A Timeline of Caps Goalies Giving Up Goals From Center Ice

Tomas Vokoun

Vokoun reacts after letting a Dustin Byfuglien shot from the red line go in. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

After Monday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Capitals are 2-4-1 in February and find themselves in ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Caps have clearly struggled without superstars Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, but the most bizarre aspect of the Capitals recent play has been their propensity for giving up goals from center ice.

The first goal of the Caps’ 5-3 loss to the Sharks was marked as having been scored from 69 feet since the puck deflected off Joe Pavelski, but the fluke bounce that got behind Braden Holtby came from another 80-foot shot that turned into a goal against. The terrible part is that we can say “another” — Pavelski’s goal Monday was the third puck shot from at least 80 feet that’s resulted in a goal this month. All three Caps starters in net this month, Michal Neuvirth, Tomas Vokoun, and Braden Holtby have allowed one each.

Let’s review this bizarre phenomenon.

2/1/12 – Mikael Samuelsson Scores on Michal Neuvirth From 88 Feet

The first goal of this kind came against Florida on 2/1 with Michal Neuvirth in net. Mikael Samuelsson took a pretty routine shot from his own end, but Neuvirth misjudged the angle, started to leave his net, and wasn’t square when the puck hit the twine. The Caps lost the game, 4-2.

2/9/12 – Dustin Byfuglien Scores on Tomas Vokoun From 87 Feet

Perhaps the worst possible moment for a fluke goal would be when the opposing team has just scored 12 seconds ago to pull within one, but that was exactly what happened when Dustin Byfuglien shot the puck from the red line, only to have it deflect oddly off Karl Alzner and carome right behind Tomas Vokoun. This goal tied the game, which the Caps would go on to lose in the shootout, 3-2. Sigh.

2/13/12 – Joe Pavelski Scores on Braden Holtby From 69 Feet

In the Caps’ home loss to the Sharks, perhaps the worst moment of a rough night came when Dan Boyle wound up at center ice and took a shot that deflected off teammate Joe Pavelski. Braden Holtby seemed to get a glove on it for a moment, but then it trickled over the brim of his glove into the net. The Caps lost the game, 5-3.

So here are our questions for you guys. Is this a pattern of lazy play or just miserable bad luck? Does Dale Hunter need to get the Caps to start practicing defending shots from the red line? Let us know what you think in the comments below, because lord knows, we have no idea what’s going on here.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland.

  • I was at the Jets game so I would say that the goal on Vokoun was bad luck because Byfuglien put everything into that shot and I mean everything. Vokes had no time to react after it redirected off Alzner’s stick.

    The other two however are inexcusable, especially Holtby’s.

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  • Sonny

    No its not they’re fault. Watch in a couple years you will be seeing more of the Pavelski style ones during entries. Buffs and Samuelson’s were a tad flukey.

  • Tomjoshea26

    The goal on nuevy is the only in excusable one of the three. Buff has a wicked shot and it was redirected and bounced towards the net in an odd way, and the one against Holtby had such a knuckle to it I’m not surprised it squirted out of his glove. Here’s a thought we blame the lack luster neutral zone puck containment, and back checking from our d-men, and forwards respectively. The neutral zone has been a weak point all season long.

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  • Those were some flukey goals.  I don’t think any of the goalies had a chance on them.

    However, there has been a distinct pattern of relying on the goalie to pick up the slack and cover for shabby defense.  If the backchecking and neutral zones had been covered properly and the players been in proper position, my guess is that none of those shots would have been taken in the first place.  There are far too many instances of goals being scored because players are not in the place they’re supposed to be (and know they should be). 

    Sooo … I’m gonna split the baby.  Those goals weren’t the goalies fault, but they do need to be hung on the team as a whole.

  • don johnson

    There was also another goal Neuvy gave up from the red line in Colorado about 2 months ago

  • Link us to the video or it never happened!

  • oderus

    didnt nuevy let in a weird goal from the avs in like November? 

  • Peter
  • Caps256

    I am a huge fan. I love the Caps. However I am disappointed with the defensive play, and I’m scared to type this : Ovechkin’s dedication to team play. He leads not by example, but rather from a different perspective I can’t put my finger on. The Caps need team commitment first, star power second. That’s #32’s way. Defensive dedication would most certainly have prevented two of three longshot goals and maybe even DB’s. We need more Canadiana, less Hollywood.

  • Alex N.
  • don johnson

    Thanks Alex.  My mistake… it was definitely not from the neutral zone but I think you would have to say it was almost as fluky as the other three

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