Early in the second period, the goal light behind Jose Theodore was malfunctioning and flashed for a couple of minutes as the game went on. As the stanza continued, the light would be turned on three more times, but this time the malfunction was on the ice.
In a game that wasn't televised anywhere and was played in front of the smallest (and quitest) home crowd of the year (a still-impressive 16,792, though there were nowhere near that many fans in the building), the Caps lost their first VC game in regulation on the season, and it wasn't as close as the score might indicate. A few notes on the game:
- I don't know if it makes it any easier to diagnosis the cause, but that "playing without emotion" problem? It's not just a road thing any more.
Karl Alzner's night ranged from tentative to terrible. He was on the ice for the first three Florida goals: on the first, he was abused by Ville Peltonen (Alzner was with him until Peltonen threw on the brakes, watched King Karl fly by, and then ripped one short-side over JT60's left shoulder); on the second, David Steckel threw the puck in off of Alzner's skate in front; on the the third, Alzner appeared to screen his goalie on. He was also credited with four giveaways, no takeaways and no shots on goal. Frankly, he looked overmatched because he is, and that's not a knock on him - he's not ready for 20 minutes of NHL ice time, and he shouldn't be expected to handle that much. He needs to be paired with a Tom Poti, not a Milan Jurcina, or his short-term development could suffer.
- The next time Sami Lepisto impresses me will be the first time. I look forward to it.
- The above isn't to say that those were the only two Caps blueliners who had poor games, as there were four others who were more or less atrocious in their own right (Shaone Morrisonn had the team's worst CR, Tyler Sloan fumbled and bumbled, and so on). Of note, Bryan Helmer skated the most shifts (27) of any Capital, and I just threw up in my mouth as I typed that.
- Alex Ovechkin had a typical "frustrated Alex" game - plenty of shot attempts, plenty blocked, and a bit of running around like a lunatic looking for someone to hit (and got Kamil Kreps once in a big way).
- Further to that last point, let's give credit where it's due - the Panthers may play some god-awful boring hockey, but they clogged up passing and shooting lanes all night.
- Despite a two-point night, Nicklas Backstrom was also pretty bad. Six giveaways (many of which were earned), 38% in the faceoff circle, and a generally lethargic night.
- Sometimes goalies are good. Other times they're lucky. Last night, Jose Theodore was neither.
- Referee Kevin Pollack sounds like he's fourteen years old.
- Brooks Laich was 0-for-5 in draws and hasn't scored a goal in seven games. Michael Nylander was 4-for-11 and hasn't scored a goal since October friggin' 16th (that's more than a quarter of a season without a tally). Tomas Fleischmann cannot be the extent of consistent seconday scoring on this team.
- We often note how even strength shot differential is more important than overall shot differential in terms of winning games, and to that end the Caps have now outshot their opponents at even strength in only one of their last eight games. Their record over that span? Three wins, five losses. Contrast that to overall shot differential, where the Caps have outshot opponents in four of those games. Point being, that 3-5-0 record is masking a team that's struggling more than its record would show.
The bottom line is that the Caps have lost a second straight game to a mediocre team, and seem to be out of gas and certainly out of depth of NHL talent. They need to get healthy and fast, or they'll continue to watch winnable games and the two points that go with them slip (or bounce, if we're talking about the VC ice) away.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Oskar Osala is the AHL's Rookie of the Month for November.... You guys know I love me some Bear Tracks.... Nottingham's Johan Molin is at long last getting the recognition he deserves for being "just like Ovechkin."
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