“Here, You Take the Puck!” Rangers beat Caps 2-0

Greg Fiume

Photo: Greg Fiume

Wednesday night’s bout between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was billed as “Rivalry Night.” I’m not so sure. While the recent Rags and Caps teams have certainly made like Crystal Lake camp counselors– hooking up every May– the games have been as trite as an overcooked slasher flick. Both teams grew more neanderthal and conservative in the last few years, making for some really stifled hockey. Under Adam Oates’ increasingly offensive system and Alain Vigneault’s canuckley deployment, I hold out hope this will change, but nothing about Caps-Rangers gets me excited.

Those feelings, it turns out, were justified. The Capitals put up maybe their worst game of the year.

Scoreless through the midway mark, the Rangers broke through with a sneaky far-off wrister by John Moore and then a close-up skill move by Ryan Callahan.

That was it. Yuck.

Rangers beat Caps 2-0.

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  • First: to all our government employee peeps who will be returning to work: our gratitude and sympathy, and really just a whole big pile of emotion heading in your general direction. Thank you.
  • The Capitals enjoyed a long power-play in the first, including a sizable chunk of 5-on-3 time. They didn’t come away with a goal, but they forced Lundqvist to make 4 saves and they got a ton of zone time. Some might castigate Joel Ward for missing an open net from the back door. If you are one of those folks, please recall that Ward positively sunk a similar but tougher shot last game. If you expect perfection, you are unreasonable and oft-disappointed. Ward’s been doing great, and I’m psyched to see him get more and better ice time. Earn that paycheck, dude.
  • Tom Wilson and Justin Falk dropped gloves in the first period. I don’t wanna repeat myself, so I’ll just share what I said on Twitter and hope you guys catch my feels.
  • I watched exactly 0 seconds of NBCSN’s intermission coverage, so if you’re detecting an air of superiority from me, that’s only because I’m feeling really smug about it. NBC’s coverage was atrocious:  missed camera angles, goofed player names (we do that too, but we don’t get paid a lot of money), and misunderstood calls. You know it’s bad when I can drop a triple on them without even mentioning Pierre.
  • The Rangers are the worst possession team in the entire league, yet they dramatically outshot the Capitals. The main reason for that seems to be the Caps’ inability exit their own zone. The Caps went long stretches — more than five minutes at one point– in that god-awful second period without doing anything at all in the offensive zone– allowing the Rangers to get 15 consecutive, unanswered shot attempts.
  • Here’s the John Moore goal, which capped off a freaking truckload of zone time for New York:

  • Troy Brouwer put his shoulder into Derek Stepan‘s head early in the third. It was a blind hit, and Stepan was apparently injured. There are two schools of thought: a) Troy was watching the puck and unaware of his or Stepan’s positions as he skated towards the bench, b) That’s a dirty hit and Brouwer should get suspended. Put me in the second group (3-game suspension), though I welcome more evidence.
  • Why are my recaps so long this season?
  • Eddie Olczyk predicting that Adam Oates would shuffle his lines after the second period cracks me up. The coverage we get out of Joe, Craig, Al, and Alan is just miles better.
  • Jason Chimera lost his wheels in the third period, hitting the board pretty hard. He went to the locker room after that and never returned. If that’s the event that gets Martin Erat off the fourth line, I’m not so mean as to say I’m grateful. I’m probably just gonna think it and keep it to myself.
  • Alex Ovechkin didn’t score, but he’s doing exactly what he needs to do: shooting like crazy. He put 8 shots on goal tonight– keeping himself on pace to shatter the single-season shot record (and probably crack 50 goals). Please perform a sample-size sanity check after reading this bullet point.
  • Someone cook Braden Holtby a casserole. He was excellent tonight– it’s just that his team left him out to dry like laundry that is wet so you leave it out so that it dries. Ya know, I don’t think I get that metaphor.
Ted Cruz suit of the night

Ted Cruz suit of the night

I know this is a broken record, but the season is still early and I still doubt it’ll keep going like this. If it does, the Capitals will have their first losing season since 2006-07. I’m confident that won’t happen, but I’m curious when the inevitable turnaround will actually occur.

