The Caps are a phenomenally skilled hockey club (even without perhaps their most skilled player, Alexander Semin), and when Bruce Boudreau turns his boys loose, they're an absolute joy to watch... on most nights. Trouble is, there are certain teams and styles against which run-and-gun just won't necessarily work. Who are these teams? Well, chances are, if a team has a guy named Jacques behind the bench, they're one of these teams.
And Montreal's got a guy named Jacques behind the bench.
The Caps were stifled in the neutral zone and in the middle of the ice all night, they didn't adjust, and they didn't win. Their two goals were both the result of hard work in the offensive zone - not mad dashes up ice - but in the end, it was too little of that and too much trying to take what just wasn't there.
Ten more notes on the game:
John Carlson's NHL debut was solid, if unspectacular. He got caught out too long on each of his first two shifts (averaging 1:42 on the two), but settled down, rang the crossbar, led the team in hits with five, and finished third among the rearguards in ice time with 17:24, all but four seconds of which came at even strength.
- In goal, Michal Neuvirth was victimized by a couple of unlucky (for him) deflections on the first two goals, but wasn't tested much on the night - his teammates outshot the Habs 27-8 over the final two periods.
- Speaking of Carlson and Neuvirth, they were two of four Caps (Jay Beagle and Tyler Sloan being the others) who were in Hershey Bears uniforms on the night they won the Calder Cup last year.
- Any lingering concerns about Alex Ovechkin's left shoulder entering the game had to have been all but gone after seeing him lead with that shoulder on a big collision with Max Pacioretty just 38 seconds into the game.
- Is it a coincide that on the night that another promising young blueliner makes his Caps debut, John Erskine drops the mittens with the toughest guy in the NHL? One gets the impression that Big John knows there's one and only one way he's going to stick around this club... and even that may not be enough.
Mathieu Perreault creates. It's what he does. It doesn't matter what kind of ice time or linemates he has - he works and works and chances happen. Keeper.
- As mediocre as Carey Price's numbers are on the season, he's now 4-2-0/1.95/.941 in his last six starts. How 'bout tweeting that, @walsha?
- Another game, another injury, this time Tom Poti. No word yet on the particulars (though it sounds like he's out for tomorrow night).
- If you thought the Caps had a hard time getting pucks to the net tonight, imagine if Andrei Markov and Hal Gill were healthy.
- Three minor penalties taken on the night is a good number overall... except that all three were taken in the third period. That said, the officiating was a bit shaky, to be generous.
And so the Caps head north to take on the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. Battered and bruised, trapped and tripped... but at least the game should be a bit more wide open, and thus to their liking.