point well earned. A bad power play and a half dozen many penalties should sink  any team on the road. So while we’re glad that Knuble and MJ90 were strong enough to drag everyone to overtime, the overt loss might have been a clearer message to the team’s “passengers”.


If the Caps bring tonight’s play with them to face either Tampa Bay tomorrow or the Canucks on Friday, it’ll be a disaster. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being overly harsh on a team that has gotten a standings point in all of the last nine games, but they’ll still a shadow of their former selves on offense. And in the end, it really comes down to those two or three guys who are sleepwalking through the season.

Wake up, comrades. It’s a brand new year. Time to scoar.

Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.

  • miseenjeu

    I think MoJo and Knuble were strong, but Neuvy also deserves some credit for holding down the fort long enough for the Caps to tie the game.

  • Sarah

    Nice use of Strong Bad!

  • zac

    Take some positives. One of the attributes of last years team we all loved (and you even wrote about) was to never be out of a game. Down 3-0 tonight and after the first goal there was no doubt they would make it close, unlike earlier in the year. Progress

  • Peter Hassett

    Gah! @Miseenjeu, you’re right! The blog crashed right as I posted, and I lost my bullet on Neuvy! Stand by.

  • Another frustrating game. Getting the power play back on track would make a huge difference. Getting back enough half of the prolific offense (5 on 5) from last season would also make a huge difference. If at least one of those things doesn’t get going soon, I really worry about us down the stretch.

    Penalties killed us tonight. Isn’t FL the lowest ranked in the league on the PP? I realize that two of those goals were 5 on 3, which is very different than killing a 5 on 4, and one was 4 on 3, which is also pretty tough. But it’s demoralizing to give up 3 PPGs to the worst PP team in the NHL. I’m tired of the Caps making mediocre (at best) teams look good. Tired of it.

  • Peter Hassett

    Okay, Neuvy bullet is restored. And @zac, thank you for championing the team. You’re absolutely right.

  • GreenGuy

    When are the Caps going to figure out that cycling the puck around for the Ovechkin one-timer from the point on the power playis not going to work anymore? Everyone knows thats what the Caps are going to do.

    Instead lets fake the shot – instead, slap-pass to the low-winger and then feed Knuble in the slot.

  • Chris

    Well said. We stole the point. There’s a line in Bruce’s postgame interview that makes me think we may see new faces on the pp. Maybe even tomorrow. One ppg, we pull two points. As for the pk, we still seem good 4 on 4,5,6 so let’s keep the box single occupancy. For a positive, the Knuble and first Mojo goals looked right out of last year. I’m hoping that’s an engine sputtering back. We start scoring poetry goals, life could get good.

    Bonus points for an astronomy reference.

  • Peter Hassett

    @GreenGuy, any strategy that includes “feed Knuble” is a winner in my book.

  • What’s that definition of insanity? Oh yeah … doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result. It might be fun just for a change of pace to throw a different line out during the PP and see what happens … I can’t imagine it getting any worse. It could also serve as a wake-up call.

    On another note, teh hubs speculated this evening that something might be wrong with Ovechkin’s hand; the way he’s been wiffing passes and shots lately.

  • CarlyWasRobbed!

    1. How come the seven people in the stands aren’t even paying attention to the game? 2. WHY did Ovie pass? 3. Why the hell can’t he score? Isn’t he rich enough to buy a couple? Verizon should pay someone. I bet he knocked someone up… It’s gotta be a woman’s fault! Solid theories. 4. Time to scratch Ovie- it worked for Fehr! 5. Can they send Nicki to the Bears? Sorry Bears. 6. David Steckle did not call me, but I can only imagine how that would have gone… Did you hit that whiny B on purpose? No. You sure? Just say yes so we can see a grown man whine some more… :'( 7. Take Beags out of that bullet! He works harder than those millionaires! 8. Sadly, I didn’t miss Semin watching the puck go by tonight AND I promise to shut up after 9. Caps > Skins any day even when they lose in over time (Welcome all the new “Caps fans” that join us this time of year when the Skins burn out as usual. Love you guys!)… K now I’m done 🙂

  • BobbyG

    I hoped to see another Ovie highlight goal tonight to show he’s finally going to break out of his funk. Alas it was not to be. The cortisone shot or whatever it was that helped against the Panthers at the Verizon Center on Saturday did not translate to playing them in Florida.

    However, I’ll still accentuate the positive. The Caps stole a point, they showed resolve and fortitude by not giving up and coming back from a 3 goal deficit to tie the game, thanks to Neuvy shutting down the Panthers the rest of the way in regulation.

