Sharpen Your Knives, Jets beat Caps 4-1

Marianne Helm

Fittingly, the most awkward photo of Ovechkin available. (Photo credit: Marianne Helm)

The last time the Washington Capitals played hockey in Manitoba, Steve Konowalchuk scored a hat trick. Tonight’s game with the reformed Winnipeg Jets had a lot of fanfare preceding it, which makes what happened even sadder.

Off Brooks Laich’s pass, Alex Semin wristed the game’s first goal from a harsh angle. Evander Kane used two quick touches to beat a trio of Caps and tie it up. Joel Ward didn’t clear the defensive zone, turning over to Kane who potted his second of the night with a lightning fast shot. Brooks Laich missed on his shorthanded chance, leading to Blake Wheeler’s goal and a 3-1 lead for the ‘Peg. Hot-hand Kyle Wellwood tapped in the Jets’ 4th goal on the powerplay. Jets beat Caps 4-1.

  • After this game, Evander Kane has 7 goals and 2 assists in last 5 games against the Caps. No one wants to leave the Southeast Division less than he.
  • The Jets are playing in the same barn the Manitoba Moose occupied, MTS Centre (capacity: just a smidge over 15k). It’s a small place, but those damned Canadians filled it up with some noise. We heard a lot of “Go! Jets! Go!”, the compulsory Ovi boo, and even one “Boudreau” chant. Losing sucks even more when the other team knows how much it’s winning.
  • Michal Neuvirth is having a statistics problem. Entering the game he was 3.14 GAA and .891 Sv%. Winnipeg’s three-goal second period made it even worse. 27 saves on 31 shots, including bailing out Jeff Schultz’s bad turnover late in the game.
  • Watch John Erskine vs Chris Thorburn:

  • The bleeding does not stop there. In addition to his goal, Alex Semin was issued an unsportmanlike conduct penalty for mouthing off to a ref about an uncalled interference penalty. Notch up the PIM counter to 26 and begin smelting a statue. #CthulhuSasha has minor penalties in six straight games, a personal best. Congrats, bro.
  • Brooks Laich has been doing yeoman’s work of late. He had 7 shots last game and served on the blueline the game before. That said, his 2-on-none breakway with Jeff Halpern, resulting in a five-foot shot that missed the net, precipitated Winnipeg’s goal flood. Ian points out that had Laich put it the puck on net, the ensuing Jets breakaway could not have happened. Gotta sink that one, Brooksy.
  • There’s probably a joke about Alex Semin serving Michal Neuvirth’s tripping penalty. I don’t know what the joke is, because all laughter has been sucked out of the world. It probably had something to do with doing the crossword or jigsaw puzzles. You fill in the blanks.

There is no part of the Caps game that is clicking right now. Not defense, breakouts, zone entry, cycling, man advantage, or two-man advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are systemic issues in the organization’s skate-sharpening or water bottle protocols. But above all else, there’s this: the Caps haven’t been owning the puck. Some guy named Neil Greenberg harped about this a few games ago, and now we see it in practice.

Joe B suit of the night

The Caps have lost 4 of their last 5 games. They share the division lead with the Florida Panthers, which is less a team than a compost pile that also plays hockey. The NHL power rankings have the Caps plummeting harder than [every politician]‘s approval ratings. As good as this team was out of the gate, they are now equally bad.

This does not mean the Capitals need to make a dramatic change, or that the Trade X / Fire Y  trolls should feel any fraction of vindication. It just means that the team needs to try harder. Their game needs to be simplified, refined, and enacted with discipline. And above all else, they must crash the net.

Know @GreenLife52, know win. No @GreenLife52, no win.

See you guys Saturday night. Don Cherry is going to rip us a new one.

  • Ben

    “Trade X / Fire Y  trolls should feel any fraction of
    vindication. It just means that the team needs to try harder. Their game
    needs to be simplified, refined, and enacted with disciple. And above
    all else, they must crash the net.”

    I don’t think it’s trolling. We’ve been saying they need to do those same things for three years now, under the same head coach, who has failed to get them to do those things.

  • Pattyo

    Poor Neuvy………. he deserves a better team!!

  • Peter

    That coach has the second-best win record in NHL history during that time span.

