The Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center for a matinee match with the Boston Bruins, their second game in 24 hours. Disaster.
Milan Lucic scored after a bad read by Dennis Wideman gave him an opening. Brad Marchand made it 2-0 after Karl Alzner and John Carlson funneled the puck to their own crease. Marchand set up Tyler Seguin for the game’s third– and the second in which Dennis Wideman lost his man. A gorgeous 200-foot series culminated in a goal by Marcus Johansson (or Ward, whatever) and the end of Tim Thomas’s Sovereign Shutout. Peverly got the empty netter. Bruins beat Caps 4-1.
During the second period, Brooks Laich chased a puck behind the Boston net with Dennis Seidenberg in close pursuit. Seidenberg apparently connected with Laich’s left knee. Brooks tried to crawl to the bench but needed help to get down the tunnel. He tried his leg out during a TV timeout, but quickly retreated back to the locker room.
- Brooks Laich isn’t a center, but he plays one on TV. Already weak at center and without Nick Backstrom, the Caps are… well… totally f#@&ed without him. Knee injuries are finicky things. If his MCL or ACL is torn, we’re talking months not days. If that’s the case, hope for a Capitals’ postseason becomes a refuge for the naive and scurrilous.
- Or maybe it’s just a bruise, and Laich will play him on Tuesday. We’ll find out, but we can’t pretend like we’re not completely distraught over this. [UPDATE: Via Stephen Whyno at the Washington Times, Brooks Laich is on crutches. He says he is okay and that his exit was precautionary.]
- After nearly 7 minutes without any offense whatsoever, Alex Ovechkin unleashed his fury with 3 shots in the first period. That’s two more shots than he took during Saturday’s entire game (and more than 20 minutes TOI). His 7-shot game is his best since December 20th.
- Keith Aucoin had his moment in the sun during a second period breakaway. His shot was so far off the mark, he might’ve been aiming for a net in Hershey. After Laich got sidelined, Aucoin got a shift or two centering Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, who are each 5 inches taller than he is.
- Dmitry Orlov took ANOTHER puck to the face. As you remember, a deflected puck bloodied his nose yesterday and required some tampon utilization. Poor baby might need some rhinoplasty.
- Blocked shots are a scam: when your count is high, you’ve been playing in your own end too long. But Karl Alzner deserves the hard hat today for blocking a team-best-by-a-mile 10 shots. That’s one fewer than the entire Bruins team blocked. Alzner was partially at fault for Marchand’s goal, although his partner and quisling John Carlson was the one who directed the puck to the paint.
- Mike Knuble will break out of his funk eventually, but he’s gotta actually shoot first. 0 attempts tonight and only 6 shots in the last 7 games.
- The Capitals got more than thirty shots for just the fifth time since Dale Hunter took over– and for the first time since December 13. The total was 36-30, meaning the Caps are on the right side of the shot differential for the first time in 14 games.
Brooks Laich’s status is unknown. Backstrom and Green are still on the shelf. But the worst thing for us to do right now is allow these injuries to mask the failure of this team– even when two of those three were healthy– to generate offense. We shouldn’t use the recent absence of Backstrom and now Laich as an excuse for Dale Hunter’s dysfunctional system. It shouldn’t continue once they return.
I know this looked like an awful game, and it really was. But there were bright spots that we must not ignore. Alex Ovechkin’s inspired-if-frustrated performance was his best since the new year, and the team mounted a thunderous comeback attempt in the third.
The Capitals host the Florida Panthers at home on Tuesday and the Jets on Thursday. That’s two big division games. Even with today’s loss, they’re still within striking distance of the Southeast lead. You’ve seen how tough this schedule is down the stretch. They’ve gotta get points meow before it’s too late.
Crash the net. Save Brooksy.