It says something about the expectations surrounding this Caps team that back-to-back wins (now five in a row and seven out of eight) can be not only unsatisfying, but in some ways downright troubling.
Granted, four points are four points, but they came against two of the worst teams on the planet, and in each game the Caps failed to demonstrate any real sustained passion - perhaps that's the "unsatisfying" part.
Moreover, the lack of a physical response from the team after David Backes cross-checked Alex Semin was infuriating - that's definitely the "troubling" part. If Donald Brashear isn't fighting (he hasn't in a month), and he isn't deterring opponents from running the team's goalies and star forwards, what, exactly, is he doing for $1.2 million? (And the first person to type "forechecking" gets banned from this site.)
Put another way, an effort like these past two in Philly on Saturday could meet with disastrous results.
An abbreviated few notes on the game, as I'm fighting a head cold like Matt Bradley fights NHL tough guys:
- The Verizon Center ice was simply atroc- just kidding.
- Simeon Varlamov was the victim of some bad luck on the two goals he allowed - karmic payback for the post(s) that bailed him out in Montreal on Saturday night. Bottom line, though: the kid was exceptional (again), and his stop on the Keith Tkachuk partial breakaway was a "save" in more than one sense of the word.
- Viktor Kozlov had himself a night. Good to be back on the top line, eh?
- With the exception of the power play that started the third period, the Caps were terrible with the extra man.
- One Cap was plus-two - Karl Alzner.
- Not to beat the dead horse about the energy level, but the game was tied at one with three minutes left in the second. At home. Against the worst team in the West. That's not OK.
- Boyd Gordon and David Steckel had solid games. Michael Nylander? Less so.
So it's off to Philly for a Saturday matinee, hopefully with a couple of bodies that couldn't finish out last night's game and a hell of a lot more passion.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
More from Simeon Varlamov following the Habs game.... The Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin line is one of the top trios in the League (as would be the Ovechkin-Backstrom-me line).... Brett Leonhardt makes the coveted pages of SI.... Bryan Helmer's storybook return to the NHL behind him, he'll captain one side in the AHL All-Star Game.... Cap of the Day: Another former Cap and Blue, but one with whom you'll be more familiar.... Finally, and this seems quite fitting today, on this date back in 1990, Dimitri Khristich "became the youngest hockey player allowed to leave the Soviet Union, when he joined the NHL's Washington Capitals."