SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 07: Logan Couture #39 and Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks combine to stop Jeff Halpern #15 of the Washington Capitals at the HP Pavilion at San Jose on January 7, 2012 in San Jose, California. The Sharks defeated the Capitals 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
After tough losses players often talk about wanting to get right back out on the ice. The day after a tough loss to the conference-leading New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals got such a chance, and in the friendly confines of Verizon Center, no less. Yesterday the Caps got no luck with the bounces (although they've generally been pretty lucky of late), but they also didn't do themselves any favor with the execution. Coming in to tonight, everyone knew they'd have to play better to beat a good (but merely division leading) San Jose Sharks team. The Caps played well to start, but the PDO regression finally came calling and the next thing you knew it was another blowout.
Ten more notes on the game:
- When news broke an hour before the game that Braden Holtby and Joel Rechlicz were called up, I think most assumed they'd total about 2:52 minutes of ice time combined. Then we found out that Holtby was starting. Two straight games goalies had short notice. Eight combined goals against.
- Holtby was in a tough spot from the start, but early on it looked like he was going to make a nice story out of it. He had some huge saves in the first period to keep the game close. But then a once-in-a-lifetime, twice-in-a-week, kind of shot got past him. From there things snowballed but you can't completely blame the goalie for any of them.
- On a night when both teams (theoretically) scored enough goals to win, it's no shock the offensive came out to play. Every Shark you've ever heard of had a point, and the Caps got goals from throughout their high powered. Dmitri Orlov kicked it up with a blast of a point shot. Then Roman Hamrlik channeled another time and jumped into the play, beating Greiss to make the score... close to respectable. And no offensive explosion is complete without Jeff Schultz having his say. Double Nickel does what he does best and hammered the puck so hard Shea Weber would cower. Respectability, achieved.
- Coin flip games don't leave a lot of margin for error. One way to improve your margin for error is to win the special teams battle. Tonight the Caps lost both special teams battles, going 50% on the PK and 0% on the PP. The Caps also lost the battle of the bounces. The result was predictably ugly.
- Advanced Stat Watch: On the first power play the Sharks deflected a puck high in the slot. The puck bounced off the ice and into Holtby's pad. The PDO smiled on the Capitals.
- Advanced Stat Watch II: Then the first goal happened. San Jose dumped the puck on net from center ice. This time, instead of deflecting off a Caps defender, Joe Pavelski made a great play and slapped the puck off the ice. After a double-skip the puck bounced up and beat Holtby's glove. The PDO giveth and the PDO taketh away.
- After a rough game yesterday, Orlov was one of the better Caps tonight, and provided the first goal in the dying second of the second period. Good to see him bounce back and give the team some hope going into the third period.
- Real tough night for Karl Alzner and John Carlson. They were both on for the first five goals against. Even with bad bounces, that stings.
- Every once in a while you a stat line that stands out. Six shots on goal, 5 shots blocked, 4 hits, 3 takeaways, 2 faceoffs won, 1 block, 0 faceoffs lost. Seven goals would have rounded out the Alex Ovechkin's night nicely. I guess it wasn't meant to be.
- So Rechlicz didn't even step on the ice to get his 10 PIM. Now that's some enforcin'.
And with that, the Caps get a three day rest before they jump back into division play with a chance to close the gap on the Florida Panthers. Nothing has changed since yesterday, or the day before, save for the opportunity cost for 2 points. This team isn't too far out to make the playoffs, but things need to change drastically if they're going to harbor the dreams we all had back in training camp.