Senators beat Caps 3-1 to Close Out 2013

Oleksy face  - Jana Chytilova

Leksy’s face. (Photo: Jana Chytilova)

After losing to Buffalo despite dominating play on Sunday, the Capitals hoped to close out 2013 with a road win in Ottawa. Unfortunately, without the whole “goals” part of hockey, wins are hard to come by. Prepositions are easy to end sentences with.

Joel Ward notched his 12th of the year just two minutes in as Craig Anderson deflected his shot (which was going wide) into the Ottawa net. The Sens stuck back with a two-on-one series executed by Mika Zibanejad. In the second, Kyle Turris put the Sens up with a gorgeous goal, shaking off a hook and tricking Grubauer before scoring. The Caps couldn’t beat Anderson in a late-game flurry, and Clarke MacArthur got the empty netter. The Caps have dropped their last game of the year.

Sens beat Caps 3-1. Goodnight, 2013.

  • Martin Erat recorded his 12th 5v5 assist on Joel Ward‘s no-look goal, tying him with Mikhail Grabovski for the team lead. Trade the bum!
  • Chris Neil put a big hit on Alex Ovechkin in the first period. The Russian machine did not break, but Neil retreated to the locker room. Ovi is obviously made of sturdier stuff, and I’d like to know what his mom is feeding him. Chris Neil did not return to the game.
  • Who wasn’t bad on the Mika Zibanejad goal? Orlov made an unwise pinch, Green continued his ineptness dealing with odd-man rushes, and Troy Brouwer and Eric Fehr coasted through neutral instead of hustling. Everybody deserved their Milbury Minus™ on that play, though I have a feeling Dmitry Orlov will catch the most flak for it.
  • Kyle Turris‘ goal was a beauty. We can get hung up on whose fault it was, but we should also appreciate the pretty hockey moves. Credit where it’s due.

  • The guy running the PA at Canadian Tire Centre is a Miley Cyrus fan, eh? Heard a little bit of Taylor Swift too. Ahh, apparently they were playing Billboard’s top 30 of 2013.
  • The fourth line was pretty solid, particularly when the Caps were rallying for a comeback in the second period. Frequent target Aaron Volpatti actually lifted the Caps’ possession numbers tonight.
  • John Erskine. It’s hard for me to articulate anything about him that you don’t already know. I just kind of want to acknowledge his presence here, wallow in it for a second, and then move on. If you’ve got something you want to say about it, that’s what the comments are for. I’ll just be here, doing either my wallow thing or moving-on thing.
  • The Caps went 65 minutes on Sunday without going down a man because they had the puck practically the whole time. That didn’t happen with the Senators on Monday as the Caps got dinged four times, including twice in the third period. Those PKs deprived the team of critical comeback time.
  • Martin Erat almost scored. That’s bullet-worthy, I guess. Right?
Joe B suit of the night: brown!

Joe B suit of the night: brown!

Basically, Craig Anderson got a shutout. The only guy who could score on him …was himself. Joel Ward just happened to get credit for it. Despite looking excellent in the middle frame, the Caps couldn’t convert. Not the end of the world, just the year. There’s no need to panic or shake stuff up just because Ovi went goalless in four games. He put 31 shots on goal for crying out loud. It’ll come.

But so ends the hockey schedule for 2013. This time one year ago we didn’t even think there would be any hockey, so there’s item number one to be happy about. Item two is easy as well: Alex Ovechkin, who scored a goal or two here and there. After that, it gets complicated. The Capitals took a solid win percentage out of 2013, but there’s so much more they’re capable of achieving.

2014 will be a crucible. The team will undoubtedly change and so too will its fortunes. Alex Ovechkin will chase history. And in a few months we’ll see the Metro division in its full glory: a playoff chase against our team’s rivals.

Plus, we’ll be there, writing about hockey, fiving high, cracking wise. I hope you’ll join us.

  • Cooper

    Gruby for vezina?

  • Matt Fine

    Joe B and Locker discussing “semantics” and bad hair days was certainly exciting

  • John

    as good as this team can play sometimes, its becoming clear what we saw tonight is what we should expect for the majority of the games left in the season. Its crazy how much talent Ottawa has on their roster compared to ours. Id trade half our guys for players like Karlsson, Ryan, Turris, and Zibanejad.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Ovie no scoar? Not a lot of power plays? = Loss

  • Matt

    Really? Outside of the guys you mentioned Ottawa isn’t that good.