  • http://twitter.com/ianoland Ian Oland

    I just want to get this out there: I thought Boudreau coached one hell of a game tonight. He called a TO at the perfect time. He switched out Neuvy for Vokoun to get this guys a breather for a 5-on-3. He gave his players everything they needed to succeed tonight. He can’t score for Brooks Laich on that damn 2-on-none, he can’t magically make Hamrlik or Schultz skate faster. Let’s not overreact. This team racketed off seven wins in a row to start the year. They will get over this.

  • http://twitter.com/ianoland Ian Oland

    And oh yeah, GIVE ORLOV A GAME! Might be the shot in the arm this team needs right now with Green out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bagher BJ Ghassemieh

    someone please send Schultz off to the KHL or something.

  • Ben

    And how has that translated to the post-season? I’m not saying he’s a bad coach per-se, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have the team’s ear right now.

  • http://twitter.com/kat326 Rachel Cohen

    If I could like this again, I would.

  • old scratch

    well, you can’t win ‘em all. 

    we probably ought to try scoring some goals or something, though.

  • http://twitter.com/DCRothman David Rothman

    Disagree. The line juggling continues to be absurd. And when they switched it Vokoun for the breather, they should’ve left him in there. I wouldn’t say any of those goals were really Neuvy’s fault, but on a better night he could’ve stopped 2-3 o them.

  • http://twitter.com/DCRothman David Rothman

    Can somebody please tell me why Perreault continues to be a healthy scratch? Did he piss in Brucie’s cereal? Wasn’t the 4th line of Perreault-Halpern-Hendricks kind of awesome?

  • http://twitter.com/DCRothman David Rothman

    But agree to giving Orlov a game. I think Hammer should be benched a game or two…hopefully for sucking temporarily and not for being too old.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MVET6SE4RSAXJNYPRF233CXWKM Sam

    Trade or do something with Hamrlik, you could argue the same thing for Schultz. I’m a huge advocate for not immediately saying “trade this guy” or “fire that guy” after a couple losses, but Hamrlik continues to play poorly. Switch the lines back to what they were for the first couple games, and Boom, they’ll start winning games again

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3702126 Gordon Arsenoff

    which doesn’t tell us anything about the coach as distinct from the talent playing for him, because that coach has only led one team during that time span. To answer the question of “Hey, wouldn’t some other coach get more out of this team than Boudreau does?”, we need more information than there is in a W-L record.

  • Brittanycummings

    Hello there’s still a season the Trade X / Fire Y  trolls shut up please your the 99% of the fan base that make people dislike the caps 

  • Tojohnson12

    Yeah he deserves better than a team who’s had the #1 seed in the East the last 2 years.
    The Caps are playing bad right now, but slumps happen. We’ll get out of it.

  • Daniel

    This team needs a left d that isnt slow as molasses in the worst way.  They look like they literally have no clue how to even breakout anymore.  Bring back Carlzner, waive 44(the guy looks like he doesnt even know how to skate out there), bring Orlov up, and pray to the hockey gods that Green comes back healthy.  

    Honestly, it seemed like I went through a time machine back to 2004 tonight.  This team just looks lost in the worst way.  I’ve been a BB supporter for awhile, but I honestly think he has lost the team at this point.

  • guest

    people dislike the capitals because we are becoming the redskins.. every year its WERE WINNING IN THIS YEAR only for us to blow it in the playoffs for no apparent reason

  • guest

    semin is getting a lot of penalties of late.. more than usual the team as a whole looks sloppy and everyone is in the box often. but semin in my opinion is playing like he cares. its just leading to a lot of penalties

  • @CapFans1426

    This is one of the best teams on paper in the NHL.  .  .  HANDS DOWN! The pieces are there, like Peter said in the post.

    “It just means that the team needs to try harder. Their game needs to be
    simplified, refined, and enacted with discipline. And above all else,
    they must crash the net.”

    And yeah, a #1 seed the past two years, it doesn’t get much better. . .

  • Anonymous

    can i just say that screen cap does not fully capture the greatness of joe b’s suit from last night? thx.