    However, I can’t totally ignore the negatives either. For a team that now prides itself on playing better overall especially on defense, the lack of discipline they showed tonight in their parade to the penalty box most likely will be addressed by Coach Boudreau. And giving up 3 PPG, one of them the GWG in OT, is hopefully only an aberration not to be repeated anytime soon.

    The Caps play the Lightning tomorrow night, a much more formidable team than the Panthers and the Caps second game of back-to-backs. This is another interesting matchup that should tell us a lot about them and what they’ve learned.

  • DarkStranger44

    At least they came back to score 1 point. The difference between this year’s group and last year’s group is that last year’s group would come back and WIN. This year’s group comes back and loses in OT. Baby steps!

    The PP is a disaster! Time for Bruce to use the grinders there. Or use the PP as a way to reward the people who are working the hardest. No automatic berths there to anyone, except Carlson and Green at the points.

  • barb

    taking cheap shots at a guy who wasn’t even on the ice last night is a sad and petty way to start the day. carly must read japer’s rink. i believe jp said almost the exact same thing about semin in his wrap-up of the game.

    well, it’s your opinion (and jp’s) so you’re entitled to it, and so is he. some of us happen to disagree with you though.

    if you want to criticize semin for not producing the same offensive numbers as last year (oh, wait, is he actually ahead of where he was this time last year?) then you also need to criticize ovechkin, backstrom, and green. because they have been sucking right alongside #28 for december and part of january. and grinders like laich and knuble are struggling too. other guys on the team as well. the whole team has been struggling. it’s not a one-man show. although marcus seemed willing to try last night. 🙂

    the criticism, like the praise, should be spread around.

  • Sonja – hand, or wrist, one.

    December’s Caps would have folded. These Caps didn’t.

    And there’s something to be said about having to spot the other team two guys TWICE to let them score on us… I mean, jeez, guys!

  • Also…

    If Johansson is a qoH, then Neuvirth is D’akturak!


    Peter – you’re not being too harsh at all. This blog shouldn’t become Pravda-lite – tell it how it is!

    And right now its exactly what you said – if we play like we played last night against Tampa Bay or Vancouver, we’re in for a beating not seen since – well – that last cold winter’s night in MSG.

    Though I do think Backstrom deserves some special attention – I mean what’s going on with him!? Why is it ALWAYS an extra pass with him – even when he’s steamrolling on net!? SHOOT THE PUCK NICKY! And those penalties – I mean REALLY!?

    Finally – I’d like to conclude by saying anyone that can find it in them to critize #28 following a game he didnt even play in is a special kind of hater that is in sore need of a 2011 kitten calendar.

  • Peter Hassett

    I criticized Tomas Fleischmann for not doing much for the Caps in that first game after he was traded. It was pretty fun then. I think JP’s joke about Semin was funny too.

    But you’re right, 28ISGREAT, about Backstrom. What is going on with him?

    It’s been 40+ games, and we’ve got at least two players who don’t seem to have started playing yet. And the plays they DO make are baffling. Backstrom doesn’t commit a lot of penalties, but the ones he does are MEAN and inopportune. A sad pattern emerges…

  • J.P.

    2 things:
    1. Backstrom may as well put on clown shoes, grease paint, a big-ass red wig, and join the friggin’ circus at this point, ‘cuz he sure ain’t showin’ up to play hockey. My family is sick and tired of hearing me yell over and over at the teevee to “shoot the damn puck, Nicky, just effin’ shoot it!” That damn teevee never listens to me and neither does Backstrom…..
    2. Time to put the Hershey contingent out on the power play. Those guys work hard every night and are more than deserving of a couple of three shots at it. They certainly can”t do any worse than Ovi and cohorts.

  • DarkStranger44

    @Barb & 28isGreat

    You guys were right on the comments on Semin last night from Japers and others. I agree it was a rather cheap shot comment at him — criticizing him when he didn’t even play. Yes, it’s one thing to criticize Semin but it’s not like he’s the only guy who’s been screwing up as of late. Ovi, Nicky, Laich, among other people. It sounds like Semin has dealt with quite a few ailments last month. And the word’s gotten out that Ovi has been hurt for a while, probably since the Nashville game. For Backstrom, we know he had the flu last month but I’ve heard rumors of a sprained ankle, as well.

    Memo to Sasha, Ovi, & Nicky: it may be time to do yourselves and the team a service by taking some time off to FULLY recover from your ailments. It’s one thing to play through an injury for a game or two games but it’s another thing to keep playing through ailments to the point of being ineffective.

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