Mike Weber chipped the puck away from the crease. It ended up on the stick of a Pittsburgh Penguin.
It’s not the first defensive turnover to lose a game this playoffs. We saw the same from Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov. But in sudden death overtime against a hated foe to whom the Caps have lost 7 out of 8 playoff series, it burns.
Barry Trotz chose to give a sweater to Mike Weber over Nate Schmidt, a demonstrably better player. Whatever you think of Mike Weber’s play, the fact that he was playing in overtime was the true mistake.
The Caps, who won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best regular season team, are now one loss away from having just another disappointing season.
Let’s review the decisive play.
Photo: Rob Carr
Karl Alzner missed Saturday’s morning skate with what the team is calling a “maintenance day.” Alzner missed two days of practice earlier this week but played in Thursday’s game despite being “banged up.” Skating in Alzner’s spot on the second pairing alongside Matt Niskanen was Mike Weber, though Weber stayed out late with the heathly scratches.
Dmitry Orlov looks to be healthy scratch as well following a misplay on Nick Bonino that led to a goal in the second period. Capitals coach Barry Trotz benched Orlov for the second half of the game, save for one short shift in the third period. Orlov has not missed a game all season.
Lovejoy celebrates his goal (Photo: Rob Carr)
Capitals defensemen Dmitry Orlov went for the big hit, hoping to take Penguins center Nick Bonino out at the blue line. Instead, Orlov missed, colliding with Nate Schmidt. Bonino was left with an unfettered path to the net. He shot the puck on Braden Holtby before Ben Lovejoy cleaned up the rebound at the midway point of Game One on Thursday, tying the score at one.
Orlov, who, like Schmidt, is playing in his first postseason in the NHL, didn’t see the ice for the rest of the game, save for a brief 25-second shift early in the third period. He finished with less than six minutes of time on ice.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Last year, the Capitals’ top defense pair was John Carlson and Brooks Orpik. This year, those two have missed a combined 43 games. Tonight, it was Carlson’s turn again.
“He probably saw the doctors tonight and we’ll probably have an update (Saturday) because I don’t really know yet,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s not 100 percent or he would have played tonight. It is a lingering of the old injury so we just want to have the opportunity to let’s get it settled down or fixed. Whatever we need to do let’s just do it so that it’s not lingering on.”
Photo: Amanda Bowen
The Capitals made a late afternoon trade Tueday, acquiring defenseman Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a third round 2017 draft pick. Buffalo will retain half of Weber’s $2 million salary. He is scheduled to become a UFA at the end of the year.
Weber’s acquisition puts another big body like Brooks Orpik on the Caps’ blueline. The trade is a bit of a surprise, seeing as the Capitals already have a lot of very good defensemen playing right now.
Perhaps Weber will simply serve as insurance since some members of the team’s blue line have been banged up this season.
When the Washington Capitals lost Nicklas Backstrom to injury for most of a season, they were a different team. The elbow to Backstrom’s head from Rene Bourque devastated the team.
So on Monday, when Sabres defenseman Mike Weber went to slam Nicky’s head against the boards (he missed), Caps captain Alex Ovechkin would have none of it.
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
After the Capitals’ somewhat easy 4-1 victory over the Eastern Conference’s best team Wednesday, Nicklas Backstrom spoke to Versus’ Pierre McGuire. In explaining the team’s troubles this year, Backstrom said, “I think we haven’t been working hard enough. Everybody has to commit and do their job, and that’s what we haven’t been doing.”
It’s hard to express optimism that the Caps have finally turned the corner, if they can’t string a couple of solid victories together, and — you know — actually turn the corner. Would they bring the energy again in their second match-up in three games against the Buffalo Sabres, a team who has given the Caps fits all year?
You tell me. Photo recap time!
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