Must-Win Game… Lost: Panthers beat Caps 4-2

Photo credit: Alan Diaz

The Washington Capitals have three dates with the Florida Panthers in February, and these games will determine their chances for a postseason. This one was a so-called “four-point game”, and the Capitals came up tragically short.

After a scoreless first period, Mikael Samuelsson faked a hardaround and then fired a shot to Neuvirth’s far side– hitting the post then net. It was a fluke-y, no-look shot from almost 90 feet out, but it caught Neuvirth being lazy, and that’s what matters. Brooks Laich tied it up with a feisty top-shelfer from the crease during 4-on-4 play. Samuelsson got his second of the night with the go-ahead goal on a third period power play. After a long adjudication, Stephen Weiss was awarded a goal that had been washed out at first.

John Carlson made it a one-goal game with a leisurely slapper from the high slot, but Shawn Matthias grabbed an empty netter a few moments later. Panthers beat Caps 4-2.

  • Mikael Samuelsson‘s 88-foot trick shot was stifling. Neuvirth blatantly misplayed it, and the Caps’ offense sort of retreated afterwards. After firing a respectable 11 count on net in the first period, they had only 7 in the second period. If you’re looking for continuity in the Capitals’ narrative arc, it’s that their offense meh-ness is still happening.
  • Brooks Laich earned his goal by beating Samuelsson’s stick check.
  • Then Samuelsson earned his second goal by beating Brooks’ block.
  • Jeff Schultz returned to active play for the first time since December 31st, but played a quiet game. No shots, no goals against, 9:48 TOI, and stout defense throughout. It seems there were no nibbles on the line when McPhee went fishing, so is Schultzy here to stay? It’s not like any other defenders are doing superbly under the new system…
  • No one will dance with Joel Rechlicz. He earned a lot of money for less than 3 minutes of play. Quick: what are some better ways to spend half a million dollars?
  • A for effort: Troy Brouwer (5 shots) and Brooks Laich (4 shots, 1 goal). And somewhere in the tri-state area, there’s a goat dreading the return flight of Mike Knuble (3 shots).
  • If you’re scouting against the Capitals these days, you’re probably saying stuff like “Stay mobile and quick in their zone. If you keep moving, they will lose you.” That’s the way it goes lately, the reason why our goalies have to perform superhuman feats to keep these games competitive. And that’s why we have close games despite the Capitals getting outshot by miles (70 attempts to 51).
  • Tomas Fleischmann has had a tough go of it lately, but he was dominating on-ice tonight. One assist, plus-14 Corsi, one crucial breakaway.
  • The Capitals’ road power play is 4th worst in the NHL, and they proved it tonight. John Carlson spoiled their first opportunity with a bad penalty after just 10 seconds. Poor puck control made the second one seem more like a Panther’s PP.
  • Carlson redeemed himself with some late-game heroics, but he choked just a minute later when he set up Matthias for the empty netter. The kid is in trouble, and there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

Joe B suit of the night

The Capitals are no longer in the conference’s top 8; they have dropped from 3rd to 9th. If they don’t change– significantly and soon– they will not regain that spot.

But here comes Ovi, who just served the third of his three-game suspension. And each new morning brings us a little closer to the Comebackstrom and what will be Mike Green’s Third Comeback of the season.

We’re not cynical, but we’re not quixotic. We want more from our team and their coach and their management. Every player on the roster has been a disappointment at some point, but there are 32 more opportunities for redemption.

Montreal on Saturday. It’s Hockey Early Afternoon in Canada and Ovechkin’s comeback, so, ya know. Prepare.

Crash the net.

  • Jim

    After all the bullshit times I’ve seen a goal waved off for goalie interference for the slightest contact with a goalie, how that no goal call was over turned is beyond me.  I’m unclear how a goalie can play a puck going over him if a player’s body is going over him as well.  Oh well.

  • Schiavsc

    I just do not understand why time, and time, again we put Neuvi back at the net when he is just so terrible.

