That Just Happened: Canucks beat Caps 4-2

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Sorry. Had to cheer myself up somehow. (Photo credit: Macaulay Culkin)

Did you think Wednesday’s shutout loss to the Lightning was the nadir of the Washington Capitals’ season? Or maybe it was the 7-0 loss to the Rangers? Tonight’s defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks might give those games company in the Awful Game Pantheon. Friends, these are the dark days. Feel free to stop reading now. Won’t hold it against you.

Matt Hendricks turned a great pass from Boyd Gordon into the night’s first goal. The Canucks combined Alexander Edler’s slapshot with a few screens to even it back up.  On the power play, Christian Ehrhoff found an open spot in the slot to give the Canucks the lead, which they expanded via a giftwrapped breakaway for Daniel Sedin. Marcus Johansson gave Caps fans a fleeting delusion of optimism halfway through the third period, but the Caps didn’t catch up. Daniel Sedin snatched an empty netter, and that was it. Canucks beat Caps 4-2.

  • Scoring chances were 14-19 in the Canucks’ favor. That makes the Capitals 40-60 in the last three games. Not only is that not Cup material; that’s not playoffs material.
  • Alex Ovechkin, (3 shots, 0 goals) booked 10:41 of ice time in the final period. Aside from a few nice passes, he was a non-entity. Well, that’s not true. He did throw his hands up in effete tantrums whenever the referees didn’t provide the penalty whistles he demanded like a petulant child.
  • Thank you, Matt Hendricks and Marcus Johansson, for demonstrating the last bastion of offensive give-a-shit-ness left on the Caps.
  • We’ve been playing “who’s a liability” lately, but there’s too many to name tonight. Let’s do the opposite. Brooks Laich (3 scoring chances for, 1 against) and Mike Knuble (4 for, 1 against) were our best players on the night at even strength.
  • Eric Fehr spent well deserved time on the top line where he was roundly ignored his mates Nick Backstrom and the not-so-great 8. He attempted only one shot (a miss) over nearly 14 minutes of time. He missed a good chunk of the game’s ending after a white-on-white incident with David Steckel.
  • 19 scoreless games for 19.
  • Three power play chances. Zero results. Apparently the right people did not read Neil’s great piece in the Post today?

Man, this post-game press conference with Bruce Boudreau is like a funeral.

Joe B's suit of the night

Joe B's suit of the night

We joked about panicking before, but now I’m not so sure. Neil thinks some personnel changes need to be made. Mathieu Perreault ought to return to Hershey [UPDATE: I misinterpreted Neil’s comment. He suggests trading MP85 after bundling him with another HBH-er. I’m sorry for the error. – Peter], and some fresh blood among forwards is needed. I don’t disagree with him. He’s probably right, but I can’t imagine the team having any lasting success until Nick Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Alex Semin shake the troop of monkeys off their backs.

February is a gauntlet: Montreal, Tampa Bay, and San Jose twice. If the Capitals can’t get their asses out of their heads ASAP, the season might be over sooner than any of us want to say.

Additional reporting by Neil “venison” Greenberg.

Post-script: Let’s do purge this game from our memories. In my opinion, R. Kelly’s “Bump n’ Grind” usually does the trick.

  • Annie

    …..Holy shit. ET scares the F**K out of me. I cant read this. sorry =/

  • deann

    What’s particularly disturbing to me is that we are getting beat handily by teams who played games the night before us. They always look to have the fresher legs than us.

    And I couldn’t agree more — Johannsen and Hendricks look like the only ones who appreciate being on an NHL team and playing hockey for a living. No real sense of urgency until it was late in the game.

    Still the same old power play. Bruce changes lines so often no one has chemistry and yet the same power play that doesn’t work continues unchanged.

    Frustrating.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja

    You forgot the quote of the night by Locker, “Boudreau has not changed the PP since he arrived 4 years ago.”

