Two weeks ago tomorrow, the Washington Capitals gave one of their most uninspired performance of the season (which is really saying something, eh?) en route to a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the fourth loss in an ugly stretch of seven, and now, even with their captain back in the lineup and producing at superstar level clicks, and with something resembling consistency between the pipes (and under "G' on the roster), the Capitals have some serious ground to make up.
But instead of making up ground, they gave more away, dropping the game 5-2 to a Columbus squad that's pretty excited about seeing Washington these days.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Braden Holtby got the nod between the pipes for the third time in five days— a stark contrast to earlier this month, when it took him a span of fifteen days to accrue three starts— and...well, allowing three goals on the first nine shots you see is never good, even if you're spending the majority of the game suffering defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown.
- After scoring six goals in his last six games, Alex Ovechkin took a pretty long turn on the receiving end tonight, as he was on for five goals against. Absolutely brutal, and the first minus 5 of Ovechkin's career. The last Caps to be minus-5 in a game? Jaromir Jagr, Jakob Cutta and Sylvan Cote during an 11-5 loss to Ottawa on 11-13-01. The only other -5 this season? Viktor Hedmen against Boston in October.
- Earlier today we fielded a question about the merits of Brooks Laich as a top six forward, ultimately determining that— on a contending team— he certainly shouldn't be. With Mikhail Grabovski ailing (get well soon, pretty please), Laich took the reins at second line pivot tonight...and did very little of note, besides racking up some pretty dreadful possession numbers.
- Two nights after a two-goal performance in which it seemed like the struggling power play unit might be revitalized, they made damn sure tonight that any optimism about a return to form was squelched. Two of their first three opportunities were farted away by penalties. On the other they surrendered a short handed goal, and converted none of the rest of their plentiful chances on the night. Delightful.
- Tom Wilson. More ice time (well, not really). More big hits. More fights. But hey, the big guy drew a penalty for his squad, so not a bad little run of physicality for Wilson. Wilson later added an assist to his interesting night. If there was one guy who came to Ohio to play hockey, it was Tom Wilson.
- Then again, it was on that Wilson-drawn power play that Derek McKenzie took a puck off a lost board battle by John Carlson, and skated the length of open ice to easily undress Braden Holtby and open the scoring. It was the seventh short handed goal the Caps have surrendered this year— an ugly number trumped only by Philadelphia's 8 and Edmonton's 9. For all the good Adam Oates's power play has done this year, a pretty good chunk of that's been negated by a combination of SHGA and Adam Oates's penalty kill unit.
- As ugly a game as the Caps played, perhaps nothing was so cringe inducing as seeing Mike Green's melon crunched into the boards by Boone Jenner. Green didn't return to the game, and given the shambles Calle Johansson's cadre of blueliners is in with Green in the lineup, a prolonged absence from the guy who seemed to be finding where the goals were hiding in his stick isn't going to spell anything pleasant for this squad. Hate to add names to the "Get well soon" list, but time to pen MG52 in.
- Hey, nice shortie, Joel Ward.
- This recap is live long before the players face the microphones, but if the "from the opening whistle we weren't prepared" or "we really got down on ourselves after letting in the first one" responses make (yet another) appearance in the post-game locker room, what more evidence does the public need of a more deep-rooted issue originating with the guys who don't wear skates on game nights?
- Speaking of the guys who make line up decisions, how incredible is it that John Erskine and Connor Carrick are an NHL defensive pairing by design, and not by some unfortunate series of consequences?