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.
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.