The Washington Capitals needed a win on Friday to avoid their third four-game losing streak of the season. You’d think they could get it against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but you’d be wrong.
To make matters worse, I’m drinking Coors Light, which is a beer in the same way John Erskine is a pro hockey player. Barely.
Tom Wilson nullified a Caps’ powerplay to make it four-on-four, and soon after that, John Carlson’s trip made it four-on-three for the Jackets. James Wisniewski made the Caps pay for that, and then Cam Atkinson made it 2-0 before the first intermission after Dmitry Orlov was unable to clear the crease.
Ryan Johansen scored for Lumbus early in the second, chasing Grubauer from net and bringing in fresh-faced Braden Holtby. With the help of Martin Erat and some traffic up front, John Carlson got a long puck past Bobrovsky at the halfway point. The Caps had a flicker of life.
Mark Letestu extinguished that flicker with a snazzy near-side goal early in the third. Then Cam Atkinson peed on the embers.
Blue Jackets beat Caps 5-1. The Caps have lost four games in a row. This beer tastes awful.
So I’ve gotta recap this shit? *Cracks open new can*
- Tom Wilson, I am disappoint. The Caps were coasting to a powerplay thanks to some hard work in the offensive zone, but Wilson couldn’t resist roughing up Corey Tropp, costing his team the man-advantage and setting up CBJ for a lead they were glad to take. Another bad penalty for a player we hoped had more to his game than this. Tom Wilson averages seven minutes of ice per game, so my question is this: if Adam Oates punishes him by taking away his shifts, how are we supposed to tell?
- Milestones: Brooks Laich‘s 600th NHL game. Martin Erat‘s 500th NHL point. My first Coors Light since college. Marcus Johansson‘s first NHL PIM of the season, a weak hook if you ask me.
- Weak calls travel in pairs, as Mike Green for a hold at the end of the second period that looked eerily like good hockey defense. Mark Letestu scored on that powerplay.
- Wait, nevermind. They travel in threes, like celebrity deaths. Ovechkin’s weak-ass cross-check expired just as Cam Atkinson made it 5-1.
- Alex Ovechkin had seven shots on goal. Even when stuff sucks, he’s working his ass off out there.
- Yeah. Martin Erat returned to the lineup for the first time since January 4th and promptly got promoted up a couple lines as Adam Oates searched for chemistry. That’s not cool. That’s like when your ex brings you Qdoba even though you broke up and you’re like, “Sweet! Qdoba! I love Qdoba! Maybe we’re gonna get back together” but no. Oates still hates your guts. Sorry, Marty. I expect Volpatti back on Sunday at MSG.
- Which is worse: That Connor Carrick got in a fight or I drank Coors Light tonight?
- Philipp Grubauer is a promising young dude, but this wasn’t his night. Nor was it a good night for Braden Holtby, who saw ice for the first time since .545 save percentage performance on January 4th. Pretty much no one had a good night. Including me. I drank Coors Light.
I’ll start with the positive. This team is better than this. I’m convinced of it. The Capitals’ win record in the last month is not an accurate indicator of their talent. Their potential to win exceeds their previous record.
So why aren’t they winning? An abundance of mistakes, some bad luck, incomprehensible lineup decisions, and one of the worst depth lineups in the league. The Capitals’ fourth line (when Erat isn’t on it) and the John Erskine/Connor Carrick D-pairings do disservice to the uniform. But those guys weren’t the problem tonight.
I don’t know why the Caps lost this one. I don’t particularly care. I guess that makes me intellectually lazy and bad at my job and wasteful of your time. I’m sorry. I’ll just say what I’ve been saying because I earnestly believe it: the Caps are better than this. They can– even if they have to be better in spite of their coach.
For now, this is a bad hockey team. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
Personal note: I’ll be at the game in New York on Sunday, so Chris Gordon will have recap duties. If you’re going to be in the city and/or at the game, say hi. I’ll be the guy in the Matt Bradley jersey, dreaming of a better hockey team to root for, not drinking Coors Light. That’s for damn sure.
— Grant Zauner (@griz0615) January 18, 2014