Adam Oates has clung to his lines though seven games, all the while trying to create precious chemistry. My worry is that chemistry has already been reached, and it’s just as inert as a noble gas:

  1. Marcus Johansson does not shoot– ever, making Alex Ovechkin’s line pretty one-dimensional.
  2. Troy Brouwer, the team’s weakest possession player, is doing nothing to exploit Mikhail Grabovski’s play-driving.
  3. Ward-Chimera-Fehr, surprisingly, is solid.
  4. The fourth line doesn’t play enough to draw any conclusions except for us to marvel at the desolation that is Washington Capital Martin Erat.

The good news is that the Capitals’ opponents are pretty bad hockey teams through the end of the month. No more waiting. As Lucas from Empire Records quoted that drunken buffoon Jim Morrison: “The time for hesitation is through.”

I’m taking Saturday night off to do the standing still at the Dismemberment Plan concert at the 9:30. Your boy Chris Gordon will provide coverage of Saturday night at the Blue Jackets, who I’m told are an actual hockey team.

Ugh.

Please share your thoughts below. Give us something to feel good about, please.

  • dylan wheatley

    this was an extremely bad hockey game by the hockey team,washington Capitals.

  • Denis Carmo

    I’ll say it again: Take away Ovechkin, this team has nothing. Get Mojo off the 1st line, give Erat more ice time and teach the D how to clear pucks

  • Josh Carey

    How much harder does Erat have to play to get promoted? Once again I thought he was the best on the ice tonight (aside from maybe Ovi and Holts). Would love to see what he can do instead of Mojo with Nicky and Ovi.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Still want to tell me you’re fine with this?

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

    There’s no way you guys read it. You just went right down to comments, eh?

  • Chris Cerullo

    Gotta vent haha

  • Priscilla

    Ted Cruz needs a stylist. Amongst other things.

  • Josh Carey

    I saw Holtby and casserole.

  • Sam

    Erat should replace Mojo on top line. Mojo should be shopped cuz he’s worthless and we have zero dmen. Carlson and alzner look like they actually have regressed. It’s the same ahit different year with this team. They haven’t changed. No dmen, no productive 2nd line and turnovers turnovers. Each year this team looks the same regardless of the coach. It’s time for GMGM to move on…I’ve been calling for this now for 3 years. How does he still have a job?

  • Brouwer Rangers

    Try watching the tape for evidence on your Brouwer nonsense. https://twitter.com/drosennhl/status/390663606930378752

  • dylan wheatley

    your argument is that this game was evidence of bad management? i saw bad play, by a lot of players who should be playing very well.

  • Inevitable

    Can you imagine if ovechkin played Against the capitals defense? Ovechtrick everytime

  • Alan

    I’ve been saying this for weeks…we need to put Erat at first line LW. Mojo hasn’t proven himself on that line at all in the last 2 years. Erat will at least shoot the puck and get to dirty areas. Plus he’s hitting…what else could you want?

  • HarmCity

    Well, at least we didn’t disrespect the Rangers, right Oates?

    What’s to worry about? Ted said there are no flaws and McPhee says the team is complete and is in the game.

  • Priscilla

    I realllly can’t wait till next season. I need to see Oates in the locker room. I need to understand this.

  • Matt

    I’m going to the game on Saturday. Any ideas for protest signs?

  • Pat Magee

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I absolutely HATE Adam Oates. I make better line combos in NHL 14!!! He’s an idiot coach hired by an idiot GM. <—— totally emotions talking, but I don't care!

  • Priscilla

    Free Erat

  • dylan wheatley

    i want erat on the first line and i want mojo on a fourth line with brouwer and beags

  • Mark

    Ugly hockey. Not in the ugly goal/crash the net sense. That would be good. This was not. Get Mojo off the top line, and get Erat some more ice time.

    Don’t know what to do about the defense though. Maybe the whole team could use some skating drills so they can actually get to some loose pucks.

  • HarmCity

    Fire McPhee? Maybe we can make it a banner and hang it up in the rafters.

  • Sam

    Dude, have you been watching this team for the past few years. That’s what we say year in and year out. We always have this issue.

