Graig Abel

Photo credit: Graig Abel

Remember how we were whining about losing that game in Ottawa? How it wasn’t fair? How we were skeptical that lady luck would ever swing the Washington Capitals’ way?

Not tonight. The Caps’ loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t an artifact of luck, but rather the sadly predictable result of a penalty parade.

Mike Ribeiro hit up Joel Ward on the weak side for an easy opening goal. JVR tied it up with a rebound goal during a super-sized power play for the Leafs.  Alex Ovechkin recorded a PPG with a nasty wrister to restore Washington’s lead. Then the Capitals killed off a eleventy billion penalties. The Leafs tied it up in the third when Nikolai Kulemin ate snow to knock home a loose puck behind Neuvy. The Leafs stole the lead with a Matt Frattin net-crash halfway into the third.

Leafs beat Caps 3-2.

pim

No.

  • Penalties penalties penalties. With 10 PIMS in the first period alone, the Caps were lucky to escape with just one goal against. We said the other day that the Caps need to limit penalties while they improve their special teams, but they must feel otherwise; this game was a penalty-killing rehearsal for the crew. The PK did swell, but the Caps missed a lot of time in the offensive zone.
  • Big John Erskine, Peter Robbio’s favorite Cap, has been bunches of fun this year. In the first minute of the game, Ersk walloped Phil Kessel in a hit that should have set the tone for the night. Yeah, Big John was a bit out of position on Van Riemsdyk’s goal and he blew one big chance to keep the puck in the O-zone, but Erskine has been fun to watch this season.
  • Speaking of Kessel, huge props to Michal Neuvirth for keeping Toronto’s star out of the goal column. Hello Neuvy was stellar while the Caps were on the PK, and any night where a guy stops 35+ pucks is a good night– regardless of what the bums in front of him do.
  • Great to see Joel Ward making big plays in his hometown. He’s been so hot, we’re not even gonna mention how ludicrous his shooting percentage is.
  • Jason Chimera‘s night was an NRA press conference held on a train that has crashed into the Hindenberg. Two bad penalties hurt, but jawing at the ref made it so much worse, and those extra two minutes were what gave JVR time for his goal.
  • For the second consecutive game, the Capitals did not deign to offer any offense in the third period. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: SCOAR MOAR GOALS. The teams that win consistently are the ones who can win big. Plus, it’s infinitely more fun to watch and write about them.
  • Both of Alex Ovechkin‘s goals have come on the power play, and both from the same spot– right above the circle. That’s a spot Ovechkin would never occupy if he were still playing point as he demanded last season. Good on Oates for putting this 1-3-1 power play together and assigning Ovi to the half wall.
  • Marcus Johansson was all alone with Reimer with a chance to tie the game. Instead of shooting, he did a drop-pass. After a few games in the press box, I’m dumbfounded as to why he didn’t try to score. Sorry, scoar.
joe b

Joe B suit of the night: twins!

Like I said: after committing so many penalties, the Caps shouldn’t have had a chance. Epic penalty killing made it interesting (or is the word heartbreaking?), but the Caps didn’t deserve to win this one. That lead was just a mirage.

Elsewhere in the league, Thomas Vanek had his second 5-point game of the season. This is germane because if he had played against the Caps, we would be looking at a winless season so far.

I know that’s a huge downer, but take heart, y’all. The Caps are gonna turn it around, and you’ll be able to say you were there when they did.

See you tomorrow, when we all whoop for Mike Knuble.

  • Holy_Cal

    Seth Jones is going to look good in red.

  • Colm

    I appreciate your ray of hope at the end. I was feeling really dire, but you guys are keeping me in it.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    This team needs to adhere to Oates’s system, get in good conditioning, and stop taking dumb penalties. That’s really about it. They look like an above-average team at even strength in the first 30-40 minutes of games.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Neuvirth was freaking fantastic tonight. This was the first time the Caps have wasted a quality start from a goaltender this season, and the first time they’ve lost when the pucks have bounced their way (team PDO > 1000).

    Blame it ALL on the penalties.

  • Quinn

    man it’s tough. i feel like maybe the caps aren’t the team they used to be. they take a different path everynight but it is all to the same destination. a loss. some nights it’s penalties, some nights energy, some nights it’s defense, some nights it’s goalie and some night’s its refs but they all get to a loss. they just can’t put it all together into one glorious win.

  • http://twitter.com/John_Atchison John Atchison

    I dont want to hear that conditioning nonsense! Every other freakin team in the league was in the same situation. In fact we had plenty of guys that actually played during the lockout. Call it what it is…This team is a disaster dressed in GMTedded clothing.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I’m not saying that like it’s an okay excuse. These veteran players shouldn’t be losing their legs at the end of games. They should have been better prepared. But it definitely is a contributing factor to the losing. Locker even said as such during the telecast.

  • Akay15

    You guys are the only thing keeping me sane throughout all this.

  • GuestZ

    Share some of that optimism, would you? We’ve won 1 game. Out of 8. This is fu*cking pathetic.

  • http://twitter.com/John_Atchison John Atchison

    Ian this team is just poorly built. GM has built a european centric team with no grit. He built a team based on scoring and forgot their are two ends to a hockey rink. Double Nickel clears no one…Yet all our team does is make minor league swaps. The days of us being a piece away are over.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    “European centric” Jingoism.