    Hmmmm …

  • abrlcklnthewall

    Watching the power play is far worse than watching them try to kill off a penalty, at least killing you think there is a chance that they might succeed. Ovie needs to get off the PP ice until he can find some consistency at 5-5. They just sort of seem to pass it to each other hoping that someone else will figure out what to do, rather than attacking the net, and all that other good stuff coaches talk about.

  • deann

    Exactly Sonja. But he’ll change up lines every 5 minutes — even when they are working.

  • http://youresovain-dailyvanityplates.blogspot.com/ Katie

    What disturbs me is that I feel like the organization is just accepting this as the status quo and telling themselves all our troubles are due to bad luck, bad bounces, guys holding their sticks too tight, etc. I always listen to the post-game show on my drive home, and Warner was really towing the party line tonight and got downright defensive when a caller suggested it might be time to start seriously considering a coaching change. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know I for one am tired of hearing all the time from Bruce and the players that we need to play a full 60 mins, we need to crash the net, etc. Stop saying it and fucking do it!! We have the talent. If the coach can’t motivate the talent to play like they mean it on a consistent basis, then it might be time for a new coach.

    People like to harp on those of us who are getting very unhappy by saying that you are supposed to continue to support your team even if they lose. That’s fine. But I’m tired of seeing the same problems night in and night out, and having those issues seemingly not be addressed. I pay over $8,000.00 a year for my season tickets. I think I deserve to see the team get up for at least 90% of games. I understand a bad night here and there, and I understand getting outplayed by a great team. But we’re not just getting outplayed by Vancouver; we’re getting shut out TWICE by the bottom of our division.

    I’ll stop ranting now. Bottom line: I’m tired of feeling like the effort isn’t there, and I’m tired of feeling like the problems are being ignored. I hate to think that we have to not even get a playoff spot in order for someone to wake the fuck up and do something.

  • Atticus

    You people are high if you seriously expected the caps to win. Vancouver are the best team in the league this year & I’m surprised dc kept it so close.

  • http://make-lemons.com Michelle

    i still think Wed was worse… but the PP needs to be “something-ed”…. telling to me…. Thursday certain PP personnel were missing from practice… so obviously the PP wasn’t “practiced or changed”…. that is a problem.

    Semin can’t come back soon enough………..

  • Josh

    I think the biggest issue here is lack of offensive zone possession. It seems like we spend so much time trying to clear, only to get down ice and dump it for a change. The times we manage to clear quickly, someone bangs it into the corner, defense recovers, and it’s back the other way. Another thing I’ve noticed recently is everybody is getting pushed off the puck way to easily.

    This business of waiting until the third period to decide to play has got to stop. At first, I was all in favor of this new defensive system because I feel it’s easier to quickly correct bad offense than bad defense. But now its getting ridiculous. No one is shooting, Backstrom holds the puck until he’s swarmed and forced to pass, usually resulting in a turnover. Green and Semin seem to fall at the most inopportune times. However, I don’t think the problems will be solved by bringing someone new in. We have the talent here to be a dominant team on both sides of the puck. Sending Matty P back to Hershey won’t do anything to benefit him or the team, despite the lack of scoring his tenacity and down right willingness to battle for the puck is one of the things we need right now. I did have to laugh when he was posted in front of Luongo in the net.

    I feel our defense is playing solid overall, a few mistakes have been capitalized on, but you can see it starting to gel. Carlzner is shutting down top lines, goalies are playing good enough that all the “You need a veteran goalie” criticism should be gone. Anyone that thinks goaltending is an issue now hasn’t been watching any games.

    Why can’t we run last years PP system with this years defense? The whole point of a PP is to score goals, so why not revert back to that run and gun style a couple times a game? Watching the PP tonight reminded me of little league basketball practice, where the coach would tell you “X amount of shots before you shoot!”

    That ramble being done, I think (hope!) the Caps will snap out of this. Really, I don’t think home ice in the playoffs carries the same weight as it does in other sports. Maybe barely scraping into the playoffs will be good for us (anyone remember a 7 vs 8 Eastern Conference Final last year)?