  • JenniferH

    We’re still 2nd in the Metro standings (yet crappy division, but we’re still 2nd), and there is well more than half a season to go, I refuse to think the season is over. We can turn things around. With Neuvy requesting a trade, Oates is probably playing Grubi now to make sure he’s NHL-ready over a stretch since he’s not going to be sent back to the AHL most likely but will be sticking around. Unfortunately, places are still be putting into place and we’re not quite gelling yet, but I still have faith.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Has anyone else requested a trade yet?
    (I kid, I kid)

  • Chris Cerullo

    Has anyone else requested a trade yet?
    (I kid, I kid)

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

    and Bradley!

  • John

    beat us didnt they?

  • bskillet

    Wow, have to practice hitting that 6′*4′ opening, several open nets tonight with pucks going high or wide. At least make them have to physically stop a shot, Brouwer missed 3 beauties.

  • Adam Fink

    I’ll be sad when Erat goes, I like him a lot

  • Beans44

    2 games… 84 shots.. 1 goal….

  • Eddie

    And what was with the commentary on the shirtless kid?!

  • Myan

    Our D is nowhere near good enough to win a game where we can only score 1 goal. Lots of work to do before Thursday.

  • kemiisto

    Mediocre GM and mediocre coach = no chances in (and maybe even for) play-offs.

  • OVECHKING

    Love it. A few weeks ago, a contributor on this website mentioned that the first line’s even strength production was just an anomaly and people here were using “luck” as an excuse as to why the caps are such a crappy team at even strength. A few weeks have passed an the same trends from, not just the start of the year but going back TWO years to hunter hockey, have shown that Majo – 19 – 8 just don’t work.

    Don’t tell that to folks who look at corsi and other ‘advanced stats’. They only see numbers and seem completely oblivious to on ice play. All it takes is someone to watch 10 minutes of the caps play at 5on5 to see they are just not a good team at even strength. Lots of issues there but biggest is personnel. Its been like this for the last 2 seasons. Ovechkin hasn’t been a top 10 ESP in the league for a while now.

    This caps team has brought out ‘superhuman’ efforts from Miller and Anderson who goaltend on the worst and one of the worst hockey teams in the league. Somehow, this “hot goalie”: excuse continues to be thrown out there like the caps are the only team that face this type of ordeal. Cue the playoffs, I bet Steve Mason shuts this team down and those same red rockers and ted leonsis will be posting about how great the caps played and just got beaten by a hot goalie. These advanced stats wont tell you the quality of shots taken. Anyone who watched the last two games knows that the majority of those 80+ shots were perimeter low risk shots that were given up by the opposing team’s defense because that’s how Buf/Ott plays. NEWS FLASH: Its not the other team, its the caps that aren’t a good team. Mediocre is where they are at and that first line is horrible.

  • kemiisto

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • kemiisto

    The last word in your message tells enough: faith, which is always irrational, is the only thing a Caps fan can have right now. To trust in Oates system is just impossible, since it clearly doesn’t work. So, no we can’t turn things around and refusing it won’t help.

  • Ash

    Gotcha. We’re doomed. We’re halfway through the season, still in playoff contention, with the leading goal scorer, with the a top three assists leader, and a lot of hockey left to play, and the Caps can’t turn it around. Glad you stopped by, Nostradamus.

  • JenniferH

    Exactly. Not to mention our two hot young goalies. And Grabo… and Wardo… and Fehrsie.

  • JenniferH

    Faith is not a bad thing. Faith comes from somewhere. And note I didn’t say blind faith. My faith is based on the fact that we’ve turned things around before and we’re only halfway through (not even), and as Ash said below we’ve got some good things, nay, great things on our team. We’re far from over and to throw the towel in now as if it’s all said and done, well, that’s shooting the horse before it even tripped over the rock.

  • Ash

    I don’t disagree that the Caps are playing mediocre right now, but the top line is really pretty far from the largest problem. Or playing horribly. Nor should you dismiss Miller or Anderson’s effort or talent because they play on bad teams; in fact, isn’t it more logical to realize that a goalie on a poor team is going to have to play pretty insane to keep their team in it? The Caps have had similar poor efforts earlier in the season where their goaltender was the only thing holding them in it.

