The Capitals have had plenty of superlatives piled on them in the last week or so, and they've almost all been deserved. There's no denying this team is incredibly talented, skilled, fast, and exciting. There's no doubt they can beat anyone in the NHL. To be frank, there's no reason they shouldn't go in to every game this season expecting to win. At the same time, they need to realize talent alone isn't enough.
The margin for error in the NHL is small no matter who you're playing and you're simply not going to win when you make as many mistakes as the Capitals did tonight. You can't take penalties in the offensive zone when your team's on a 5-on-3 advantage; you can't take bench minors when you're on the powerplay. You can't let in two five-hole goals off snap shots from between the circles, even if Marian Gaborik's doing the shooting. You can't find yourself in a 4-on-4 situation without a single defenseman on the ice, even if it's right after a powerplay. You can't let the opposition tie the game up in the third period eighteen seconds after you've taken the lead. You can't let a team give you nine powerplays and not take the game because, as Bruce Boudreau said after Tuesday night's game, "You take [nine minor penalties] in a game, you're not going to win that game."
If you're the Washington Capitals, you can't lose that game.
Ten additional thoughts on tonight's game:
- Mike Green attempted 15 shots. Two were on net, six missed the net, and seven we blocked. Dude, find a new stick already.
- Chris Clark isn't the explosive skater he was a few years ago but he does finally look truly healthy. And it's great to see.
- If Chris Drury is a checking line center, he's got to be the best damn checking line center in the NHL, no?
- No more scratching Brian Pothier. Ever.
- You have to love the effort Tyler Sloan put forth (including his three hits) but he really looked like he had no idea what he was doing playing as a forward.
- I would do horrible things to have either Ryan Callahan or Brandon Dubinsky on the Capitals.
- Jeff Schultz on Gaborik at the end of the first period was subtle beauty.
- Thank you, Donald Brashear, for reminding us why we're not sorry to see you go, especially at $1.4 million.
- Criag Laughlin seemed pretty adamant that twenty-eight NHL teams tried to sign Matt Gilroy last spring. I wonder who the other was that wasn't interested was?
- It's only a matter of time before Smokin' Al Koken's Thompson Creek Windows commercials achieve "Pulte Homes" and "Raisin Brahms" status.
What's we'll be looking for tomorrow is how Bruce Boudreau responds to his team's performance. Last season we questioned whether or not not he was holding his players accountable or, at the very least, whether he was consistent about it. After publicly and repeatedly calling out Tom Poti and John Erskine for their performances against Philadelphia on Tuesday, the standard seems to have been set for this season. Here's hoping that's the case, because there's no way these guys should be let off the hook.