Doug Pensinger - Varly

This guy. (Photo: Doug Pensinger)

The Capitals kind of blew it on Saturday night. Easing off the metaphorical gas in the third period, they gave the Coyotes the opportunity to tie the game and end Washington’s winning streak. That was a disappointment and perhaps reason to lower expectations for Sunday night’s date with the Colorado Avalanche. The back half of back-to-back games, following an overtime loss, played in a city where it’s apparently hard to breathe or something: those are the excuses we might sling around to explain the Caps’ performance. Regardless, they definitely weren’t the better team on Sunday, and despite a good rally in the third period, this was pretty much all Avalanche, all the time.

Cody McLeod chipped up the puck up high to beat Braden Holtby in the first. Joel Ward crashed the net to tie it up in the second, but Nick Holden was like nu-uh and tied it back up 30 seconds later. The Capitals couldn’t score on a longer power play, and then P.A. Parenteau put the Avs up 3-1. Gabriel Landeskog got the dagger with under two minutes left.

Avalanche beat Caps 4-1.

  • The Capitals were not prepared for this game. The Avs dominated the first period, exploiting a bevy of Caps goofs. Alex Urbom overcommitted early on, giving the Avs a near-goal that dribbled past the crease. Nate Schmidt missed an assignment on the next shift, allowing McLeod to get a backhand chip shot from the high slot.
  • About that first goal. If Bordelau got it– as the score sheet says– he certainly hit it above the crossbar. If McLeod was the only one who got a touch, the goal would be clean. Since the Colorado scorer says it’s Bordelau’s goal, I have a hard time reconciling that information. Check out this slow-mo GIF via Freedoooom (whom you should all be nicer to in the comments!)
  • By the end of the 1st, the Avs attempted 22 shots to Washington’s 8. The Caps didn’t force Semyon Varlamov to make a save until 10 minutes in– and I think Varly was being a bit charitable to play Ovechkin’s wrister.
  • The Caps did much better in the second and third, which says to me the Caps weren’t quite ready for this one. That’s understandable given they were playing back-to-back games on the road– the first game going 45 minutes longer than expected. Then again, the “Hey, you’re a professional athlete” card kind of nullifies that excuse.
  • I try not to go to the “Refs Suck” well too often, but theses refs suuuuuuuuuuuuucked. Troy Brouwer got clipped up high in the first. Jason Chimera got kinda-sorta boarded in the first. Marcus Johansson got held in the first. Alex Ovechkin got high-sticked in the second. Martin Erat got boarded in the third. No calls on those, but as soon as Jason Chimera had a sassy mouth he got marched off to the penalty box. Paul Devorski, in case you were wondering.
  • The Caps’ penalties in the first and second periods came between 4 and 6 minutes in– before the ice in Denver devolved into something you’d pour high-fructose corn syrup into at a 7-11. Good ice: Avs on attack. Crummy ice: Caps lose passes on the rush.
  • I didn’t do any of my push-ups tonight. My bad. Cheat day.
  • Jan Hejda tripped Alex Ovechkin and shoved his head into the corner boards late in the second period. I’m not sure I breathed for a couple minutes there. Ovechkin was almost motionless on the ice before eventually skating to the bench under his own power. Ovi had some choice words for the no-call, and took the ice a shift later. Russian Machine Never Breaks. Denver fans applauded Ovi once he got up and booed him once he got back on the ice. That’s the way it should be.
  • The thing where the Caps score and then give up a goal on the next shift is literally the worst thing in the world.
  • Except maybe for the thing where the Caps have gone 11 straight 5v3 without a goal. The Caps lead the league in 5v3 ice time and have no goals– including almost a whole minute of two-man advantage in the third period. “Five-on-three, four-on-three, it’s something that we don’t practice a ton.” Well, why the heck not?!
  • Mike Green hungers. He hasn’t scored yet this season, but if he keeps putting 7 pucks on net like he did tonight, it’ll happen.
  • Sydney Leroux Alex Ovechkin kicked in a big goal late in the third, but Devorski was actually reffing on that play.
Joe B suit of the night: pattern-mixing fashion rebel!

Joe B suit of the night: pattern-mixing fashion rebel!

It would’ve been really swell if the Caps won this game, but the Avs were just better all over. They were faster, they dealt with the bad ice better, they didn’t turn the puck over in neutral, and oh yeah they scored more too. They might be a better team than the Caps. I just shivered as I typed that.

