How Not to Win at Hockey: Flyers beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

King Fights Shelley

King vs. Shelley: a portrait of pointlessness. (Photo credit: Len Redkoles)

The Washington Capitals quenched their wanderlust, beginning their 15-game voyage (only 5 stops at home!) with an evening hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers. The conference-leading home team sported their explosive offensive, keeping busy the Washington goalies all night. The Capitals, except for a 40-second spurt, had precious little presence in the offensive zone. We went to overtime, but we didn’t stay long.

91 seconds into the game, Michal Neuvirth failed to track Jeff Carter’s wraparound and allowed a goal on the night’s first shot. Claude Giroux doubled down against relief-goalie Semyon Varlamov by seizing on a second chance. In the third, Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble stormed Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease for a goal. 40 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin fed at the trough to tie it up. But in overtime, Jason Chimera gave Andrej Meszaros more than enough room to fire one home. Game over. Flyers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

  • Michal Neuvirth surrendered on the first shot of the night. A challenging save later that period might have aggravated his #brittlegroin. Semyon Varlamov relieved him in the second. Neuvy is day-to-day with a lower body injury. Braden Holtby’s beeper just went off.
  • Capitals were outchanced 16-23 by the Flyers. It was like the ice was on an incline. Ovechkin saw 10 for and 10 against.
  • This game was a lost cause until Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble crashed the net like no net had ever been crashed before. Philly netminder Sergey Bobrovsky was getting mugged, and he did the wise thing in handing over his wallet and not looking them in the face.
  • Alex Ovechkin tried to score every which way. He’d stun both defenders and then lose an skate edge, he’d fan on an elegant slapper, he’d glide across the slot and then get tied up with a Flyer. Nothing worked. He didn’t even have a shot until the third period. But his game-tying goal was the kind of perfection he should have been striving for all along. It wasn’t a paintable goal; it was just finding a spot up close (8 feet out) and serving up some grease.
  • Two goals, two crashed nets. It’s like we could make a motto out of that. Any ideas?
  • I can’t tell if Jason Chimera looked bored or confused during the game-winning goal. Either way, your shot leader (6) was a spectator.
  • Long-time scratch D.J. King grabbed 4:24 of ice time. Here are his stats on the night: 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-5. The five are obviously his penalty minutes, earned by dropping mitts with Jody Shelley only 19 seconds into his first shift of his first game in over a month. Why on earth did King even suit up? If goal production is your problem, King is never your solution. Name any Hershey call-up; he could do better.
  • Your bright light was Mathieu Perreault, who saw two chances for, two against, and won all of his six faceoffs. No Capitals skater had a positive scoring chance differential, but that’s what happens when you play like you don’t care for 59 minutes and 20 seconds.
Joe B's suit of the night

Joe B's suit of the night

The Capitals got worked over by a superior team: it’s hard to spin it any other way. They played 40 seconds of gritty hockey in an hourlong game. That they escaped with a single standings point (for the 6th time in the last 6 OT games) is evidence that the Caps are capable of Great Things, but man they are really stingy about sharing them with the class.

Is anyone else sick of complaining about the Capitals? The last thing we wanted was to be dour and sober and pedantic, kvetching about fundamentals and motivation in recaps. That’s why– when the Caps are up– we exalt them beyond absurdity. Not even just when they win. A loss met with purpose and fortitude is worth cheering too. But we’ve got nothing to cheer about right now.

Neil points out to me that the Capitals’ projected probability of winning the cup has been updated: 2.8%. That might be generous. Last year it was 20%.

Please. Please, give us something to cheer about.

Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.

  • Brian

    We have met the enemy and he is us.

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  • abrlcklnthewall

    It was nice to see them bounce back in the third, but the lessons of the past have clearly not been learned.

    Sometimes it just looks like their timing is a tenth of a second off, once it syncs up it will be dangerous.

  • BobbyG

    The thread title could have been “How Not to Prepare for Playoff Hockey”

    This is yet another in a long list of games where the Caps started slowly, letting the other team get the lead, and then have to stage a frantic comeback late in the game. Getting a point is good, but if they think they can get away with this in the playoffs, they are looking at the prospect of losing in OT in the playoffs where single points “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” My apologies to the screenwriters of “Casablanca” for the reference.

    Re: #6 in the Capitals Outsider Top Ten list of reasons for Ovie’s slump: IMO Ovie is saving himself but not for the Sochi 2014 Olympics or for the playoffs. Time will tell if my gut feeling and intuition are correct.