  • http://thesports007.com D’Ann – txstarsgirl

    I blame the Stars…the Caps have looked pretty much awful ever since that game. Why can’t both of my teams be doing well!?!? Gotta hand it to the Canucks though…they are certainly looking like the team that lots of experts had pegged to win the Cup this year.

  • http://CrzyJewishotaku.deviantart.com Rachel Cohen

    A few things I saw during the game tonight:

    Mike Green had the chance to make it 2-0, and decided not to take the shot. Head, meet desk. Or in this case, the purple seat in front of me. The only good defensive play he made all night…. and he gets called a penalty on it. Speaking of which…

    Refs. You were horribad tonight. Like, really really awful. Missed several very obvious call on the Canucks (though with the way our PP has been, probably wouldn’t made a difference, but hey. I like having penalties called on the opposition, who doesn’t?). McCreary, this is why no one likes you.

    On a positive, Backstrom was playing better than he had been playing for a while. Had a few really good opportunities, shots were aimed actually at the net, and his pass to MoJo was a beauty. I thinks it’s just a matter of time before he breaks his slump.

    Being ever the optimist, I haven’t lost faith in my boys in red yet. There’s still a lot of hockey to play. We just gotta cheer ‘em on, no matter what. At least… I know I will.

  • Colin

    What gets me angry more than anything else these days is the teams top to bottom willingness to take its fans for granted. Ted basically says he doesn’t care about the regular season as long as we make the playoffs. But many of us are investing good money and time rooting for this team and deserve a better effort in the regular season. If the season doesn’t matter, maybe then people will stop showing up until the playoff begin. I’m not sure that’s what Ted has in mind, but if they keep taking us for granted, then that’s what will happen.

  • BobbyG

    I’ll try to purge this game from my memory and quickly. However, here are a few observations before my mind goes blank:

    —I feel for fans like Katie who shell out big bucks for Caps season tickets and aren’t rewarded with consistent sustained effort. Either a handful of players show up, or else it’s the entire team that decides to play only one or two periods. That the players and organization bigwigs seem to accept this status quo is especially galling.
    —Michelle notes that certain PP players were missing from Thursday’s practice. No need to name names, I know without anyone saying who the usual suspects are. If players won’t practice, then for gosh sakes take them off the PP unit and try other combinations. Who said it’s insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome? Enough said.
    —Losing because the other team beat you is one thing, losing because you beat yourselves and/or were outworked and outplayed by the opposition is another thing entirely. In which category are the Caps? Do they have a leadership and/or motivation problem? I’m not sure I want to answer these questions, but they will have answers eventually whether the Caps are ready and willing or not.

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  • Bucky Katt

    When your scoring ability rests on Marcus Johannson, Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks..you know you got a problem. I think we need to start a betting board on when BB gets the hook. My guess is Feb 7th.

  • Colin

    @Bucky Katt – If the Caps cared about the regular season, I’d say BB has until the Thrash game on the 26th this month to right the ship. That would be the ideal place to bring in a new coach with the five day break for the All-Star game.

    But like I said earlier, I’m ticked that Ted has basically said in public that the regular season doesn’t matter as long as we make the playoffs, damn the fans if they don’t like it.

    Even as bad as we are playing now, it will take an epic fail for us to miss the playoffs since there are only 9 teams reasonably competing in the east this year. I don’t think any changes will be made because at some point, we’ll go on a small, if boring, winning streak and get enough points to make the playoffs all but assured.

    To put it in perspective, 90 points looks like it will be enough in the east this year. With 37 games left, we only need to go something like 15-17-5 to “achieve” Ted’s goal.

  • J.P.