    Nor should you dismiss that Ovechkin’s ES goals (18) are above his PP goals this season (12). Nor should you dismiss Backstrom being the third highest points scorer in the NHL over the past month of December. Johansson is is a slump. I’d like to see him break out of that. But given his youth and the improvements he’s made over the last year, I don’t think it’s at all impossible or improbable he’ll come out of it. And their line is really not the problem.

    Nor should you dismiss that stats are helpful at predicting and identifying trends, or the people who enjoy tracking them. Look, dude. We ALL watch the games. Numbers and stats people watch the games. People who don’t care about numbers watch the games. We all see different things, because we all focus on different aspects. Sometimes, we focus too much or too little on certain things– hello, plus/minus, for example– and that can contribute to being biased. It’s all about finding a balance, and insulting one side of the camp does nothing.

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

    Nope

  • kemiisto

    Stop watching hockey, you don’t understand it. It is a team game, so leading goal scorer and assist leader won’t help when, say, a defense core is just terrible. Or a coach is not of NHL calibre. And it actually already proven by Caps.

  • kemiisto

    Faith is always blind. Do not want to go deeper. Could you please give us a particular example of turning things around by Caps in last, say, 5 years? I do remember only one perfect example, but it was due to coach change.

  • JenniferH

    I’ve only been watching hockey since the 2011 playoffs, but I can name 3, admittedly 2 are coaching changes (from what I heard) Dale Hunter. Then Oates’ work with the team, and then last season, the turn-around leading into the play-offs, and that was the team gelling. So yes, it can happen.

    We have some great players on this team. We have the top goal-scorer in the lead, we have one of the top assist-leaders. We have a great goalie, and an up and coming great goalie who have both shown they can face a multitude of heavy shots. We’ve got strong players in Grabovski, Fehr, Ward and Chimera. We’ve got up and comers in Orlov and Wilson. And when this team is firing on all cylinders they are amazing.

    THAT is what my faith is based upon. You are NOT going to change my opinion with your pessimism and lack of faith (ooh, such a dirty word!) with more than half a season left when we are STILL second in our division.

    So, yes, I have faith.

  • JenniferH

    What right do you have to tell someone to stop watching something they love? I didn’t understand (and freely admit there is a lot I don’t understand about it now) when I sat down and watched my first game, but I got swept up into it and I became a fan. We watch the game because we love it, not because we “understand” it. My goodness!!!

  • JenniferH

    I’ve only been watching hockey since the 2011 playoffs so I can’t go back five years, but I can name three from the last few. Admittedly two are coaching changes. From what I heard, a change came with Dale Hunter, and then Oates’ work with the team. Then last season, the great turn-around leading them into the play-offs (as aborted as it was, they still *did* make the play-offs), and that was the team gelling. So yes, it can happen.

    We have some great players on this team. We have the top goal-scorer in the league, we have one of the top assist-leaders. We have a great goalie, and an up and coming great goalie who have both shown they can face a multitude of heavy shots. We’ve got strong players in Grabovski, Fehr, Ward and Chimera. We’ve got up and comers in Orlov and Wilson. And when this team is firing on all cylinders they are amazing.

    THAT is what my faith is based upon and it’s gonna hold a bit longer into the season. You are NOT going to change my opinion with your pessimism and lack of faith (ooh, such a dirty word!) with more than half a season left when we are STILL second in our division.

    So, yes, I have faith.

  • kemiisto

    To summarise: coaching change is necessary to turn the things around. And one more time: great teams with great coaches win the Cup, great players win personal trophies.

  • JenniferH

    You missed the fact that the team gelled months after the coaching of Oates and turned things around to go on a stretch and make it into the playoffs last season. That wasn’t a coaching change. So, no, that was not a summary of what I said.

    Again, you are not going to change my mind with more than half a season left. With a few months left in the season, the Capitals turned things around beautifully last season, went on a streak and shocked everyone by landing in the play-offs. So, until we’re done, I’m not ready to say we’re done. Nothing you or anyone else says will make me change my mind until we’re closer to the end of the season to give up on this season yet.

  • kemiisto

    I don’t want to change your mind. Life will do that. Just continue to watch Caps hockey and the day will come.

  • JenniferH

    So not worth it.