  • Rockin’ The Red in VA

    I’m not happy they lost. . . BUT part of me wishes they would have loss the Sens game too. The only way this team “appears” to learn anything is by getting the crap kicked out of them multiple times. With that being said last nights game has to serve as a lesson; that you cannot just play 1-5 minutes of hockey a night. It’s a team effort, win as a team, lose as a team. . .and us as fans are “part” of this team.

    Ahh fcuk it! I’m starting to ramble. . . on to Long Island

    Go Caps!

  • Josh

    Agreed, they play 15 minutes of hard hockey, not real fun to watch right now. Love the team but the passion seems to be missing or something.

  • Peter Hassett

    @BobbyG, I’m no longer convinced the team will make the playoffs.

    @Rockin’ The Red in VA, I’m with you on the learning of lessons by getting beat, but at this time points are precious. The Caps have one of the toughest stretches of the season ahead of them. That’s why an OTL like last night ends up being valuable.

  • Where did I read that BB won’t need to use video of the Flyers second goal last night because 5 of the Caps were standing around watching it anyway? Who was on the ice for that one … maybe Chimera was taking notes from them.

  • Jesus, I wish people would stop hitting the panic button.

    We’re ONE POINT out of the top of the SE division.

    One loss by Tampa Bay, one win by us, and it’s ours again.

    I do not give a flying rat’s ASS about lies, damn lies, or statistics. Fuck statistics.

    ‘Scuse my French.

    But I’m sick of having goddamn numbers thrown in my face.

    My EYES tell me the Caps are doing the right things and failing. Practice makes perfect; they’ll get it.

    Jeez, last year we were upset because the team was so far ahead. Now we’re in a real fight that MIGHT – just might – serve us in good stead, and everyone’s all “THE SKY IS FALLING OMG WE’RE GONNA LOOOOOOOSE!”

    Screw that too. I’m done with statistics, and I’m done with whining.

    As a very wise man once said, “NEVER tell me the odds!”

  • Actually … they’re not doing the right things and failing.

    They’re doing the wrong things and failing. It’s when they do the right things that they score.

    There are some very good reasons for concern at this point in the season. The biggest one is that this is a group of hockey players who wear the same jersey each night and occasionally skate in the same direction, but it is NOT by any stretch of the imagination a “team.” It’s a very talented, strong and young group of players … but until they coalesce as a team they are going to struggle.

    Their coach is floundering and clearly overwhelmed by the task at hand. Where do coaches go for mentoring? Has BB gone to someone? I surely hope so … because what he is doing isn’t working.

    These are organizational problems that cannot be fixed with a tinker here or there. They should have been dealt with during the summer and in the early part of the season. But were not.

    We may only be one point out of first place in our division, but there is no way this team makes it past the first round in the playoffs playing like this.

  • Brian

    @IRock It’s nice to hear from a satisfied fan, but I think we’re watching different teams. The reason people are pushing the panic button is that we do not see a team doing all the right things. If you watch the replay of Meszaros’ goal at the end of the game, Chimera just stands up, he doesn’t attack or try to get in his face. And most of that game was played in the Caps end. It’s a wonder they escaped with a point.

    The one point with which I will agree – they are only one point out of first, so they still have time to get it together. I’m still waiting for it.

  • Everyone needs to chill the fuck out, you people act like we’re tied with Florida for last place in the SE or something. The season is just a little half over and it was only away OVERTIME loss to the best team in the East, it’s not like Marty and his devils shut us out at our own barn. Lets face the facts, we’re still playing well and getting points without Semin, Ovie & Nicky playing to their potential. It could be a hell of a lot worse.


    I wonder how a line is expected to “click” – to find that all-too-elusive ‘chemistry’ – when the line combos get changed more than a baby’s diaper.

    And I also understand that if BB wasn’t changing lines, people would be complaining about that too.

    I understand this is a much more complex problem than line combos – but I think the constant line changes may be symptomatic of a coach who is out of fresh ideas.

    I too find myself wondering whether this team has any post-season hope.

    But I’ve invested way too much time this season to not hold onto that sliver of hope that they’ll hit their stride soon, and that it will carry them far.

  • Peter

    I’m glad you guys are passionate about it. I’m going to offer some context, and you can do with it what you want.

