My guess is that the first fifteen seconds of Our American Cousin was pretty sweet, too.
The Caps slept through the first two-and-a-half periods, only to wake up down two goals midway through the third. On some nights, they've put forth similar efforts and come out unscathed, but not last night, which may be for the best - this team needs to know that winning games in the NHL requires focus and intensity from start to finish, and not merely ten minutes of sweat-breaking effort.
But last night's was just one game (though I feel I've watched that game at least a half-dozen times already this year), and the Caps get a quick shot at redemption tomorrow night against the Panthers, who, incidentally, are the only team in the Eastern Conference whom the Caps have yet to beat this season.
Some notes on the game:
- Jose Theodore wasn't at his sharpest, but was hung out to dry far to often. When's the last time you saw the Caps allow that many odd-man rushes against? Certainly not this season.
- Mike Green had a goal and an assist, but had a poor game overall. I'm imposing a one-day ban on all "Green for Norris" talk, effective immediately.
- Green was not alone in his poor play, of course, and his partner, John Erskine, was as bad as he's been since returning from injury. Over the past couple of games, Erskine is looking more like the tired, pre-injury version of himself than the fresh, post-injury version.
- Nicklas Backstrom had a pretty decent night... everywhere but in the faceoff circle, where he was 6-for-20 (30%). First of all, eww. Secondly, he can't win big draws right now, ergo he can't be taking big draws right now. Simple as that.
- David Steckel was the victim of two bad calls, but offensive zone penalties in consecutive games is a good way to get scratched.
- Alex Semin actually had his best game in a while.
- The line juggling was a bit much, even for Gabby, and the various shuffles yielded nada until the Care Bear line was put back together towards the end.
- Alex Ovechkin attempted 16 shots, getting nine of them on net and potting the 200th of his career.
- Tomas Fleischmann has now gone eight games without a goal and, with the exception of a nice partial break after finding a seem in the defense and taking a nice Backstrom feed, was a non-factor.
- I think Jeff Schultz let as many pucks get by him at the offensive zone blueline as JT60 allowed in net.
- The power play was lackadaisical, which I believe is Norwegian for "crappy."
- Matt Bradley did his job.
On the positive side, there won't be any non-playoff teams in the playoffs. On the negative side, playing the "turn on and off the effort" game is a dangerous habit to get into, and is a recipe for a quick post-season exit. For all of Bruce Boudreau's obvious accomplishments as a coach, his inability to prepare his team mentally each and every night has become a glaring weakness, and one that could prove fatal at the worst time.