    USE YOUR @#$@# SKULL HUNTER. HE IS RANKED 66 OF 77 ON SAVE %. HE CANT GET  ABOVE .900

    The question “What happened to our offense, WHINE WHINE WHINE?” is the most idiotic question.

    HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY GET OFFENSE GOING WHEN OUR GOALIE CAN’T MAKE A SAVE FROM CENTER ICE. 

    HE SUCKS. He is just a body sitting in the net, if the shot apparently hits him, thats save. If at some point he might have to move, its a goal. He’s 6-8-3-2……….
    6…
    8…
    3..
    2…

    And we decide to the play him tonight during one of the most critical games….

    We finish 10th place this season.

  • Peter

    He had a .939 even-strength save percentage tonight– which is just about par for the NHL. You’re wrong.

  • Peter

    I kept thinking back to Ovechkin’s goal in the MTL ’10 series getting washed out. Grumpypants.

  • Schiavsc

    It went past him before he was touched, but irregardless I don’t understand how a puck   can come right in front of you on the ice and instead of using his glove to cover it up it just sits there.

  • capslocked

    Irregardless is NOT a word.
    /grammer nazi

  • capslocked

    This is a bad drawing/photoshop thing of my feelings tonight: http://i.imm.io/fHBv.jpeg

  • Peter

    grammer is not a word

    /speling natsy

  • Schiavsc

    Last time I checked it was .918 for tonight……but IRREGARDLESS (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless) that means @#$SD  when your saves are inflated from the 30 that bounced off his lifeless body. 

  • Schiavsc

    didn’t see the EVG after you post. but still…

  • Pattyo

    Most disappointing team in the world. I suggest everyone start watching Hershey games!

    They can at least win with OR without their big guns.

    Fill in the blank(s): Dale Hunter is a ________ coach.

  • alpert

    For real, I cannot understand what swear words you are trying to use… Ahssd? Ahsah? Or are you just hitting keys to emphasize how much you dislike Neuvy? Seriously, please stop it. It’s confusing me. Please!

  • Shoquan1

    I just hate the Florida-based hockey teams, no doubt about it. I’m happy we finally have hockey back but the Caps need to win. They cannot make any more mistakes. Now in 9th place, I care more about the Caps making the playoffs rather than getting another silly SE title. I hope we don’t face the Panthers in the playoffs, it’s gonna be an ugly sight (Cause Tampa blasted us both times in the playoffs in ’03 and ’11). Anyway, we get Ovi and Backs  eventually by the end of the week. WE NEED THEM.    

  • John W.

    @Sshiavse yeah man i dont see why we just dont let vokoun play all 82 games without a single game rest… This loss was not all neuvys fault. we just need to play smart hockey and get some damn shots on net. and on a side note, why bring Rechlicz up and only play him 3 minutes, when he was out there he was sakting his ass off and finishing his checks, give him some more ice time, he deserves it.

  • Guest

    Why would I stop watching my team when they stink instead of trying to
    support them no matter what? That seems pretty low and unfaithful. Just
    sayin’. :/

  • Sandra Dee

    Tomas, is that you?! 

  • mr

    Get used to it.  This is Hunter Hockey.  We’ve gone from an up-tempo, highly skilled offensive team to a team with no skilled players available.  When given a chance, we will dump the puck into the corner instead of trying to pass to an open man.  Mainly because when we try to pass to an open man, we turn it over resulting in an odd-man rush the other way.

    This team is taking on the personality of Hunter.  Which isn’t bad, but it means a lot of close games and a .500 record.

  • Jackson

     Ha! The link you provide as a defense says it’s a word only in that generations of morons continue to use it, and you shouldn’t use it. Nice one.

  • Pattyo

    I’m never gonna stop supporting my caps, i just need my bears to remind me what it’s like to see an actual TEAM play…

  • capslocked

    HAHAHA oh man I can’t believe I made that mistake.

    BRB forever laughing at this.