  • Jesshughes

    I’m trying to keep up a good front here, but I’m starting to wonder when we push the panic button.  I agree that BB did all he could last night (TO, change goalies), but at a certain point guys making a lot of money to play a game have to respond.  I mean, after last week’s pathetic efforts against NYI and NJD along with the meltdown against NAS, don’t the boys dig deep and play hard???  I’m not a stat head but haven’t the Caps scored something like 9 goals over the last 5 games — less than 2.0 goals/game ain’t gonna do it, no matter who’s on the blue line or in the net.  That being said:  Go Caps!!!  Maybe the breakout game is on Saturday night.

  • Stardragon66

    Now,now-there’s a silver lining here. If  our Caps keep playing like this, we’re sure to get the first draft pick.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not quite ready to start dousing the team with gas and lighting a match quite yet but simple things like calling up Orlov, benching Hammer and maybe developing some slight lineup consistency would help. As someone who has coached a similar sport over the last year, there’s only so much you can do when you look at your line and you can see in their eyes that they just don’t care and are unmotivated. That’s beyond Bruce- it’s gotta come from these guys. They keep talking about playing with heart, but it’s just not showing up beyond media quotes.

    On the flipside, I am entertaining a conspiracy theory that there is some kind of bet between Semin and Hamrlik on PIM this season- some sort of high stakes crazy rich guys bet where maybe the winner gets a golden penalty box for their home filled with cash.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    trade Hamr, trade Shultz, Trade Sasha, fire Boudreau. Cap problems solved (figuratively and literally), shake-up complete. And yes, Boudreau needs to go if he can’t coach his team. That is absolutely his problem.

  • Peter

    When you say “trade X” or “fire Y”, you’re offering only half of the equation. Who is the replacement? What is the yield? That you’re so cavalier and strident about an idea so foolish reveals a level of intellectual laziness that would humble most people away of commenting. But hey, congrats to you for the bravery to be stupid in public.  

  • 28ISGREAT

    Where does accountability start?   I say at the top. Period.

  • Daniel

    You act like there are no coaches out there that we could hire.  Kirk Muller is one of the first that comes to mind.  As far as Schultz/Hammer, I would love to see both gone, but realistically only one is going anywhere unless we can trade one for an NHL caliber defensemen.  If we trade one, we could call Orlov up.  He might not be 100% ready for playing at an NHL level, but at this point he brings puck movement which we desperately need.  

    Newsflash:  This happens every year.  I don’t even see this as a slump.  This team is being poorly coached.  Is it on BB to actually be on the ice helping with breakouts?  Of course not, but you would think that the coach could get SOMEONE on the team other than Green to actually know what it means to exit the freakin zone.  I’m not disagreeing with you and don’t necessarily think a major shakeup is needed quite yet, but this isn’t just a slump, its a pattern.  This team is completely devoid of any motivation, and thats on Bruce.

  • Peter

    Does that mean Boudreau, McPhee, Leonsis, Obama, or God? Btw, it’s redundant to say period after you USE a period.

  • Peter

    I think Eakin getting played last night was more of a hometown thing. I think we’ll see Perry on Saturday unless there’s something else going on behind all his scratches.

  • Peter

    Hamrlik was plus-9 Corsi last night. The team was objectively better when he was on the ice. Yeah, he’s slow and has taken a few bad penalties, but he’s not bad at all.

  • Peter

    Katie posted about this on WaPo today. Orlov has a 900k NHL contract, and we’re already scratching the salary cap. I don’t know the $$$ stuff very well as you know, but that might be a mitigating factor. 

  • Peter

    How would you measure a coach’s success? 

  • Knublesknights

    except that the Redskins don’t make the playoffs

  • Peter

    I will tolerate a lot of nonsense in the comments, but comparing the Caps the Redskins is just freaking unacceptable. wakka wakka 

  • http://twitter.com/TheHornGuy Sam Wolk

    I’m not amazed by the sheer give-up-itude that Caps fans are displaying, but I am disgusted by it.  It’s f@#king NOVEMBER.  Get a grip, people.

  • http://twitter.com/drew_tomlinson Andrew Tomlinson

    So who exactly will want Schultz and Hamr? Would you acquire them if you were a team? Would you think they are a solution? If you want to truly acquire someone to help the team, you need to get something real back in return. In order to do that, like it or not, Holtby, Neuvy or Vokoun are likely going to have to be dealt. 