  • Dave

    just an FYI..

    I watched most of the game, but had to drive in the first half of the 3rd period and streamed the radio broadcast. The Radio broadcast gave a shout out to RMNB, quoting some stat (of course, that’s exactly when the stream was interrupted… something about “15 shots”).

  • hockeybandit315

    1) This team lacks consistency
    2) [Erat – Grabo – Laich] or [Johannson – Grabo – Laich] and put Erat with Ovi and Backstrom.
    3) Someone cut Wardo’s stick
    4) The Capitals enjoy playing in their own zone, so much so, they turn the puck over at every given opportunity.
    5) Rangers may have been struggling, but that doesn’t mean Lundqvist is a bad goalie.
    6) Wilson is the hero that Washington deserves, just not the one that it needs right now.

  • Jonathan Garcia

    You should get a chant going of “change the lines up”

  • Daniel

    not only does Martin Erat need to be promoted, but he should get Mojo’s spot on the first line. together with double-digit-shots-a-night Ovi and Backstrom, he could fuel the trio. He was the only one trying to hustle things tonight. Apart from that, I hated everything about this hockey game. Wake up, Adam.

  • OVECHKING

    How can any fan of this team with a certain level of credibility say that this is a good team? Since the last two weeks of the season extended into the playoffs and into this year… the caps have been a terrible even strength team.
    1) They have no cycle zone time
    2) They have no sustained forecheck
    3) Aside from Ovechkin, there is not another goal scoring threat on the team
    4) Grabbo + second line has really never been effective at all
    5) Marcus Johnasson, Brooks Laich, Jason Chimmera have all severely underperformed given their placement / situation in the line up
    6) oates provides patience for things that have never worked in the past. AKA 90 – 19 – 08 has been together for the better part of 2 years. They have never clicked consistently.
    7) The caps PP has never come up clutch in pressure situations

  • Kelly

    the third line is playing most consistently in regards to each player contributing equally whenever theyre on the ice. mojo has to figure out his shit, or somethings gotta give. whenever the first line is out there its like were down a player. i cant necessarily say i agree with shifting erat from 4th to 1st on a whim but, regardless, serious adjustments need to be made. holtby played well tonight; the rangers are fucking garbage. of all teams, why did we have to lose to them tonight.

  • Priscilla

    And p.s. I’m steamed that we don’t have Matty P. so we could have Tom Wilson. Really really steamed. But hey. My home team is 6-0. F those guys!

  • dylan wheatley

    mcphee’s been with the team for 15 seasons, 10 of those saw the team make the playoffs (inclusing the last 6!), and win their division 7 times (5 of the last 6!)

    that is pretty good managment as far as i’m concerned.

  • BB

    Why so much passing on the PP? Seems we waste a lot of opportunity moving the puck instead of shooting it….

  • Matt Root

    Being out-shot isn’t surprising when the Caps can’t even get into the offensive zone. The breakout is atrocious and instead we watch the opposing team on any given night cycle for days against the Caps.

  • HarmCity

    That’s 6 runs carried by #8 carrying the team on his back with a couple complimentary pieces to the side, but an incredibly fragile blueline, a team weak physically, and half of the teams forwards who cannot excel on the forecheck.

    98 was a team inherited from David Poile and the 00 and 01 team were remaining core pieces that had regressed since. I’ll hand them 2003 for guys like Mike Grier, Robert Lang, and Michael Nylander, but McPhee failed in hiring Cassidy and ultimately tore the team apart a year just after the team had lost faith in Wilson. Sorry, McPhee has got to go. He’s had more than enough time.

  • Matt Root

    I’ll agree that I want Erat more involved, but best player on the ice? Hard to say when he only gets 6 minutes. This isn’t a slam against your point, more of frustration against his misuse.

  • Josh Carey

    Understandable, but lets be honest, no one played well. Laich maybe. But restating my point, for the time he got, I thought he used it the best.

  • Kelly

    passing on the power play has been, by and large, working well for us this season. passing on the power play against a team whose main method of defense is just jumping in front of every effing puck and ultimately blocking every possible passing lane will not end with results in our favor.

