A late October 7-0 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers painted one picture of an Alexander Ovechkinless Caps. Tuesday night's 2-0 shutout loss at the hands of Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators painted a more recent and, it pains me to write, probably a more accurate representation of this team's capabilities when their captain is watching from above.
They did break the shutout streak (and as Joe Beninati mentioned during the broadcast, the longest stretch of offensive futility for this franchise in the last decade. And Dale Hunter coached this team), but it wasn't enough, as the Caps lost their 7th consecutive outing, and their 13th of the last 16. Does this look like a playoff team to you?
Ten more notes on the game:
- One popular line of thinking regarding a recent rash of penalties taken by usually mild-mannered Martin Erat is that he's lashing out on the ice as a way to reinforce his desire to ditch town. Whether that's ludicrous narrative or something else, Erat's boarding penalty in the games early stages was ugly, dangerous, and uncharacteristic.
- How is it that Dmitry Orlov continues to make the same mistakes game in and game out? Watching Orlov play a puck poorly, or make a bad read in the offensive zone, only to see the puck go the other way has become a disturbing ritual. This time it was Stephen Gionta cashing in on an Orlov mistake to open the scoring. Maybe these are just growing pains on the part of Orlov, but right now there seems to be a lot more pain than growing...
- No Ovechkin (Novechkin), no goals. Know Ovechkin, know goals. Seriously though. 6 Ovi-less periods. 5 goal-less periods. Talk about exploiting a criminal lack of depth.
- Once upon a time, "hot goalie" might have seemed a reasonable if not frustrating explanation for the low offensive output. But when four in every five goaltenders this team sees is "hot", it's probably time to recognize that the radical variable isn't the guy between the pipes, but rather with the fellas firing the rubber at him.
- Was there a single more saddening image than an entire section of disappointed dads sporting the jerseys of their underperforming or ailing sons?
- Every power play unit— good, bad, or somewhere in between— gets hot and grows cold. The Capitals have a good power play. They've got the numbers to prove it. Right now they're cold. Like, ice cold. Colder than a witch's...well, you know. I can think of a variety of logical ways the coaches might approach this problem, but I gotta tell you, putting Connor Carrick on the first unit is not one that would've occurred to me.
- Something that tends to negate the positive effects of a bountiful power play: a garbage penalty kill. Last season, Adam Oates's Capitals closed the season with an 77.9% penalty kill effectiveness rate. That's not good. They were 27st in the league. They came into tonight with a none-too-pretty 80%, and sitting at 21st in the league...so it was hardly surprising when the Adam Henrique converted on the Devil's third power play of the night, and even less so once you realized that the shutdown tandem of Connor Carrick and John Erskine were tasked with protecting the open ice.
- Until someone begins tracking statistics of inarguably subjective nature, we won't know the answers to mental inquiries such as the following: "I wonder what the Capitals' record is when Jay Beagle is their most threatening offensive presence." Alas, such ambitious research remains impossible, but we know one thing: that particular imaginary statistic is very likely unflattering, and tallied another "L" tonight. But hey, keep up the good work, Beags.
- Can't really fault Michal Neuvirth tonight, who was pretty solid. That'll keep the goaltending situation nice and muddled, so the Caps have that going for them at least.
- Keep on keeping on, Caps fans. Jason Chimera from John Erskine and Tom Wilson was our brightest moment tonight. If you read this far, thank you, and I would like to personally invite you to re-evaluate everything you hold dear.