Shutout Number Nine: Caps Embarrassed at Home, 6-0

Rangers score, win 6-0.

Photo credit: Rob Carr

The only good part about tonight: Neil's most recent Capitals Insider post about Ovi was included as part of tonight's Media's Notes.

The one bright spot: Neil's latest Capitals Insider post about Ovi was included as part of game's Media's Notes at Verizon Center.

Shutout and embarrassed by the New York Rangers. Now where have I heard that before? The Caps certainly did their best December 12 impression on Friday night, with the added twist of dropping the game in front of their home fans, who didn’t respond kindly.

“I am absolutely not happy,” said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I mean our fans deserve better. That’s three games in a row at home. You know, we deserved to get booed there. It’s not fun when you come home and you got the best fans in the world and you play like that.”

The first action in the contest came when Jason Chimera delivered a hard check along the boards to the Rangers’ Michael Sauer, who didn’t take well to Chimera’s rough play. After a little back and forth the two dropped the gloves with neither getting too much of an upper hand. Just under six minutes into the game the period got ugly for the Caps. It started when Mike Green and Derek Stepan went for the puck in the corner with Stepan catching Green with an elbow. The recently injured Green immediately hit the ice, clutching his head before heading to the locker room as soon as play stopped. Just seconds after Green’s injury Steve Eminger gave the Rangers the lead, as the puck knuckled past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. At 14:47 in the period Sauer got into the action again setting up Erik Christensen in front of Washington’s net, putting New York up by two. The Capitals would get a chance to rally when Alex Ovechkin skated down the wing, beat Ryan McDonagh, and fired a shot on Rangers ‘keeper Henrik Lundqvist as he slid down the ice on his rear. Sounds familiar, eh? This time, however, Ovi was unsuccessful.

In the second frame, things would only get worse for the Capitals. At 4:19, while on the power play, Christensen would pot his second of the night, set up by an excellent backhand pass from Ryan Callahan. The Caps in-game entertainment crew responded by playing “Unleash the Fury” much earlier than usual. But that did little to stop Washington’s poor play as later in the period Stepan would extend New York’s lead to four after a misplay by Neuvirth.

In the third, the Rangers put a five-spot on the Caps when Vinny Prospal flicked a wrist shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder. But that wouldn’t be it. Brian Boyle would extend the lead once again in the waining moments of the game. Are you still reading? Rangers rout Caps, 6-0.

  • More on the biggest news of night, the headshot Mike Green took from Derek Stepan. After Green cross-checked the rookie behind the net, Stepan raised his arm and struck Green square in the jaw with a hit in the corner. Bruce Boudreau said after the game that the Capitals young gun was “day-to-day” and that he will not travel with the team to Long Island. Concerning the blow, it was an unnecessarily aggressive play by Stepan and, some would argue, a dirty one as well. Boudreau, however, seemed indicate he was not of that mind. Regardless, one wonders why none of Green’s teammate stood up him, especially rough-and-tumble John Erskine, who had a front row seat on the play. Once again, the Caps best defenseman will be shelved, with Green only playing 2:25 of ice time since coming back from his last injury.
  • It feels almost wrong to single out one player for their poor performance tonight, but Boyd Gordon was especially bad in his 10:03 of ice time. Gordon was on the ice for zero scoring chances for while being on the ice for six against, four of which led to Rangers goals. New York’s second goal of the game, Christensen’s first of the night, was due particularly to his bad coverage in front of the net and his failure to back up his teammate. After Karl Alzner went for a big hit on Boyle in the corner, Alzner failed to get back to his position in front of the net. Gordon tentatively stayed in no man’s land and Christensen got the easy lay up.
  • Alex Semin took a stick penalty. Not much new there. Still, Sasha Minor’s ill-advised hook led to goal number three. The biggest shock? Boudreau sent him back out one shift later. Lesson learned?
  • If you’re feeling grumpy about Eminger scoring tonight just remember he was the guy the Capitals traded to move up in the 2008 draft, selecting John Carlson. Do you feel better? Didn’t think so.
  • Mike Vogel reports that the Capitals current streak of 38 straight games without scoring more than one power play goal is a franchise record.
  • Nicklas Backstrom took just one faceoff, an offensive zone draw against Brandon Dubinsky which the Swede won. Boudreau indicated after the game that Backstrom was simply too sore to go at it in the dot and added that he “showed so much courage playing” through his injury.
  • The chances of the Capitals being shutout by the Rangers 0-7 and 0-6 in two of out four games? 15,158 to one.
  • Alex Ovechkin looked like the only Capital who gave much of a hoot tonight. He had eight shots, six hits and had several dazzling moves, one of which drew a penalty. However, the turning point of the game could have been his failure to score on a 2-on-1 with Mike Knuble early in the first period. If his shot would have squeaked through Lundqvist’s seven-hole, the tide might have turned.
  • Worth noting: the Capitals only managed two even strength chances in the game’s final 13 minutes, down five goals for most of that time. They completely gave up down the stretch, instead of showing some pride. And when you put out an embarrassing effort like that, Verizon Center’s going to look like this.
  • Only four Capitals players (Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Matt Hendricks and Marcus Johansson) made themselves available to the media after the game.
Joe B. Suit of the night

Joe B. Suit of the night

This was simply an awful showing from the men in red.

