BOSTON MA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Captials talks with his players during a time out in the first period against the Boston Bruins on December 18 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
By definition, every bad game, every bad period brings us that much closer to the end of Bruce Boudreau's tenure behind the Caps' bench, whether that change occurs next week (or sooner) or next decade.
But when the team has lost seven games in a row and takes nearly nine minutes to register its first shot on goal launched from inside the offensive zone, by which time they're already down 2-0, time seems to accelerate towards that pivotal moment like an Alex Ovechkin slapshot... circa 2009-10. And when the night ends with yet another loss (3-2 at the hands of the host Bruins) and the Caps looking up at a Southeast Division leader at this point in the season for the first time since 2007, it seems to become just a question of when. But then again, it's always a question of when.
Ten more notes on the game:
- When a team is struggling to score like the Caps have been, they simply can't afford to give up a bad goal, early, but that's exactly what happened when Michal Neuvirth let a Patrice Bergeron wrister trickle through him just 3:27 into the game. Neuvy had an uneven game the rest of the way - some fantastic stops, some luck, and another questionable goal against, but he wasn't strong when the team most needed him to be... and he hasn't been for some time.
- Neuvirth wasn't alone in having a bad first period (he allowed three goals on 11 shots against, by the way). Mike Green was on for all three goals against and Alex Ovechkin was on for two as well. If this skid is ever going to end, the Caps' best players have to be their best players. And they're not right now.
- The second period was much better for the Caps, but largely on the backs of the grinders (as exemplified by Matt Bradley's goal). The power-play was ineffective and the scorers, well, didn't.
- Then came the third, a period dominated by the Caps to the tune of a 26-2 shot on goal advantage... that resulted in just one goal, a Karl Alzner shot from the point that beat Tim Thomas. One of the stories of the slide has been the Caps' inability to finish the chances they're generating, and the second half of this loss certainly fit the mold.
- Speaking of that third period, the Bruins should feel rather fortuitous leaving the game with two points after that effort in the final stanza. Remember when "killer instinct" was the Caps' biggest problem? Ah, good times.
- Back to Bradley, he came up a helper shy of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick and was CSN's Caps Player of the Game... and yet got nearly two minutes less ice time than Jay Beagle on the night. Not sure how to explain that one.
- Hey, here's a silver lining - the Caps didn't take a single minor penalty for the first time since December 27, 2003. Yay, discipline!
- If you had Nicklas Backstrom in your "which Cap will lead the team in hits tonight" pool, you're the big winner, as Nick registered six, two more than he had in the first seven games of the losing streak combined . He also won 14 of his 22 draws and fired six shots on goal. Pretty complete game for him. Brooks Laich, too.
- Only Beagle and Andrew Gordon failed to register at least one shot on goal, though Gordon had a few attempts and decent scoring opportunities that he'll have to convert if he wants to stick around.
- Down a level, the Providence Bruins beat Hershey 2-1. Rough night to be facing the B's, organizationally.
Last Saturday night's loss to Colorado was seen by most as the best game the Caps had played during the streak - a step in the right direction. Then came Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. Wednesday night's Anaheim loss was better again. Then came Saturday night in Boston (which, after the first 20 minutes, looked pretty decent). But one step forward, one or two steps back isn't good enough. Atta boys for efforts don't erase eight losses in a row. Something has to change.