    This isn’t a great time, but it’s definitely a playoff-caliber team. Just an unlucky one (with the exception of tonight.)

  • Chris

    flaksjdfalksdj so mad

  • Doughie

    Somebody tell me why Schultz hasn’t been traded or bought out? Erskine makes less, plays more, and is waaaay more valuable. Talk about a useless giraffe on blades…two times tonight he floundered in front of the night giving freedom for Leafs goals.

  • elementarynotion

    I imagine these are my frustrations speaking, but…

    If the Caps are to play wretched hockey, they may as well go full-bore. I can think of nothing worse than their becoming a “bubble team” – record too poor to qualify for the playoffs, yet not sufficiently dreadful to warrant a top-five draft selection.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Schultz isn’t that bad. Hamrlik has worse possession numbers, but Schultz has had worse goaltending while he has been on ice.

  • Jef Buzz

    Holy cow we are in trouble, looks like wearing out in the 3rd. Neuvi was awesome but too many pps and 5 on 3′s. Tough week ahead.

  • Jef Buzz

    Conditioning is definitly a factor, no matter what other teams are doing these guys are not prepared to go 60 mins.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I don’t think the “wearing out” is the problem. The problem is how many standings points they’re missing out on while they get discipline and special teams together (also luck).

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’m with John. These guys are world-class athletes. They can work out for 10-25 minutes. Their third period collapses have more to do with strategy and discipline than health.

  • http://twitter.com/Fools_RushL_in Ray in Bowie

    “The Caps are gonna turn it around, and you’ll be able to say you were there when they did.”
    NOTHING I’ve seen this year remotely supports that prediction.

  • Dark Stranger

    They’ve changed the lottery so that all non-playoff teams qualify — like the NBA Still, really bad teams get a better chance of winning big.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Then you haven’t been paying attention. Read the post about “freaking out” from 2 days ago. The Caps are having miserable shooting luck, which tends to even out as time goes on. They have good puck possession, which is the single best predictor of success.

    Pay moar attention and hop on the bandwagon.

  • Yv

    Well, it was very simple formula: Ovi scores Caps win. Now it also gone. What’s left? Caps now again worst team in the league. So here the reason for optimism, because the only way this team will go is UP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005713165 Pat Magee

    MJ90 is by far the least valuable player on the team. Send him down to hershey, call up Sjogren!

  • JP

    These guys are not remotely close to a playoff-caliber team. Call ‘em what they are: the Dallas Cowboys of hockey. Constantly hyped as talented contenders, yet constantly unable to win when it matters. You are what your record says you are; in this case their record says Non Playoff-Caliber team.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    You WERE what your record says you WERE, but that doesn’t mean it predicts your future. Stuff like possession is better at telling you where you’re going. Possession sucked tonight, but overall it’s been pretty good– just shut down by bad luck.

  • JP

    Schultz got beaten like a baby seal on that last goal, bro. I think Schultz is generally alright positionally, but his lack of speed and mobility was on full display there.

  • Le Epoque

    Well, Troy Brouwer seems to have a subscription of “Delaying game – Puck over glass”-penalties.

  • kemiisto

    So Semin was not only our second best scorer but he also take 50% of penalties on himself. Now penalties are redistributed and it so difficult to find a scapegoat. Don’t know is it good or bad.

    Neyvy is #1. Period. Please, Oates, do not rotate goalies! Only for back-2-backs!

  • kemiisto

    Hamrlik can at least block shots. In fact he can do it very efficiently. Schultz can do nothing right now.

  • Stacy Harrison

    I like your term “elevinty billion.” So true too!! My son’s Mites games are more exciting to watch.

  • Brouwer Rangers

    If you rotate that picture ever so slightly, it looks like Brouwer’s doing a pretty respectable kick-line. So there’s that.

  • Brouwer Rangers

    Update: it’s quite a bit easier to rotate your head than to rotate the photo. The more you know …

  • serpent

    He does look sort of spacey sometimes, as if he’s not really into the game.

  • CP

    Schultz got high-sticked on that play. Watch the replay. Kadri gets the stick up and clips Schultz in the face, which stuns him, and then then Frattin goes by him. I don’t consider that getting beat.

  • serpent

    Our D left Holtby out in the cold. Neuvy gets good help most of the time. Give the same D to Holtby and we’ll see a different goalie.

  • johnnymorte

    The problem is we only have one 30+ goal scorer. We had two last year but they gave him away. I think now we are seeing how valuable Semin is as a playmaker on a second line. We are going to have problems scoring all year. Should have added Ribeiro and kept Semin. You need skill to score goals in this league. You have to spend money to build championship teams. GMGM sucks as a GM. He couldn’t get Kuznetsov here, and he put together a team of bums with one struggling superstar winger and a talented playmaking center that still can’t score goals in this league. We are doomed. Get Tom Wilson here and lets start checking the shit out of other teams! Where’s Brooksie?!

  • 28IS(still)GREAT

    Everyone should save up their regrets over Semin not being signed until Carolina comes to town. It may be the first time in 9 years it can be indisputably argued the Caps lost because of Semin.
    Of course, I hope thats not the case, but reason enough to keep your powder dry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/madeleine.larson Madeleine Justine Larson

    I’m not dumbfounded at all. Johansson is useless. The only marketable skill he can claim is passing…mostly to the other team.