Bruins beats Caps 4-1, Brooks Laich Injured

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.

  • Photo credit: Ann Heisenfelt

    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.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja n a

    Adding salt to the wound is the atrocious commentating on this national broadcast.  I have to say how very much I despise these village idiots. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262029985 Alison Latimer

    Yes, Emrick even had a jab at the Redskins…..insult to injury….

  • Lrhflute

    Do you guys think if Brooksie is out for any length of time, our playoff hopes are screwed?

    Also, I hate all announcers (NBC or VS) that aren’t Craig and Joe. Can we just have them for every game regardless of the channel it’s on? Those other guys are hateful and annoying….

    Ugh, I’ve been a fan since 1984 and I don’t remember ever being as pissed at the Caps as I have been this season. (I will, however, be a fan till death….it doesn’t mean I have to like them all the time). UGH!

  • Peter

    Pretty bad, and Bruins-centric. I guess that’s what we should expect now that we’re the underdogs in every game. Le sigh.

  • http://twitter.com/Maestro_Mike Mike Collins

    OMFG

  • Peter

    I personally think the playoff hopes are screwed even with him. Look at these upcoming games… We have to root for another team to fall apart AND hope that we completely reverse the shooting trends.

    BUT.

    George McPhee has every reason in the world to be very active before the trade deadline. A new team means all bets are off.

  • Alex

    Emrick praising Chara for 20 minutes straight made him my new most hated player in the league.

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  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja n a

    Was it only 20 minutes? Because I like Chara and I’ll swear it went on all game.  I also like Tim Thomas, (and the Bruins when we’re not playing them … go easy there … I grew up in Vermont, we had to choose between Montreal and Boston), but that love fest was vomitrocious.

  • Shoquan1

    This loss will be a wake up call to this team. We need to win a string of games and hope other teams can keep the Panthers down for us. We have to make trades before the deadline or we’re toast. I would send out all the underperforming players and get players who are playoff minded guys as well as if we can acquire a former player from the 2011 Boston Bruins. This season has been a disaster. They’re kind of lost in the woods.

    I care more about the playoffs than another silly SE title anyway. But STILL, we need to get better players (better-disclipined players, better offensive players, ones who can CONCENTRATE and know what the hell they are doing).  

  • Shoquan1

    Can we get Tuomo Ruutu PLEASE?? He can contribute so much and help Ovi at least find his scoring touch. If we can trade some underperforming players for that guy, GREAT!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/deann.jackson2 Deann Jackson

    Here’s the thing:  Caps don’t deserve good coverage.  Until they actually win something post-season or at least put together a team that looks like they care, you can’t really heap a lot of praise on them.

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

    Dale Hunter’s “dysfunctional system”, really? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/deann.jackson2 Deann Jackson

    He’s deserving of praise.  An excellent defensemen.  He has a Cup behind that now. I’m sure if the Caps had done something worthy of praise, the announcers would be more even handed.  But as a Caps fan, I’m struggling to find ANYTHING this year to be excited about so as a result, I don’t expect announcers to be cheerleaders for our team.

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  • Peter

    Yeah. Really. Check out this chart. Possession has plummeted and shots against have not declined. There is no upside to this system.

  • Peter

    DH took over at game 23 by the way!

  • Amanda

    I have no stats to back this up, but I’m completely unworried about a possible Brooks Laich absence for two reasons. Reason 1: Brooks is a badass and won’t miss much time. Reason 2: Is his play really that essential to the success of the club? What has he done this season? 

  • Peter

    1. take a ton of faceoffs, B. anchor the second line, iii. serve as off-ice leader, 4. generate the third most scoring chances among forwards 
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/capitals/scoring-chances/index.html

  • Pattyo

    I’m gonna cry.

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

    GAA is down. It actually plays to the team’s strengths as the 1-2-2 creates turnovers and quick-rushes/counter-attacks. The players look like they gave a fuck unlike under BB this season. Special teams are improved. Just to name a few things.

    The possession numbers are not good, no. And that can be attributed to typically poor breakout, a problem under both coaching regimes. The Hunter system actually works beautifully when the team actually makes good passes to exit the zone. I think any system is dependent on a good breakout. Then there’s this guy named Mike Green, I heard he’s great at single-handedly leading a breakout. 

    They’ve been making a more conscious effort to produce more offense in recent weeks, but it’s very difficult to get that going without your 1C and your 1D, and for a few games without your 1W.  Yes, I know they were still getting outshot (tonight should tell you why outshooting a team doesn’t mean squat) with Backstrom in the lineup, but as I said…hard to re-focus your offense without one of your best weapons. 

    Then there’s other individual problems that have nothing to do with systems or coaches. Carlson is going through your classic sophomore slump…fanning on outlet passes and turning it over by throwing it up the middle have nothing to do with systems. He didn’t look right in preseason either. Neuvy: sophomore slumpin.  

    Hamrlik? He’s improved vastly over Hunter, but he was clearly not the best signing. He’s slow and immobile. Shultz? Slow and immobile. That doesn’t work in the playoffs, as Tampa Bay harshly taught us. MarJo is not a legit 2C at this point.

    In short, I disagree. Pretty graph though.

  • Peter

    GAA is down about .75 per game, which can be owed entirely to the recovery of two goaltenders from miserable levels to a now elite and unsustainable level. You can attribute that to Dale if you want, but it would be foolish.

    You can say the breakout sucked under both, but Bruce’s Caps were outplayed half as often as Dale’s. Characterize and qualify that how you wish, but the numbers prove a decline only under Hunter.

    Carlson is not going through a classic sophomore slump. He’s fallen from a league-leader in defense– taking tons of minutes last year and doing exceptionally well– to being the biggest liability of the defense. The drop-off didn’t occur until the defensive reformulation. Recall that he was an NHL star of the week in October.

    Again, Neuvy and Vokoun were slumping only under Boudreau and have become their normal excellent under Hunter. This is proven in the ES SV%, which I documented a few weeks back.

    None of your arguments hold water. I would’ve been nice, but then you called my graph pretty and I think that was snide.

  • Peter

    I totally agree, Mike. I like Ovi when he’s the last guy to touch the puck before a shot on goal. Let someone else enter the zone, preferably someone blond, Swedish, and healthy.

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  • Jim

    The one plus is an intangible, I felt like they could pull it out through most of the second half of the game, even when they were down 2.  That’s not something I’ve been able to say much lately.  It’s not much, but it’s something.

    As an aside, remember the days when you believed the Caps could come back in just about any game?

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