“It is just crazy how many goals they put in against us,” Knuble said. “It is not fun for us. Is it something they are doing? Are they that great offensively? Or are we really breaking down? That is for all of us to decide in our room.”

“I think it’s probably the worst home loss I have been associated with in ten years plus,” said Boudreau.

Now, the team is left to pick of the pieces from this disaster and move on.

“It has been a little bit maddening for us,” Knuble said. “We haven’t been able to mount a sustained streak. We have had streaks in losses. We have sustained those, but not the winning ones. To gain ground this time of year you have got to throw two, three, four wins together… it is not who we are. We are better team than a team that loses one, wins one, win two, lose two. We are a better team than .500 hockey. That is for sure.”

Said Matt Hendricks, “Well, there are answers out there. We are going to find them.”

With only 20 games left this season, those answers can’t come soon enough.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.

  • Mily

    The look on Joe B.’s face really mirrors mine.

  • It was a very unhappy 25th birthday for Schultzy. 🙁

    But I will admit I am happy for Steve Eminger. That former Cap has never been one for scoring but he did it tonight. Steve E. is one of my favorite Caps players of all time. Sorry folks, it had to be said.

  • Avtopilot

    I am so happy, i сouldn’t watch this game…

    what a shame

  • Colin

    Glad I took my family to the movies tonight. True Grit, great movie and something this edition of the Caps sorely lacks. Unless GMGM can pull a rabbit out of the hat by Monday, I’ll have a lot more time for movies this spring. What an embarrassing display from what I’ve read. Do these guys have no sense of pride, no sense of obligation to play hard for their home fans? Shame on them.

    Maybe instead of looking to upgrade this deadline, we think about rebuild 2.0. Everyone but Ovie, Carlzner and Varly or Neuvy can be had for the right price. I don’t see a winner here. Lots of skill, but it ain’t working in the current configuration.

  • DarkStranger44

    Only problem if we do Rebuild 2.0, some of the long contracts would get in the way. But I know exactly what you mean. Should we hire a new GM before doing the next rebuild?

  • Don’t let us down, Colie!

  • Igor

    One more shutout, and we are in double digits… Has any team ever had that many in a regular season and still made the playoffs? Or is the East really that bad this year?

    And does Brads always have to wait until the next game to make his “you can’t hit our star player with a dirty hit” statement? And why does it always have to be Brads?

  • BobbyG

    Meh. When you aren’t scoring goals, you have to be defensively responsible. When you aren’t scoring goals and are defensively irresponsible, well, you get what happened tonight.

    Dubious distinctions all around. Still no PP goal for Ovie at home. Franchise record 38 straight games without scoring more than 1 PP goal. Ninth shutout of the season (will the Caps achieve an even more dubious distinction and lay a dozen goose eggs by season’s end?)

    IMO GMGM will have dto do more than pull a rabbit out of the hat by Monday. This Caps team requires an even more spectacular magic act, something along the lines of Copperfield transporting all the players to who knows where and re-materializing with an entire team that shows up night after night and plays a full 60 minutes every time. I guess that’s why they call magic an illusion.

  • DarkStranger44


    I don’t know what the all time record for teams getting shutout is. But the Caps’ record in that department is 12, set during their first year of existence when they were absolutely horrible. Last I heard, The Caps were getting shutout as much as the BAD teams in the league, like Edmunton.

  • TATA

    All illusions have to vanish . Something should be changed in the conservatory.. It isn’t enough to only move chairs . It’s necessary to replace a couple of musicians and the choir-master . Maybe it’s late already…

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  • Avtopilot

    i guess, there is no need to panic – this is the same team, that just got 6 points on a roadtrip.

    but it was a bad, lazy defeat, even in details – nobody stood up for MG52 and overall the energy was not enough for a team, that had 3 days of rest.
    It is a motivation problem – do they know something about 28.02 allready, that demotivated so much?

  • Mary K

    I’ve been a little out of it lately, but wasn’t it reported a few weeks ago that Joe B was “let go?”

  • Why are you all so surprised? This was to be entirely expected.

    When was the last time this team played a great game after THREE nights off? Plus two days with no ice time. The mistake was Boudreau’s for giving them so much time off without skating … one day was plenty, given this team’s history.

    The only surprise here is Green’s hit to the head with no penalty.

  • Em

    This team cannot have more than one day off between games. They get sloppy, lazy, and uninterested–sometimes even when they have NO days between games they look this way, but it seems worse the more time they have off. They lose motivation. It makes me want to punch puppies and set nursing homes on fire. So glad I missed this ridiculousness.

