Darroll Powe is helped off the ice. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
The Washington Capitals won three in a row coming into Sunday, but those games were against middling teams in their own division. This game was the New York Rangers, the guys who bounced the Hunter-led Caps from the playoffs last year. This game actually went a lot like those games: great goaltending but not nearly enough Caps offense.
John Carlson’s slapshot went top shelf in the game’s opening minutes. Carl Hagelin notched a goal halfway into a second period that felt more like an extended New York power play. Derek Stepan finished off a six-second power play to give the Rangers a lead– which held on for the win.
Rangers beat Caps 2-1.
- The Capitals got absolutely dominated in puck possession. At even strength, the Rangers bombarded Braden Holtby with 29 shots, dwarfing Washington’s paltry 19 count even after backing off in the third period. The Caps had played against poor possession teams before, but the Rangers are in the top 10. The Caps simply must limit shots against and spend more time on attack — or else they’re washed up.
- The Caps took three dumb penalties in the first period. The first was dumb in the traditional sense: poor bench management leading to too many men on the ice. But the second and third penalties were soft boarding calls, both called after shoulder checks by Jason Chimera and Troy Brouwer that must have looked too good to be legal.
- The Capitals killed those penalties off thanks to the superhuman skills of Braden Holtby. Summoning the spirit of himself circa 2012, Holtby stopped all twenty shots in the first period– many of them terrific scoring chances.
- In the interest of fairness, the refs called at least one softy on the Rangers as well.
- Darroll Powe and Matt Hendricks collided at center ice in the second period. Both players had their eyes on the puck, neither on the other. Powe flipped and landed on his head, apparently knocked out. He was assisted to the locker room by his teammates. Hendricks was shaken up, but did not miss a shift. I don’t say that just to glorify Hendrick’s toughness– just illustrating how unpredictable injuries can be. I’m not aware of a rules or equipment change being discussed that would stop this from happening again.
- As reported by Peerless, John Carlson has been on ice for 13 of the 16 power play goals scored against the Caps so far. Make of that what you will, but I think Carlson is late in adopting a new Caps defensive system for the second year in a row.
- Seven shots and no goals from Alex Ovechkin. We don’t usually see him shoot that much without results. Lots of effort with nothing to show for it can lead to a grumpy Ovi, and a grumpy Ovi leads to decreased pageviews for us, so we’re doubly unhappy.
The only thing worse than not having Joe B call the game is hearing his play-calls used in promos for the network that fired him. Boo.
Despite superb goaltending, the Caps earned this loss. They were thoroughly outmatched at neutral ice, unwilling to limit shots against (a season high 40), and snakebit on offense.
The three-win streak was crucial, but it’s over now, and the Capitals still have miles to go before they sleep. That’s a surprise to no one. The good news is they have three days off to work on it.
See you Thursday!