[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats - AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]
Tom Poti, come on down!
While it's impossible to pin a 2-1 loss to one of the worst teams in hockey on any one player (but not, necessarily, on one coach), there was one player who was more responsible for the two goals against than any other, so T.P. is under the microscope today.
Let's begin with his effort last night, shall we? First he gets outmuscled and outworked by Jozef Stumpel who was able to feed a wide open Richard Zednik for Kitty Goal Number One, then he made a pass that would have made Bryan McCabe wince to spring Kamil Kreps on a breakaway that would turn out to be the eventual game-winner. To top it all off, he missed the net on a late scoring chance, left a 5% tip at dinner and used the last of a roll of toilet paper in his hotel room bathroom and didn't replace the roll (those last two items have yet to be confirmed).
Bad night. It happens. But what about his season so far?
Through 18 games, the Caps' big blueline acquisition has as many points as John Erskine, as many goals as Steve Eminger, a worse plus/minus than Brian Pothier, fewer hits than Nicklas Backstrom, and two more power-play points than Joe Motzko.
Bad night or bad player?
At this point, I'm willing to give Poti the benefit of the doubt and accept that the team's slump (nine goals in the last seven games), a groin injury and "the system" are all contributing factors to his slow start, but while we didn't expect him to be the second-coming of Bobby Orr, we didn't expect him to be the second-coming of Bryan Muir, either.
In lieu of further specifics on last night's game (but feel free to comment on Alex Ovechkin manning the power-play point, his Michael Strahan smile, Michael Nylander's curious passing, Glen Hanlon's decision on when to pull Olie Kolzig, Sunrise's pitiful ice or anything else that strikes your fancy), just read any of the last few recaps from games played in this country. Speaking of which, did you realize that the last time the Caps won on U.S. soil was October 24? That makes eight straight losses in the land of the free for your nation's Capitals.
Next up are the appropriately white-hot Lightning, who have won four straight and have scored 16 goals in their last three games, including their 5-2 win in D.C. on Saturday night and a pair of drubbings of the Carolina Hurricanes. Vincent Lecavalier had more points on Wednesday night against the 'Canes as all but seven Caps have on the entire season. Yikes.
But hope springs eternal, whether you're hoping for wins or personnel changes, so here's hoping Friday night gets us a little closer to that which we desire - it's hard to imagine we could be any further away from it.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Thanks to Nate for passing along this story, in which Boston University's "Independent Student Newspaper" wonders how good BU would be if Chris Bourque was still in school there. My guess is they published a similar article last year. And the year before that.... Michal Neuvirth won his Windsor debut, and apparently looked great in doing so.
Hart: Eric Belanger (4A, +1)
Ross: Eric Belanger (4 points)
Norris: Kent Huskins (0 points, +5, 4 hits, 3 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
Vezina: Martin Gerber (W, 35 saves on 37 shots against)
Richard: Peter Schaeffer, Jarret Stoll, Daniel Alfredsson, Corey Perry, Joe Pavelski (2G each)
Calder: Denis Tolpeko (G, A, +1)
- Aiken: Lubomir Visnovsky (0 points, -4)