    No one wants the Caps hand me downs. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/bagher BJ Ghassemieh

    You have a point, but we also go through the same thing every season making excuses for this extremely talented team that continues to under-perform and underachieve. 

  • Daniel

    A team as stacked as this one has literally no excuse for the way they’ve been playing.  All things considered, I’m sure this team will make the playoffs.  We might even win a series or 2, but a team this poorly coached won’t win a cup, period.  

    I’m just saying, this team is about ready to fall by the wayside in the SE division, not to mention a surprisingly competitive east.  You guys need to stop making the excuse that BB has such a good winning percentage/number of wins.  Its glaringly obvious that he no longer has the locker room and is floundering.  

  • http://twitter.com/TheHornGuy Sam Wolk

    It’s part and parcel of being a fan of any given professional sports team.  You take the bad with the good or you move on and find another hobby.  If folks cannot handle the inevitable badness, then maybe fandom isn’t for them.

    I’m no apologist and I’m not immune to the malaise that a string of losses and shitty play can engender.  However, I know enough to know that the negatives we’re all seeing are not the product of poor ownership, poor management, or  poor coaching.  The players have been playing outside of their systems too often and those little mistakes have added up to some games that have been hard to watch.

    This team, as assembled, is highly skilled but still human; they’re going to go through grinding days and others that seem easy by comparison.  But think about this when you hear about what is being suggested: when have we ever seen the Caps win seven in a row to begin a season?  Never.  It’s never happened.  

    There’s something there that is festering under the surface of all these losses.  It’s the mentality that forces one to pull oneself out of despair and get back on track.  It happened last season after those 8 losses in a row.  The Caps were 30-11-7 for the rest of the season after that.   That’s not bad considering people were shouting these same nonsensical, poorly though ideas a year ago.

  • http://twitter.com/drew_tomlinson Andrew Tomlinson

    Sure they went 30-11-7, but where did it get them? A second round playoff sweep. 

    Playing outside of the system too often seems to happen in the big games and in clutch time and it is a symptom of a larger problem. Whether it is leadership, coaching, who knows, but there is something there. 

  • over_head

    I would not say it is giving up to identify problems with the team and suggesting possible solutions. I have never led a major sports organization so I cannot speak specifically to how problems should be solved with any authority. That being said, there are a couple of things that should be clear to anyone that has watched this team over the past four seasons. This team has consistently under-performed at very critical times. They often show a lack of effort (IMO) and also appear to be completely “lost” for long stretches of games or groups of games. IMO they are showing signs of that exact same behavior….again. 

    If I ran an organization that did just about anything and had a very talented team that exhibits these traits at some point I have to find a new leader for them. They have shuffled players in and out, they have tried new “systems” etc. What is left? In listening to player interviews lately I get the impression that they are a couple of steps away from starting to point the finger at each other, the in fighting thing. Once that starts it is all over anyway. 

    Like I said, I am not a hockey guy. I have no idea who should be fired or who should be hired. IMO something needs to change because these negative patterns keep repeating themselves over and over again. 

  • http://twitter.com/TheHornGuy Sam Wolk

    They got swept because (A) Roloson was on FIRE, (B) Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 trap is amazingly effective (see: Flyers just standing there because they got so frustrated by it the other day), and (C) injuries prevented the Caps’ high-talent players from giving it their all.   

    When the players stick to their systems they WIN.  Like, almost EVERY GAME.  If not they compete at a high level and make it harder for the opponent to win.  

    These guys will bounce back.  10-6-1 through17 games is not indicative of anything but a winning start when taken on its own merits.

  • http://twitter.com/TheHornGuy Sam Wolk

    Glaringly obvious?  I’m so relieved that you have such unique insights into what’s going on in the locker room.  And thank you for sharing your insider knowledge with the rest of us.  OMG LET’S FIRE GABBY AND MCPHEE AND MAKE LEONSIS SELL THE TEAM TO SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT’S UP!!!!111

  • http://twitter.com/TheHornGuy Sam Wolk

    I agree that identifying problems and suggesting solutions does not equal giving up, but when those suggestions are poorly conceived and ridiculous it does no one any good.

    “This team has consistently under-performed at very critical times.” That Winter Classic is a great example of this.  Oh, wait, nope, they won that one.  In convincing fashion.

