Totally not a picture of Grubauer btw. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
The Washington Capitals had a great chance to jump up the Southeast Division in Saturday’s game at the New York Islanders. For awhile it looked like the Caps could do it, but then two rotten, late-game penalties by Mike Ribeiro and Jeff Schultz put it out of reach. A great opportunity, squandered.
Isles beat Caps 5-2.
- I still suspect that neutral-ice possession is intended to be the centerpiece of the Adam Oates system, but turnovers — like the one Alex Ovechkin surrendered leading to the Isles’ second goal — seemed to be all the rage on Saturday afternoon. The Islanders were surprisingly feisty in neutral and on the forecheck, which revealed how shaky the Caps really are setting up their offense. Miles to go before the Caps sleep.
- The Islanders really do have some talent on their team. It makes you wonder what they could do if their ownership weren’t a joke.
- John Erskine skated two shifts worth 1:18 in the first period before the leaving the ice with an upper-body injury. That left the Caps with 5 D for the bulk of the game, putting increased pressure on guys like…
- Steve Oleksy, who had another hard-hitting game. I don’t know if he’s actually contributing to the game events that correlate to winning, but I enjoy watching him do his thing. For example, if two Islanders lay a simultaneous hit on him, and they’re the only guys who fall down, that’s good times.
- Mathieu Perreault continues an impressive season. He’s not scoring on every fourth shot like last year, but he’s still a very strong shooter with good numbers underneath (though he is sheltered in his deployments). Perry’s line was the best today, creating all the best swarms around Nabokov’s net.
- Nicky Backstrom has been eerily quiet this season– with just two goals before today, and both at home. His tying goal in the third period– a blistering one-timer capping off a tight passing sequence– was his way of reintroducing himself to the league’s goalies. It’d be great to see like 10-15 more like that before the season is out.
- Philipp Grubauer earns a big stinking L in his first NHL start. He did face a ton of shots, but he performed pretty much exactly where you’d expect a replacement player to be– roundabouts .886 save percentage. File under not ready for primetime.
- Jason Chimera is not gonna score if he is forever cycling behind the net. I think he needs some tactical adjustments to shake the slump.
- Mike Ribeiro has been rehabilitating his reputation as a hothead this year. That campaign is on a backslide recently, as Ribs’ third-period unsportmanlike + high-sticking double-minor penalty cost the Capitals this game. I count three penalties assessed to Mike for mouthing off so far this season, which is also three too many.
- That goes for Jeff Schultz as well. The Giraffe’s high-sticking call immediately followed Ribs’ and made a win impossible for DC. John Tavares scored (his second of the day) on the first half of that penalty. The refs missed that goal– causing the Caps to have to serve two more minutes shorthanded before the call was reversed. That PK time was added back to the clock, and a weary Caps team had to keep working.
- Nothing kills a late-game rally like a prompt shorthanded goal. Guhh. So this game sucked.
The Capitals are gonna have to shake this one off. They have to get over the slow start, the dumb penalties, the bad attitude. Not to mention the stench of Long Island in general.
Caps at Rangers tomorrow at noon thirty. Gird your loins, Caps fans. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a pair of milestones: Alex Ovechkin’s 700th career point and Jason Chimera’s first goal since the late 80s.
Have a good Saturday, y’all.