Photo: Alex Brandon
It has been eleven long days since the Capitals won a game. We’ve had like three or four completely different seasons of weather since the last time they added a point to the standings and after a sparsely attended sixty minutes in snowy Washington, D.C., that streak is gonna get even longer. You’ll be planting succulents and buying beach towels before these guys win again.
Skip this paragraph. After a scoreless first, Kyle Turris got past Karl Alzner and beat Holtby to put the Senators up 1-0. Jason Spezza scored a powerplay marker in the third while Erat was in the box.
That’s it. The Ottawa Senators beat the Caps 2-0. A shutout. That’s six straight losses for the Capitals.
You look like you need a baby hippo hug. Here’s a baby hippo hug.
Better? No? Me neither.
- Let’s start with the metaphorical elephant in the press box. John Erskine was scratched. I know. I know. I’m scared too. Nate Schmidt took his spot.
- Also scratched: Alex Ovechkin, who is ailing after sustaining a lower-body injury in Manhattan. This turned out to be a material factor in the defeat.
- Mikhail Grabovski probably had no idea losing the puck behind the Ottawa net would lead to the Turris goal. Karl Alzner doesn’t have such an excuse as he kind of overcommitted, basically giving Turris a two on one. Very unlike him.
- That was unfortunate for Braden Holtby, who was pretty solid in his not-so-triumphant return as a starting netminder in Verizon Center. With Philipp Grubauer back in Hershey, this was Holtby’s opportunity to re-establish himself as The Dude in Net Upon Whom Other Dudes Rely (other nickname ideas welcomed). Holtby beat back all but one of many odd-man rushes and he surrendered a powerplay goal. Kind of reasonable, though with the Caps scoring NEVER, the team needed a better-than-perfect goalie to win. Holtby’s numbers (and aggressive positioning) looked good, but they weren’t better-than-perfect. So no W.
- What does the Caps powerplay look like without Ovi’s shot from the Ovi spot? Astonishingly weak. The Caps got a bunch of zone time on their four (4) (FOUR) opportunities, but converted them into neither a bunch of shots nor a single goal. Eric Fehr, who rules, occupied Ovechkin’s side of the ice for a while. Later, Connor Carrick held down the spot. Not in love with that second one.
- Does anyone care about puck possession anymore? Is it just me? Well, I’m just gonna write it here and you can skip it if you want. The Caps kept pace until the third, when it became evident they were not gonna pull this one out.
- Martin Erat was whistled three times in New York on Sunday. Whatever you thought of those, his hook tonight was a good one. Trying to catch up to the odd-man rush (yes, another), Erat got just enough stick on the play to defuse the scoring chance. A smart move, but Jason Spezza converted on the resulting power play anyway.
- Mikhail Grabovski got a clean hit on Zack Smith, but apparently the NHL is filled with offended southern gentlemen who demand satisfaction at every turn. Two Senators mugged him, so Grabo got the claws out. And this time, I’m almost actually being literal. Grabo scratched at Smith’s face, which I suppose is what earned him the 10-minute misconduct call that ended his night. #GraboCares
No sugarcoat. This is bad. The team can’t put the biscuit in the basket, and a basket without biscuits is a bad basket. This losing streak is probably enough to imperil the Caps’ chances at a postseason.
Plus, Alex Ovechkin’s injury did the team no favors, and it just further bolsters a pet hypothesis I’d rather see disproven.
While Adam Oates has done a commendable job getting Alex Ovechkin to bloom again, the rest of the garden needs tending.
Here’s the part where I double down. While the Caps are ice cold, they’re really not playing bad hockey in neutral. Between the blues, the Caps are probably better than they have been at any other point this season. And while these losses are demoralizing, the flatlined team shooting percentage that is causing them is destined to reverse.
This team is going to get better. We’re all cranky little butts right now, but we should know that they’re gonna get better– not as an article of faith, but as the careful conclusion of attentive fans.
You can jump ship now. I won’t blame you if you do. Not everyone is cut out for #DCsprots fandom.
But I’ll tell you this: it’s worth it to weather the rough stuff. And if you stick around, we’ll be right here, sticking with you.
— Brian Mcclure (@mcclureWX) January 22, 2014