Photo: Bruce Bennett
Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.
With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.
The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.
During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.
The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.
Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.
- After two weeks of having the ice titled against them like a waterfall, Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin played on different lines for the entire game. Ovi even skated with Nicklas Backstrom, who is good. So, you know, that was neat.
- Just like that — and really this must be complete luck — Nicky assisted on Ovi’s first 5-on-5 goal since February, a span of 17 games. Sadly it was about 17 games too late. For those keeping track at home (Hi, Mike!), Ovi’s now just minus-35. Ovi generated nine shot attempts tonight. Nick + Ovi 4evar.
- The lines were still classic Oates. The second line tonight Marcus Johansson, Beagle, and Troy Brouwer. I’m not sure there’s anything intelligible you can say about that one. However, Beagle had two (!) shots on goal tonight. I believe that’s more than Beagvechkin ever registered. Mojo also almost tied the game late.
- The Caps PK — which is mediocre — kept them in the game tonight, killing off four penalties including Joel Ward’s key double minor.
- The Caps fourth line — which includes perhaps three guys who should be in the top-six — got a microscopic amount of ice time tonight. Evgeny Kuznetsov skated just over seven minutes. Dustin Penner got six. Good players need to be on the ice.
- The Devils started the game with 11 forwards. The Capitals took out three of them of them. Eight forwards should not beat 12 forwards. That’s math.
- Jaroslav Halak was solid tonight, but he’s now lost five straight games. Jaro had 29 saves tonight. Braden will be in tomorrow before going into hiding for the rest of the season.
Win out, hope for a biblical implosion by the Blue Jackets. That’s Washington’s only hope at this point.
Peter will be back with you tomorrow. Maybe he won’t make like 40 mistakes on Twitter like I did tonight. Then again, this is a Capitals blog.
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) April 5, 2014