  • William Jensen

    Thoughts:

    1. I almost guarantee Wilson is going back to the OHL; Why keep him if he isn’t getting any playing time?

    2. Already said but I’ll reiterate. FREE ERAT. The capitals currently have 2/3 of a first line. And what to do with Mojo? – Who knows maybe shake up the second line or throw him on the fourth line.

    3. We currently have no scoring outside the power play.

    4. Defense needs to be more consistent. I’m looking at you Carlson, you are an elite talent and need to play that way.

  • Matt Root

    Let’s see how many division titles GMGM can muster up with his team while no longer in the SE.

  • Matt Root

    Yeah, I agree. It’s painful to watch Erat be a $3.75 million babysitter for Wilson.

  • Bob

    What happens first, the redskins change their name or Oates making adjustments?

  • Matt Root

    Another interesting situation.. If you associate GMGM within the tier of better GMs, he falls short of achieving any post-season success with his assembled team. Place George in the mediocre tier of GMs, he’s had due chances to excel and yet the Caps, unfortunately, have been stagnant and are wasting away the prime of their “Young Guns”.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett
  • dylan wheatley
  • Matt Root

    To be honest, there isn’t another player not named Ovechkin that has a high level of shooting ability that looks to shoot first. That scoring depth left for Carolina. So for two minutes we watch Backstrom, Green, and Grabo pass around hoping to find an open Ovi from his office despite those same 3 players having lanes to tee off. Green can be an exception, but Backstrom being gun-shy is infuriating.

  • Matt Root

    Like Peter mentioned, Grabbo has no one on the wing taking advantage of his play making ability

  • Chris Cerullo

    So your satisfied with regular season victories and trophies? Ok then.

  • H70

    Put me in this boat. If we lost Matty to keep Wilson, and he goes back to OHL, I will flip my %#$@.

  • maveric101

    $4.5 million.

  • Matt Root

    Ah good call, glanced at the wrong category on capgeek

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

    def FREE ERAT

  • VeggieTart

    I don’t know about a casserole, but I will happily bake Holtby some cupcakes because, well, I’m good at that.

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    There were ghosts in my head as I sat in Verizon Center and watched tonight.

    I thought of Matty P. and his spunk. Did we really get rid of him to make room for Tom Wilson? Wowzers. New rule, as Bill Maher likes to say: Let’s not use a couple of pre-season practices and games to make rash decisions about rookies versus guys who have actually been key members of the team.

    I thought of Mike Knuble. His spirit was hovering tonight in our total lack of follow-up goal crashing. Basically, the position of garbage man has been vacant for two seasons now. Is anyone going to fill it? And Mike was better at cycling, even as a 100-year-old, than some of the guys we have now. So there.

    Don’t yell, ’cause I know you hated him, but I kinda missed Mike Riberio’s loudmouth-ness tonight. Grabo was great in the first game of the season, but since then he’s been okay. I’m glad he’s here and I’m not saying we should turn back the clock, but Ribs had a bad boy quality about him that we could use a little of right now. We seem a bit personality-less right now.

    Missing Hendricks fierceness.

    And the one guy I’m not missing, Erat, played a heck of a game and he’s languishing on the fourth line while MoJo is doing a public skate out there.

    Fair is foul, foul is fair,

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    approval

  • Chris Cerullo

    Watching post game interviews. Mojo needs to shave lol.

  • Chuck

    The Conjuring isn’t nearly as scary as the handling of Martin Erats’ ice time

  • Arggh

    Totally agree. Wilson needs to improve his play in the OHL, not improve his fighting in the NHL. And if you trade a top prospect for a big cap hitting veteran, you should give that guy a chance where he can matter. Carlson sucks and MoJo should be traded. I’m done with him never performing the way he should.Ok, back to happy thoughts; Holtby my man!

  • Red

    Ugh. That is all.

