There’s not much to say, really. The Washington Capitals got their asses kicked thoroughly by the Ottawa Senators.
Erik Karlsson went five-hole on Tomas Vokou to make it 1-0, and Milan Michalek beat Dennis Wideman to make it 2-0. Number three was Michalek again, who tipped a power play shot to make it 3-0. On another power play, Chris Phillips made it 4-0.
The Caps got serious in the third. John Carlson broke the shutout, and Matty Perreault deflected in a goal off his pretty French Canadian face. But Nick Foligno secured the empty netter. Sens beat Caps 5-2.
Perfunctory game notes.
- Team captain Alex Ovechkin missed the game due to a lower-body injury sustained on Monday.
- Elderly defender Roman Hamrlik was scratched. Rumors of a possible trade proliferated, and I’m sure Dale Hunter’s saying he had been giving up “too many scoring chances” only stoked those flames.
- Tomas Vokoun was dramatically off his game, giving up 4 goals on 10 shots.
- When he relieved Vokoun for the second consecutive game, Michal Neuvirth had to stop two shorthanded breakaways in a row. He was perfect until the final buzzer.
- Mike Green recorded 8 shots on goal. He deserved better than his team tonight. Jason Chimera had 6 and looked very sharp after the first period, especially when setting up a trick shot off Perreault’s face.
- Troy Brouwer, who as alternate captain is allowed to talk back to refs, got whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct.
- Brooks Laich got in a fight. No seriously, Brooks Laich got in a fight. He went PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH FALL DOWN BEFORE YOU CAN FIGHT BACK OKAY FIGHT OVER. BL21 was superb tonight, allowing only one even-strength shot against his net while on the ice. He always cares.
- The Caps went scoreless for more than 130 minutes before John Carlson struck on the power play.
You know stuff is dire when your team has to score by banking shots off each other’s faces.
This is what happens when a team depends on its goalies completely. All goalies falter eventually, but only bad teams are crippled by it. The Capitals are a bad team. Maybe the worst. Ugh, that sucks to type.
It didn’t have to be like this. This team won 7 games in a row to start the season. They definitively defeated the Detroit Red Wings, who are now the best team in the league.
But after a few too many slip-ups, the front office, who might have been wound a bit too tight by expectation, jettisoned the coach. Since then, any sign of progress has been a mirage– a temporary but seductive vision that served only to delay this inevitable realization:
This team is broken.
We knew that on Monday, but the team made no changes. Despite the score, this one was almost worse, perhaps because of the accumulation of misery. This team keeps piling it on, but stubbornly refuses to acknowledge and address obvious problems.
- The Capitals defense can’t play Johnson’s man-to-man defense. The Capitals cannot (and never could) afford to wait for them to learn.
- The Capitals forwards thrive on creativity, but are stifled by Hunter’s conservative approach, which is designed to limit odd-man rushes against but has failed utterly to do so.
- The Capitals overleveraged Nick Backstrom and Tomas Vokoun, and they could not withstand an injury to the former and a less-than-perfect performance by the latter.
But look at these guys. These players are fantastic. You’ve seen them play like heroes before. Individually, they’re great. They’re all just suffering under the same endemic problem, some pervasive gloom in the organization.
Believe it or not: that’s a good thing. As bad as it looks, this team is never far from greatness. It’ll happen.
Someone asked me yesterday if it’s time to give up on the Caps. My answer?
Now here are some animal videos.
Brooks Laich fight joke stolen from Ian Oland.