Photo: Gregory Shamus
It was right around this time last year the Washington Capitals kicked off a hot streak that lofted them to the postseason. Losing twice in as many days to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps don’t look like liable to do that again.
The Penguins aren’t a great team. They’re way top-heavy on offense and somewhat disadvantaged on defense, but they’re still way way better than the Caps– both in composition and execution.
Evgeni Malkin sort of owned an offensive-zone shift against Orlov and the top line, releasing an actual perimeter shot that Jussi Jokinen delected in. That was all the goal-scoring we got until Crosby beat Orlov, Carrick, and Halak to make it 2-0 with five minutes left. The Caps mounted a little comeback attempt, but forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.
Pens beat Caps 2-0.
- The first period went mercifully quickly. I counted almost 14 minutes without a stoppage, which put me in a trance-like, robotripping-while-watching-David-Lynch-movies kinda state. The action was “end-to-end” so long as one of those ends was the Pittsburgh blue line. The Penguins doubled up the Pens in shot attempts in the first.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov had an excruciating chance in the second period. The puck went off the post– and then probably Marc Andre Fleury’s skate blade on its way to not-inside-the net. Another flashy game by the new guy.
- The Capitals got their assess thoroughly kicked on the faceoff dot, which is kind of what you expect when you’ve got Eric Fehr pretending he’s not a winger.
- Adam Oates started Jaroslav Halak in net despite having zero-days rest. Strategery or no, Halak was lovely again– especially on a third-period save on Sidney Crosby. Yet, however good Halak is, I doubt he’s better without rest than a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Braden Holtby. I’m gonna anticipate a comment: Holtby stinks (.874 save percentage) against the Penguins. I don’t really care. 119 shots makes that much more trivia than prophecy. I’d rather see a balanced tandem of rested goalies than gambling on a hot hand.
- Speaking of gambling, I kinda enjoyed the decisions made by the random-number generator picking the lines and pairings in the second period. We had unmitigated chaos for a while, which I think is preferable to the disheartening tedium we’ve seen since December.
- Jay Beagle looked good in an over-sized role as second-line center. Ian said he played like a junkyard dog, and I’m not sure he intended the irony.
- Kuznetsov drew a huge penalty midway through the third– deftly attracting Matt Niskanen‘s stick towards his babyface. Another noob, Olli Maatta, tricked the refs into neutralizing the power play a minute in with a real soft call on Nick Backstrom. That power play could’ve been very important. I guess it ended up important in its own way, but that way is not a good way.
- Go ahead and trash Mike Green all you want below, but he was in the Pens zone twice as much as they were in his. Yes, he’s not what he used to be, but who is? I’m sure not. I used to be funny and giddy and hyperbolic in these recaps. Now I feel like the Great Gildersleeve.
- Turnovers, odd-man breaks, dumps and chases, dropped assignments, broken passes. I don’t know what the heck is going on. At one point I was thinking, “a fight would be nice right now.” That’s how jammed up I am.
- Shutout for Flower. It burns.
I gotta be honest. This is kicking my ass. I’m dispirited by this team. Writing these recaps is getting harder and harder.
Most of my favorite players still wear that uniform, but what they’re playing now looks nothing like the game they were built for. And there’s a contingent of strangers and stragglers filling out the ranks that are desperately out of their depth. There’s a mountain of mistakes that this team seems determined to climb all over again. Like some bizarro alternate ending to The Sound of Music.
I think there’s another game later this week. Probably against a hockey team. I’ll be here, writing about it. I guess.
that horn sounds like summer
— RMNB (@russianmachine) March 12, 2014