    A team’s performance is measured against its expectations. The Capitals are miles behind where they were expected to be. Or are people still talking about Ovechkin hitting 50 goals in 50 games? The Capitals started the season as odds-on favorites to win the Cup, now that seems like fantasy.

    The team is underperforming, and that is the reason for concern. That they’re still better than awful teams doesn’t comfort me. And the team isn’t successfully tackling the evident problems in the organization. That is what sends us into– not a panic attack, per se– but at least quiet reflection.

  • Jason

    I must have been watching a different game, because I thought the Caps came out working pretty damn hard in the first, and were for stretches quite dominant. That Carter wrap around should have never amounted to what it did. My brother was wondering how on Earth the Caps didn’t come out of the first with at least a 1 goal lead, and I was a bit in awe they didn’t score myself. The last time I saw them come out working this hard in the first was at the WC.

    What was a bit disheartening about the game was that right after they scored two goals in 40 seconds, based pretty much on shear will powe,r that they basically posed zero offsensive threat over the rest of the game.

  • J.P.

    Apparently the folks who think the Caps are playing well are watching the ALTERNATE UNIVERSE CAPS – the universe where Stan Lee coaches the team by remote camera from a hidden room in the Pacific Northwest that’s filled with hookers and blow while team leader SuperCapitalGuardianThing puts pucks in the net at will with just a heroic look – lucky you. The rest of us are suffering thru a team that can’t find enough motivation to play one (one!!) solid hour of hockey, instead preferring to show up for few minutes, pretend to look like a team, collect a check, and, and, make comments after the game about how they don’t understand why they can’t quite seem to put a whole game’s worth of hard play together. Christ on a purple friggin’ crutch! I’m tired of watching the team mail it in (excepting the Hershey boys) night after night and then have to listen to all of the misty-eyed, soul-searching afterwards like it’s some great mystery that they can’t quite solve on why they can’t get it done.
    Friend of mine drives a truck and listens to the games on XM/Sirius. Last night he listened to the Flyers feed and told me they made this statement sometime around the 2nd period (going from memory, so it’s not 100% accurate): “Folks, you’re watching a team that could/should dominate this division, just give up. They’re playing like they don’t care”.
    Pretty spot-on assessment if you ask me. Ya know, I don’t expect them to win every game, I do, however expect them to compete/play hard every game. There’s no shame in losing to a better team, there is shame in not even making an effort to play hard and correct mistakes.
    W/out a major trade/shake-up, I am starting to seriously doubt that this team will even make the playoffs.
    To those of you watching the ALTERNATE UNIVERSE CAPS, please enjoy the heroics, the rest of us stuck watching the REAL UNIVERSE CAPS are hoping that Bruce rents an apartment hidden in the Pacific Northwest and starts coaching by remote camera while enjoying copious quantities of both hookers and blow. It could only improve things at this point….

  • Peter

    So wait. Bizarro Stan Lee is into hookers and blow?

  • I think a lot of people like to chalk things up to bad luck and bad bounces. You see the moments where the puck is practically sitting on the line and doesn’t go in, and it’s easy to say, damn, we have terrible luck. But Philly had plenty of moments like that against us last night, but they still found a way to win. We know the right things to do, we just don’t seem to do them consistently, and I wish I knew why. This was another game where a portion of it reminded us how good the Caps can be….but still aren’t consistently.

    Also, why are we so damn bad at 4 on 4 hockey? We cannot seem to win in OT. It’s ridiculous.

  • J.P.

    “So wait. Bizarro Stan Lee is into hookers and blow?”

    Heh! Yeah, you’d think it would be regular Stan Lee, but he’s too obsessed with making cameo appearances in Marvel-branded movies to be into anything as mundane prostitutes and nose-candy.

  • Cathy W

    The coach and players say the right things after games, but never seem to learn and follow through. I am beginning to think they all got Ds in school. Waiting to turn it on until partway through the the third period is getting old. Now both goalies are injured. It is more than time to be concerned. I can’t click my heels together and close my eyes and pretend that the first two periods of several recent games did not happen because they played well during part of the third period or that everything will magically get better with optional practices. They have more road games in the second half of the season ans the injuries are mounting. Plus, we get to watch the roulette wheel that constitute the lines. I wish I could buy every excuse in the book, but I can’t because I have heard them all before.

  • GreenGuy

    Look at the bright side. American Idol is starting.

  • A very sobering analysis. And a bonus point for using ‘kvetching.’

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