    Look, something must change.  That thing is the Caps executing to plan.  It makes win.  Fo’ sho’.

  • over_head

    Not to be too negative, but the Winter Classic was just a snazzed up regular season game worth two points. A big stage for sure, no doubt. But, not the same pressure as the playoffs, IMO. They lose the winter classic it sucks, but it is not the end of the season. 

    I was careful to say I am not an expert (Andy Sutton nightmares), I just think something has to give. I have no idea what it should be. Were I leading the organization I would be looking for a change. Because I have no idea how things work “inside” the hockey world, I have no idea what that change should be. 

  • Ben

    So you acknowledge the need for change, which I think many can agree with. What can they change? They brought in new players for the bottom six. They’ve added grit. They added D depth.

    So it’s not the roster.

    It has to be the coach.

  • http://pucknhockey.com Eric Rigsby

    …and that is exactly the problem with your “argument” and every other casual Caps fan argument for changes. You have no clue what is wrong with the team.

    Sam is exactly right. It is on-ice execution that is killing the Caps right now. Some of it is luck. Some of it is motivation.

    The bottom line is this. The Caps had a superb October. They are having an awful November. This is what happens in hockey. Ride the wave or get off.

  • over_head

    I did not say I was a casual fan, I said I am not inside the hockey world. What I mean by that is I do not work  and have never worked for a team and had to make these type of decisions. Unlike many others I do not pretend to be an expert in something I may not really understand or that I have never had to do myself. I play hockey and have since I was a kid. I have been a caps fan since 76, seen plenty of hockey. 

    My opinion was this latest stretch is not an isolated incident. Their sloppy play, lack of structure etc is often a sign of bad coaching or a coach that is no longer getting through to the team. I could be wrong about that, just an opinion. I fully understand what happens in hockey, and that is why I believe something has to change. 

    The Caps won lots of games in October, but IMO they rarely played a complete game. I can think of 2 games. They won on talent alone. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about this sort of thing. 

  • Anonymous

    How?

    1. I would answer this question: Is Coach X getting the most out of his players?

    2. Look at Playoff success

    Bruce fails both.

  • Anonymous

    Schultz is far from the biggest defensive problem.

    Roman Hamerlik would like a word.

  • Anonymous

    Um, the R*dskins rarely make the playoffs

  • Anonymous

    Someone wanted Milan Jurcina one time.

  • Anonymous

    I am almost speechless w/r/t to Semin.

    “ship him out ASAP” is the only rash decision bandwagon I’m on.

  • over_head

    Semin was right to be pissed, he was pulled down to the ice. The ref missed that one big time. I would like to know what he said or did that caused the ref to give him 2 minutes. Anyone have an idea?

  • 28ISGREAT

    Considering Boudreau is now Mr. Accountablity, I mean him.  I just don’t think he’s the guy to take this team across the finish line.  Period.

  • 28ISGREAT

    Whatever it was, I’m sure it was lost in translation.

  • Pingback: Semin’s Lifetime Achievement « C.A.P.S.Love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    The problem is, as soon as they think the game is over they stop playing, and that’s whether they’re winning or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    Trade every single one of them that doesn’t care. If they don’t care, they won’t win. If they don’t win they shouldn’t be here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    It doesn’t matter who wants them. We have rookies that would play better than they are. I’m sick of watching terrible passes and defensive breakdowns. Waive them so we get cap space, I don’t care at all at this point. Defensive breakdowns are the ends of games. We’ve seen it already this year and we saw it against Tampa last year. If you all want to keep going around saying everything is fine, because you’re ignorant (or naive) of how to win playoff hockey, go for it. They are losing for a reason though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    Keep in mind that Schultz and Hamrlik have  $2.75mil cap hit, and $3.5mil cap hits respectively.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    At least I offer a solution. I would love to hear your suggestion. (Look, I didn’t even have to be rude or attack your character in a response! It’s almost like I’m a respectable human-being!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    It’s radiant beauty almost gave me a seizure!

  • Hockey Nut

    I agree about Semin.  He actually had a good game last night, and has been playing well and more consistently all season.  He is just in in a goal scoring slump right now.  Most of his penalities appear to be soft, too.  He is not the problem with this team and we will not be traded. 

  • CDizz

    rabble rabble rabble