Alright, gut check time. The upcoming schedule is scary. After the Blue Jackets, it goes like this: Red Wings, Blues, Penguins. The Caps have done everything right to escape that sluggish start, and now it’s time to prove what they’ve learned. Those teams aren’t schlubs, and without their very best hockey the Capitals could go winless in the next ten days.

Game on.

Hey, I made it through this whole thing without libeling Semyon Varlamov!

  • Chris Cerullo

    Horrid performance by the officials tonight. No wonder the Avs have the record they do getting away with that kind of obstruction.

  • William

    Can’t complain about offense tonight. D made some bad decisions, cost us the game. Damn.

  • Jack Conness

    I thought the Caps looked pretty solid tonight. Much better 5 vs 5. BUT, the ice was awful tonight. Puck was bouncing everywhere and guys were falling left and right. The refs were also real bad. I saw a lot of trips, high sticks, interference, etc. that was not called.

    Just gotta put this loss behind them.

    Also, why the hell can’t they score 5 on 3?

  • Denis Carmo

    Avs fans booing the Great 8, how creative…

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Whelp, glad I couldn’t watch this one.

  • Awful start to the first. Good rally in the third.

  • Red

    Absolutely disgusting officiating. Tough loss.
    Great8Beard. That man deserves a medal of some sort.

  • William

    Varly Great in net too. Avs seem to have a lot of guys who can skate.

    Caps-All forward lines were going tonight. 1st+4th playing hard. Erat with passion.
    Oh, backstrom needs to shoot more.

  • Matt

    One thing I noticed on 5 on 3 is that they change their formation from the 1-3-1 to the Umbrella formation, with Brouwer and Ward in front of the net instead of just one of them in front and Mojo behind the net in the 1-3-1. Taking away the extra passer could be what is killing them. Anyway, I wonder if there is a team dumb enough to take an extra penalty so they can play 5 on 3 instead of 5 on 4.

  • Matt Root

    Is Neuvy blame still the trendy thing to do? Looking for you FoolsRushIn. Hate seeing two talented goalies doing all they can to keep the Caps in the game, only to be hung out to dry. Poor Braden and Neuvy.

    It’s the same feeling after every game. Where is Dima? What purpose does it serve to take him out of Hershey, just to have him suited up in street clothes? Hoping he gets a chance sometime soon. #unleashDIMA

    Pretty sure every Cap fan, or hockey fan for that matter, could see all the missed calls. One or two will happen, but this was just atrocious. Now with every team having an Ovi spy on the Caps PP, the playmakers (Backy, Mojo, Grabo) need to start teeing off.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Ok, so… Joe B and Locker actually know their fashion is horrible, right? As in this is a big unspoken joke that has been going on for uncountable years?

    (I have nothing else to say about the game – it was just bad all around.)

  • OlietheGoalie

    If they think he was embellishing, then I don’t know what to tell them beyond “your coach is a dick”. Ovie’s head almost went through the damn boards. I’d be motionless too.

  • William

    Great Comment

  • if you can find out what’s up with 5 on 3, you let us know — right after you tell Adam

  • Ben Reed

    Horrible first period, but I thought the Caps controlled the second two, just couldn’t get anything by Varly.

    The Avs are FAAAASSST.

  • Justin

    Difficult to watch this one tonight with the bad ice and even worse officiating. The Caps are like an old car, struggling to get the engine going in the first period of games, looking extremely discombobulated early on. Not sure what can be done to sort this out, because we can’t keep spotting other teams a lead.

  • Yo8

    After that very sobbing and convincing interview I kind of stop being angry with Varly so I was rooting for him like I always do with the ex-Russian caps players and especially because a lot of people here love to hate on them.

    I hate to see the caps lose but when you guys open your mouths when we play against Varly and Sasha you drive me to root for them.

    Sorry I’m not sorry.

  • Matt Root

    Do you have a link to the interview? Was it tonight’s post-game or a separate one?

  • Yo8

    I’m not talking about Varlamov.

  • RESmith

    I’m starting to think that teams’ strategies to kill the Caps’ power play will become just to take an additional penalty and have them play 5-on-3.

  • Matt Root

    What on Earth are you talking about? Sobbing and convincing interview, then you’re not angry with Varly. WHAT IS GOING ON

  • Yo8

    Nothing is going on. He hasn’t spoke about it and I doubt he will until the end of the trial. Just search for the updates of his case and you will see what I’m talking about.

  • johnnymorte

    GMGM plays with monkey balls. Varlamov is looking like a stud out there, holy god. He has grown up to be a fine goalie, and a masterful keeper of women. Between our pipes, it could have been glory. McPhee I shun you.

