Ugh. (Photo: Andy Marlin)
Just like Alex Ovechkin, ya boy Peter was out with an injury tonight. Undisclosed for those asking. I’m nursing the flu. We’re sort of like the Caps of Caps blogs right now.
Embarking on five game road trip with their dads in tow, the Caps headed to newly Cory Booker-less Newark for date with the Devils. Allowing the fewest shots per game in the NHL and featuring the blue-hot Cory Schneider, New Jersey didn’t look like great opponent to get Washington’s hapless offense going. They weren’t. Yep, it’s gonna be one of those again.
As usual these days, the game got off to a horrid start. Five minutes in, Dmitry Orlov made another silly mistake, fumbling the puck in the Caps offensive zone. Steven Gionta and Ryan Carter went the other way on the odd-man break. Shockingly, Mike Green did not misplay the 2-on-1. It wasn’t enough. The puck snuck past Michal Neuvirth off the blade of Gionta.
Early in the second, Adam Henrique put the Devs up by two with Orlov in the box for holding. Jaromir Jagr made the play, fabulously skating through the Capitals defense before feeding the puck in front for his second assist of the game. Facing this Capitals offense, it looked like that was all New Jersey needed.
Jason Chimera, however, had other ideas. Midway through the third, he deflected a John Erskine shot from the point for his third goal in seven games. It wasn’t enough though.
Seven in a row. Devils top Caps 2-1.
- It took 181 seconds for the Caps to continue their streak of boneheaded penalties. It was Martin Erat again, as he committed an offensive zone board. All you can do is roll your eyes. Or cringe. He did set up a great chance by Nicklas Backstrom though.
- Speaking of dumb penalties, Tom Wilson got called for another charging penalty for a hit in the corner. It was a big thump, but might not have been worthy of two minutes. It doesn’t matter. Eric Gelinas had long ago released the puck. Wilson’s hit served no purpose. He was asking for a penalty and he got one. Wilson also got nabbed for a hold later in the game, marking his 100th penalty minute this year. He now ranks 6th in the league in PIMs.
- Dmitry Orlov, you’re killing us. When asked about his spate of recent mistakes, head coach Adam Oates has tried to stay calm, noting that the team has put him in a tough position. The 22-year-old is playing big minutes with Mike Green, Washington’s highest paid defensemen. He’s bound to make mistakes. When the Russian does — especially playing with a similar, offensive-minded player like Green — they will be magnified. The Caps don’t have much of a choice here. They don’t have enough defensive depth to limit his growing pains. But right now, it’s on Dima.
- John Erskine and Connor Carrick were put back together tonight. That third pairing has been the subject much consternation lately, but they looked to be Washington’s best duo on Friday. Great possession, no visible errors. They were on the ice for New Jersey’s PP goal, but I think they played it well enough. Big John even got himself an apple on the team’s lone goal!
- Michal Neuvirth got his third start in eight games. Nether of the two goals against him were particularly bad. He made 28 saves against the Devs.
- Bad news: Mikhail Grabovski is hurt. Crashing the net, Grabo was hauled down in front of the Devils crease. He fell awkwardly and looked to twist his left knee. Not good for Washington third leading points and goal scorer. He didn’t return to the game, playing just 6:19.
- Three shots on goal for Jay Beagle. He was also in front of the net for Washington’s goal. Stud.
- Since last Wednesday’s game in Pittsburgh the Caps have scored three goals. Overall, they have just eight goals in the last seven games. Moreover, three of those were tallied by Ovechkin, who, of course, is out of the lineup right now. The team is getting some good chances. Brooks Laich, Beagle, and others had some great ones tonight. Still, they can’t put the puck in the net, save for the one tally. A lot of that is due their recently pathetic power play. The man-advantage is on a one for 24 streak. You can’t win without goals.
I’ll keep it terse since you already know what’s up. This streak will end eventually. The Caps aren’t that bad. But they also aren’t that good. These seven games may be enough to cost them a playoff spot. Washington now has the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Caps-Habs tomorrow from Montreal. Hopefully you won’t need a high blood alcohol level to get through it.