  • Owen Johnson

    FreErat

  • Aeroniero

    Hello, this is my first post on RMNB.
    I’m frustrated like everyone of this team and I don’t understand many of these problems the team has since I have only followed this team and RMNB since 2010-2011 season with playoff failures except the dale hunter season when it was tight 4-3 loss.
    I understand the team is I guess skill/speed/finesse team or something similar right? Shouldn’t teams like these have strong puck possession since it’s not based on being overly physical or such.
    Am I wrong that such a playstyle doesn’t mean automatically mean puck possession?
    Could someone with greater knowledge of this team breakdown this team’s strengths/ supposed strengths?
    Thanks and great site RMNB, please keep it up! Go caps… if they find their mojo to get it going.

  • JOE

    onus has to be on brouwer to avoid stepan there, facing forward while stepan skating backward, away from the puck, cant be slamming into a guys head like that.

  • STFU

    Get a new schtick.

  • picturesandtalk

    @peterhassett:disqus , you may be doing the standing still, but I kind of feel like this team has been listening to Uncanney Valley too much and decided “Let’s just go to the dogs tonight.” What do you think of the record, by the way?

  • JH

    Been thinking about the Caps lines. So here’s a stab:

    First line needs a threat besides just Ovi. Backstrom and MoJo seem allergic to shooting the puck. I realize we want Ovi to get shots, but come on. A shooting threat on the LH side would be welcome. I would say Erat (at least try him for 4-5 games and see), so:

    Erat – Backstrom – Ovi

    Second line: I love Grabo, but he has no one to pass to, it would appear. Brouwer as has been stated is awful at puck possession. Fehr seems to be better at shooting and possession. So, how about this:

    Laich – Grabo – Fehr
    Which brings us to the third line. Let’s put a real center on that line – MoJo. I think he wants to just feed people pucks, and he has speed, for sure. So:
    Chimera – MoJo – Ward
    And then the fourth line you keep Beags as center, put Brouwer on the RW, and not sure what you do about LW, but I’m sure that’s solveable.
    On D, I like the idea of getting the Carlzner band back together.
    Feel free to shoot this down. My main concern is A) MoJo is not.a.shooter – and he’s really a center. B) Erat is a shooter and belongs on a line that shoots.
    Maybe if Oates really wants to keep MoJo on the first line, you just move Erat to LW on the second line and push everyone else on the LW down one – Laich moves to third line and Chimmer to fourth? Gotta figure this out!

  • chris

    We looked better with guys like Byers, Latta, and Wilson beating the hell outta people. I thought after preseason we would be tough to play against. Our team played harder with more enthusiam in the preseason. Why does the hockey media suck in this town. Ask these fools hard questions!

  • Tommy

    Last nights game was hard to watch. But, at least now the team is to blame and not the absurdly perverse reverse wherein the team is good but OV sucks and that’s why we lose. If this season is a bust, I hope its personally successful for OV. Although, I would hate to waste a good season from our best player.

  • Myan

    If I had a dollar for every time the NBC commentator called Staal by either of his brothers’ names, I’d have $3.

  • BearsWooooo

    What breakout? The Caps have no breakout. The only actual breakout play they run is the stretch, which by the way, they are really bad at….

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

    Haha.

    I love it! My physical CD just arrived today. I love “Living in Song”– make me smile. D Plan is my fave.

    You?

  • johnnymorte

    Brouwer had a lot of puck luck last year. Doesn’t look like the LGB line is really clicking. JoJo is freakin’ invisible out there, and Erat is a friggin’ board master and he’s doomed to the cellar. WHY! BECAUSE HE HAS BLOND HAIR AND IS NOT SWEDISH! It’s a friggin’ mess out there! I want to vomit.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja n a

    That was some of the worst Caps hockey in ever … definitely worst this season. And poor Marc Staal … overshadowed by his brothers who play for the Hurricanes. They couldn’t get his name straight if they were paid. Which … oh … they are.

  • Rhino40

    I propose these forward lines:

    Erat (shoots Left)-Bäckis-Ovechkin
    Laich-Grabovski-Chimera
    Brouwer-Ward-Fehr
    Wilson-Beagle-Volpatti (trade MaJo)

    Thoughts, anyone?

  • Roman Z.

    Ribeiro? Yeah like we need more stupid penalties …

  • Roman Z.

    Brouwer on the 4th, he’s garbage!

  • JH

    Love Chimmer but don’t think he’s 2nd line guy.