  • Myan

    Avs are a good team but they definitely get a lot of calls their way. I thought we played a good game but Varlamov was just a little sharper than Holts tonight. The only thing more atrocious than the reffing tonight was everybody singing Varly’s praises…the dude knocked his girlfriend out. Doesn’t matter how you slice it, that’s f@$&ed up.

  • Avsforlife

    Love the fact that you neglected to tell about the no call on Duchene’s break away that should have resulted in a penalty shot in the first or the football type tackle on Dutchy in the third that went unnoticed as well. Ovi is a pansy!! He should have gotten a delay of game for lying on the ice motionless (no blood, not so much as a bump). Avs dominated that entire game! You have no hope when you can’t score a goal in a 5 on 3 situation. Twist and turn it however you need to in order to make yourselves feel better! Ovechkin and the caps sucked!

  • Jack Conness

    Haha wishful thinking.

  • Jack Conness

    You are totally right. Teams will start having a guy attached to Ovi at the hip on PP. I want to see Backstrom take off on that PP and start shooting. Same with Greenie.

  • araporrada21

    Went to the game, Avs are a whole different team under Roy, If Chima is an ice cheetah then Duchene is a sailfish, that man can skate.
    When Ovi took a hit it felt like he laid there for a period, scary stuff but the fans did not take it well when after all that he was back on ice. Lots of boos but lots of brave caps fans rocking the red, all in all glad they sold beer!
    Till next time

  • Matt Root

    Possible head trauma hits aren’t always going to leave visible markings. Actually, it’s more likely not to. Today’s player safety in all sports advocates waiting for medical staff before getting up with head hits.

    Also, sorry that one Duchene hit wasn’t called. As a Cap fan watching that game, I too can relate to the frustration of seeing the other team get away with penalties. Happened repeatedly, in fact. Sorry about that one time.

    Lastly, this is a Capitals fansite. I wouldn’t stumble upon an Avalanche fan-made blog to read in-depth analysis about how the refs were awful despite it favoring their team. So having the idea in mind that Capital fan bloggers will spend their time focusing on the other team and not the Caps is… well… actually right on par with how you’ve come across on this board already. Dumb. Also, direct quote from the article:

    “It would’ve been really swell if the Caps won this game, but the Avs were just better all over. They were faster, they dealt with the bad ice better, they didn’t turn the puck over in neutral, and oh yeah they scored more too. They might be a better team than the Caps.”

    Kind of puts a kink in your victim theory.

  • What Matt said about head injuries.

    Duchene got a shot off, so the scoring opportunity wasn’t denied and a PS wasn’t justified.

    The Avs didn’t dominate the whole game. They were actually pretty awful at the top of the third.

    And man, if you didn’t read the part in this recap where I rip into the Caps for sucking early in this game and again on the 5-on-3, then you didn’t read this recap.

  • remrats

    Funny that you would call Duchene Dutchy instead of Duchy.

  • Matt

    “and a masterful keeper of women.” WHAT?! That has to be the worst thing I have ever read.

  • Matt

    Why don’t you run head first into the boards and see how long it takes to get up. So there was one missed call for Duchene? Your Avs got away with penalties THE ENTIRE GAME, in addition to you having one of the worst ice surfaces in the league.

  • riggorules

    I think the 2-1-2, or whatever you’d call it, is the issue. They get away from the umbrella of Ovi-Green-Backstrom on 5-on-3 and just have Ovi-Green as points. To me, this makes it easier for three defenders to block shooting lanes, and doesn’t force the defense to “take away” 8 on the left circle. Put Ovi back in the Ovi spot, Green in the middle, and there should be acres of ice on the right for the three other Caps to exploit.

  • Jack Conness

    I read over this again and I was thinking…who would you replace on D for Orlov to play? Green has been a little off this season but not awful. Carlson has been out there for a lot of goals against but you can’t take him out. Alzner is probably their best D-man. I really like Nate Schmidt this season (minus the Phoenix game). I am also a big Oleksy fan, who I think plays the puck well and plays solid D. And I think Urbom has been a pleasant addition. While I totally agree with you in thinking Orlov should play, I have no idea who they would replace him with.

  • bskillet

    I wouldn’t call the Av’s better just better last night which isn’t a surprise flying to phoenix for 65 mins. then taking off for CO. and facing a very fast team, yes the refs were horrible almost ridiculous but we were outplayed.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Wasn’t able to watch the game, but something I had been noticing is that Laich has been having a tendency to jump offsides. Did he do that this game? Doesn’t really help the slumping second line if guys go offsides everytime they got a developing chance.

    IMHO, the third line is really the second line.