    And MG52 said he felt like sh!t yesterday, so why exactly was he in the line-up? Freaking A.

    Mary K–Joe B was let go from Versus. He’s still the Caps guy for Comcast, I believe.

  • @Igor Since lockout, only six teams have been shutout 10+ times.

    2008-9 LAK (12), COL (12) – neither made playoffs

    207-8 ANA (10), NJD (11) 2007-8 – both made playoffs and both were bounced in first round

    2006-7 EDM(10), CBJ (16) – neither made playoffs


  • deann

    I just can’t figure out how this team can play a game like they did against Tampa a few weeks ago where they did everything right as if they really had a hold on what they needed to do both offensively and defensively to win games. Then they come out and sh*t the bed. This team is bipolar in play. I wouldn’t expect every game to be like the Tampa or Winter Classic game, but how do you go from those type of games to these blowout games. We’ve certainly had our share this year of not only shutout but blowouts that were caused by sheer lack of effort. Is the coaching style of days off, optional practices, and apparently not much effort in the video room (by Boudreau’s own comments) killing the Caps and allowing them to be lazy? Because the only real reason I can come up wtih is that they are just an undisciplined team. I don’t buy into the “defense first” mentality has killed this team. Defense first doesn’t mean you don’t crash the net and not complete passes.

  • DarkStranger44

    I agree with Sonja and Em. I wondered why they gave the Caps so much time off from practice. I understand giving them Tuesday off since the team was stuck in Pittsburgh due to the weather. But, for the life of me, don’t understand why they got Wednesday off as well.


    Great night for my visiting Rangers fan father. At one point he deadpanned, “So where’s all this fury that’s supposed to be unleashed?”

    It was a humiliating experience. It’ll be awhile before I head back north.

    In the meantime, can someone PLEASE send a message to the Caps that beating the Rangers IS JUST AS IMPORTANT as beating the Pens? Or the Lightning? Or anyone else for that matter!

  • Igor

    @Neil – So, with 9 shutouts in 62 games, and 20 more chances to “earn” one, the probability of the Caps joining the exclusive club of 10+ shutouts in a season is approximately 95.7%… Great, we are in the two sigma territory now!

  • I ran a shutout sim a few weeks ago, and the Caps with their shots/gm and sh% numbers then should get shut out roughly 5-6 times a season (standard deviation I got was 2.27). So over the last ~20 games the Caps one would expect will get shut out once or twice. Book it.

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  • J.P.

    Embarrassing for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is that nobody stood up for Greenie. If the players are too clueless to exact a little revenge, then the coach has to greenlight the payback. Unfortunately, it’s another moment in a season-long series of poor coaching moments from BB. W/out a major trade before the deadline, or BB getting canned, these guys aren’t emerging from the quicksand they currently find themselves swimming in.
    The current incarnation of the Caps ain’t getting it done. And since they haven’t been getting it done all year, there’s not much hope of a meaningful post-season run unless something changes to shake things up. The talent level on this so-called “team” shouldn’t really be up for debate. It’s there. What’s not there are all the other things:
    Work ethic.
    In other words, all things related to team management. While BB has made some pretty good tactical decisions several times this year – the slowdown against Tampa Bay; the overall game simplification for the Winter classic – he’s been curiously bad with motivating his own team, and has been even worse with his lack of breaking up a pitiful PP unit that should’ve been blown the frack up months ago. Considering how many line changes he’s made this year, the heavy leaning on the non-functioning PP unit currently employed is very perplexing. We saw how last year’s team did w/out a PP in the playoffs, and yet we still don’t have one that works properly. Opponents will continue to take liberties against the Caps as they’ve nothing to fear while being at a man disadvantage. Not good.
    If something doesn’t change soon, these guys will be one-and-done, and BB and GMGM will be seeking the services of employment giant…….
    Sorry, I’m a glass half full kinda guy today. I’m desperately hoping for a turnaround but not really believing that it’ll happen. Oh, and perhaps someone should poke Alex Semin with a sharp stick to see if he’s still breathing…..

  • Greg

    Game was a disaster. Also, on the point of the chances of them being shutout twice by the Rangers… obviously that’s not true since they have a 1 in 1 chance of that happening so far, since it did.

    Statistics that project those type of things and stats in the future are pretty meaningless.

    I thought Ovie played great… Backstrom’s injury was clearly an issue, and Greeny getting fouled and the NYR scoring 2 seconds later with no penalty called didn’t help get the Caps going in the right way.

  • LJO

    This is an understatement, but NYR has their number this season. Normally, I watch a game in its entirety. If I can’t, I am checking the score. Had to completely walk away after the 2nd and haven’t even read the gamer. Everyone except Ovie looked like they were skating in quicksand with cement skates. If they cannot figure out how to workaround Nicky’s thumb, then he needs to go on the IR. It hurts more than it helps.

    So has anyone figured out what GMGM was studying so intently in his box last night during the 2nd intermission?

    That all said, I still have faith that this team will figure it out.

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