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.