Hot-heads and High Sticks: Isles beat Caps 5-2

Bruce Bennett

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.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

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.


  • Ned

    that was…*vomits*…just awful

  • Akay15

    That Ribs penalty made me angry. He’s not going to establish much credibility, regardless of how many points he can put up, if his ridiculous temper isn’t controlled. There’s no point in smacking a puck away and then yapping at a ref even after he’s out of the box.

  • garik16

    Isles fan here. Take your rage off on the Rangers tomorrow please.

  • I thought Grubauer was pretty good today and I’m excited to see him develop. The score could have been much much worse. Also, I’ve never seen a man do more splits in a three hour period of time than he.

    Most of the goals he gave up today should be more pinned on terrible Caps defense than him mis-playing anything. Multiple rebounds/odd-man breaks, 4 of those goals he didn’t have a chance. I hope he keeps his head up after this performance. He’s done great during this call-up.

  • 45 shots against is a lot for any goalie– especially a noob. I don’t blame him for the number of goals he gave up at all— it’s commendable anytime a goalie faces 40+. But a goalie is ultimately responsible for the proportion of shots to saves.

  • You hear GMs talking about getting “good character” guys in free agency. I wonder if this hurts him when he hits UFA in the offseason.

  • Mike Ribeiro should be inducted into the HOY: The Hall of Yappers.

  • He should do commercials for sportsyapp the app to yapp about sports. Sportsyapp.

  • Akay15

    I’m willing to give him the rest of the season to prove he’s not a huge diva. Maybe.

  • Yv

    That was I afraid when commenting on your article “Standings..” couple days ago. Caps came out in preservation mood because of Sunday meeting with NYR and NBC and they were burnt by Isles. Ovi and Ribs just played shameful game. I wonder whether Ribs wants to get any decent contact. He is now on pace of career high penalty minutes and already in around top 60 in the league in this department. GMGM will have really hard time what to do with him, extend w/o overpaying or get good return if to trade. Now Caps must win 3 next games with NYR and CAR to be on close distance with them.

  • I just got back from the Nassau Mausoleum and I’m pissed. The Caps, with the exception of Grubauer (who looked pretty good to me), played like they were hungover…

    That must have been some party last night.

  • Snap.

  • Ash

    I personally thought Ovechkin was fairly good in the first period– he had at least two very sound defensive moves that made me sit up and take notice, one of which I think saved a goal and covered Carlson (who had what I thought was a pretty awful game). Unfortunately, the bad turnovers from Ovechkin in the other two periods cost us. I thought Grubauer had both some good saves and some soft goals; I don’t think Holtby lets in that second one, but Holtby needed rest, so no point weeping over that.

    There are some things the Caps couldn’t control and worked against them: weird puck bounces from bad ice, Erskine getting injured and having to roll only five d, missed calls that they genuinely should have had, the extra killing time from the Tavares goal mishap. (I bet Perreault is hearing that bar ping in his head, though he and his line had some great shifts.)

    There are other things that were much more in their grasp that they could have controlled and didn’t: energetic skating, making better decisions while being forechecked heavily, yapping back at the refs for legit calls, clamping down behavior when it was clear the refs were going to call unpredictably.

    This was winnable, but they didn’t rise to the occasion. That sucks. Hopefully, Oates is giving them a firm speech about it. But if they can shake it off, squeeze a point or two out of the Rangers tomorrow at home, and win both the Carolina home and home games, we can keep hoping.

  • rp

    Man, preview and game story, ripping Isles. Caps stink.

  • “The Islanders really do have some talent on their team.”

    “The Islanders were surprisingly feisty in neutral and on the forecheck”

    Yeah I freaking ripped the hell out of those guys

  • I thought Ovi was really solid too– aside from the turnover and the complaining over a missed whistle. You’re absolutely right about that goal-saving block.

  • Dump him before the trade deadline or else he turns into a pumpkin. Like Wideman and Semin did. The team can’t keeping letting players go without any return on the investment. Well, they can, but then they’ll end up a bad team.

  • brian!

    I thought the people calling for a Ribeiro trade prior to the deadline were crazy, but geez he almost seems like a liability with the hot-headedness.

  • Last time the Caps played a Saturday matinee, I accidentally slept through it, and I awoke sometime later to happy tidings: a blowout win and a hat trick for Ovi. Today, I was awake for the thing, and… not so much. So this one’s on me, guys.

  • jennrubenstein

    i’ve been liking ribeiro more and more all season. i’ve joked about guido goals, he’s gotten the fist pumping treatment on the big screen, he seemed great on CRL… but today he pissed me off, and being reminded of his prior unsportsmanlike tantrums… when he’s a point machine, i love the guy, but after a game like today, i’m not as angered by the trade bait suggestions.

    don’t forget to spring forward tonight, tomorrow’s game might be scheduled for noon thirty, but it will feel like 11:30. i’ll be watching from glory days where i’ll be enjoying wings thanks to thursday’s gloriousness. more of that, please.

  • JenniferH

    Exactly what happened to me. I work overnight shifts, so I generally skip the matinee games when I have to watch the feed. But after the blow-out/Ovi hat trick, I made sure to get up for this. I wish I’d kept on sleeping. 🙁

  • Rhino40

    I’ll take a skinny vente hazlenut frap…

    Oh crap…

    It’s a trap!!!