After stringing together a couple of strong efforts in a row and scoring ten goals in their last two games, the Caps were probably due for a stinker. Doesn't make it easier to take, however, as the Caps started flat and ended empty-handed en route to their first really lopsided loss of the season. They didn't skate hard enough, they weren't physical enough and they couldn't generate anything offensively - that'll get you a loss any day, and an ugly one at that.
Not much else to say about this one...but let's give it a shot anyway.
Ten more notes on the game:
- One of the things we're learning about Braden Holtby is that he's aggressive and likes to play the puck. That's all well and good until that aggression turns into a goal for the opponent. It was an overzealous attempt to cover a puck well outside the crease that led to it ending up right on Nik Antropov's stick - and then the back of the net.
- Tyler Sloan's 4:37 of ice time in the first period was spread across six shifts. Atlanta scored on three of them. Yeah, there's just no real way to make that sound pretty.
- As has become a trend when these two teams meet - at least if you define "trend" as something happening across at least two games - the bounces were a-bouncin' tonight, of the funny, bad and costly kind. A couple of them ended up in the net while many more ended up off the post or off the tape or off the rink.
- Jeff Schultz ended the evening with a team- and game-high five hits. Wait...is that a typo?
- Lost in the muck is the fact that Mike Green actually had quite a nice night for himself. It wasn't a perfect night but he at least seemed remotely capable of making an impact, and ended the night with about as impressive a stat line as one could hope in a game like this: three shots on goal, another four blocked or missed, two hits, a takeaway, two blocked shots, and some of the better scoring chances in the dying minutes of the third - despite being the victim of a nasty crash into the boards earlier in the period.
- Slightly better effort for Marcus Johansson tonight, as he slipped into a slightly less high-profile role alongside Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich...er, emphasis on the "slightly" part. He seemed to be flexing his offensive guns a bit more and creating some nice chances for himself and his linemates, racking up three shots on goal and having three more blocked. Now about that 1-for-8 in the faceoff circle...
- A great goal was scored by a Russian guy named Alex wearing a red #8 sweater. Sadly, he plays for Atlanta. Beautiful moves by Alexander Burmistrov to cash in for the Thrashers' 5th of the night.
- Now, about OUR #8. It doesn't really seem to be a lack of effort in general. And it's definitely not a lack of talent. So what exactly is the issue with Alex Ovechkin? It seems like every game we can devote a bullet point entirely to the captain's lack of...well, Ovi-ness...and that's not good, not for a team that's built around him and for a team that relies on him to lead in so many ways. He's showing flashes of brilliance that are all too brief, and they're sandwiched in between long stretches of mediocre-to-bad play. Something's up, and it needs to be fixed ASAP. In the meantime, reasonable minds might wonder why he's getting almost 23 minutes of ice time when he clearly isn't earning it...
- The last time the Caps were shut out was almost a year ago: December 9, 2009. That's a nice long run. Shall we make it two years next time?
- What do Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Mike Knuble have in common? They were the only four Caps not on the ice for a single Atlanta goal (and Knuble's night was shortened after taking a puck to the face). That about sums it up, doesn't it?
These games happen sometimes, and they're the kind of games you have to just forget and move on from. The bad news is that they blow a chance at extending their lead in the division and the conference. The good news is that so much went wrong that you can chalk most of it up to just a bad night by the entire team.
More good news? They get to hop right back on the horse tomorrow night and take their anger out on the Philadelphia Flyers.