    Random, scattered observations and thoughts:
    Hope everyone enjoyed the Winter Classic win, ‘cuz that’s lookin’ to be the only thing that’s gonna be accomplished this year.
    BB needs to go, and go soon. Hate to type that, but man, his unwillingness to change our number one liability, the power play, is pure, stubborn craziness. Factor in this team’s lack of motivation, lack of fight, and their inability to follow seemingly simple directions like “shoot the fucking puck and crash the net” and it doesn’t seem unreasonable for a change to be made at the top. I’m tired of hearing how the Caps didn’t come out and play hard for all 3 periods. Yeah, it’s a long season and there are certainly going to be some off nights, but they’ve already more than used up their allotment of “off” nights and the season’s only halfway over. That stuff’s all on Bruce.
    Our star players -vs- the grinders:
    Gimme double doses of the grinders, please. Those guys go for the simple plays that pay off: get on front of the net, get it on goal, make the goalie work, go for rebounds. Ovi, Backs, Semin (when he’s playing) are a confusing mishmash of too many fancy passes, too many broken sticks, too many predictable moves and not enough effort. If those guys are hurt enough – there are whispers afoot – to have it affect their games, then they need to sit awhile and heal up. If that’s the case, Bruce is accountable for not sitting them.
    Predictions:
    If this team is left as is, they’re outta playoff contention. W/out some changes these guys are gonna struggle to make the playoffs. The differential between the Caps and the teams at the cut-off point is frighteningly small and shrinking.

    Semin will be traded 2 weeks before the deadline. He’s probably the most trade-able player on the roster and the Caps need to strike while they can. Semin’s value goes down if he comes back and continues to struggle, so it makes sense for the Caps to move him while folks can still remember his early offensive fireworks.

    BB: He’s gone after the Caps don’t make the playoffs or are eliminated in the 1st round again – which, unfortunately, is how I see things playing out (sorry, I’m a pessimist). I think they’re gonna stick it out with him, but now would be the time to cut bait. Give somebody new a half season to stir things up.

    Damn, that all sounds dark and gloomy when I sit back and re-read it, but that’s how I see things. Hope to proven seriously wrong, and if I have to eat massive amounts of crow, then so be it; I’ll enjoy every feather-laden mouthful.

  • Rockin’ The Red in VA

    Please allow me to vent. . .

    The amount of problems this team is having right now seems to be getting bigger. Until last night the Caps seemed like a team that would show up for big games, and do the minimum required to win. Here’s what I noticed was wrong last night:

    1: Slow lazy advances through the neutral zone.

    2: Every time we had an opportunity take take the puck into the Vancouver zone we would lazily just dump it in and then glide slowly over to the bench for a line change.

    3: Speaking of line changes, THEY SUCK! We are slow to get off the ice and no one seems to know or want to get on ice for their shift.

    4: Power play, thought we were going to “blow this up” and start over. . . I’m still waiting. My PP crew would be: “Carlson (on point), Knuble (in front) Laich, Ovi (he can draw 2 defenders, and should open up some opportunities), and MP85″

    5: Crash the net, this is a fundamental task in the game, the goalie will give up a rebound and said “crasher” punches it in.

    6: Hockey is a 60 minute game, Uncle Ted and GMGM might want to put out a memo to the team regarding this. A hard 20 minutes on the night WILL NOT WIN GAMES!

    All this said, I still love, and support this team. We have the talent, and ability to win the Cup; right now the fire and drive is not there.

    Thank you for allowing me to rant. . .

    Go Caps!

  • Livia

    Last night, the Canucks were forechecking like madmen. When we had the puck in our defensive zone, there were always defensemen whirling around the ice, in front of the net, behind the net, leaving no time or space for organized breakouts. There were stretches where I thought the Caps did really well getting a few accurate, crisp passes up ice under all that pressure.

    On the subject of Ovie’s woes, a fellow hockey fan recently suggested that he might do well to start using a stick with less flex. If he’s using the same flex he did last year, his extra weight this year will make that same stick break more easily and render the stick too springy to allow him to handle the puck effectively.

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