Why beat around the bush on this one? There are really only two things to talk about here: the Caps performance and the Alexander Ovechkin/Steve Dowie/Matt Bradley incident.
First things first: the Capitals were awful, as a team, for the vast majority of this game. There were some bright spots (Eric Fehr's goal was nice, Alexander Semin had some nifty moves, Jeff Schultz and Tom Poti were both +2, Mike Knuble had a couple instances where he was clearly getting to the opposition in front of the net), but as a whole Washington came out flat and bad, dug themselves a hole which they then crawled their way out of, and reverting back to their mistake-prone style that had got them in trouble in the first place? No team goes 82 games without having a few of these nights and, although this one stings more coming against a mediocre opponent and coming after such a dominant win Saturday in Atlanta. Nonetheless, the best thing to do is drop this one in the garbage where it belongs and move on.
As for Ovechkin, Downie, and Bradley, I'd like to keep it short and sweet. Downie's a clown, and there's no way he should have walked away from the initial altercation with the same penalty as Ovechkin - punching a guy for laying a clean hit on you shouldn't be an effective way to eliminate him from the game. By the same token, how Ovechkin gets a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and Downie doesn't when they both drop 'em is beyond me. Love the passion from Ovechkin, but tomorrow morning he'll realize it's best Bradley stepped in because fighting's a risk Ovie shouldn't be taking. Bradley earned himself player of the game status. And the hardhat for life...or the rest of the season at least.
Ten additional thoughts on tonight's game:
- Mike Knuble made a valiant effort to get back on the play that led to the Lightning's first goal. Of course, that effort wouldn't have been necessary is Knuble hadn't turned the puck over inside his own blue line to give Tampa the chance. Getting the puck out of the zone is rule number one, and a veteran like Knuble knows that.
- Of Tampa's seven goals, Mike Green was on the ice for six and Shaone Morrisonn for all seven. Yeah, just one night and all that, but that was sure bad enough to take breaking up that pairing under consideration.
- Nicklas Backstrom's boarding penalty was definitely of the "What we you thinking?" variety. You've simply got to know you can't hit the guy in that situation
- Brooks Laich is still really feeling the effect of his slump, and you could see it on that goalie interference penalty. Getting to the net is great, but not going all out and still not being in control of yourself is a mark of a guy whose game is just a little off.
- I bet if you'd asked someone two weeks ago if they thought a night like tonight's was going to be one where Jason Chimera would getting involved in the physical play and maybe even drop the gloves, I bet they'd have said 'yes'.
- Michal Neuvirth's body language on Tampa's third goal said it all; that Tyler Sloan screen was just awful. Then again, maybe he just figured that's the way to get playing time on the PK? Although, that raises the question: why is Tyler Sloan getting playing time on the PK?
Mike Smith looked like a character out of kid's hockey movie: the big, goofy kid who gets stuck in net because he can't skate six feet without falling down. Here's hoping it's not because he's seriously hurt after colliding with Brooks Laich.
- Not that it excuses it, but that Eric Fehr goal probably goes a long way in explaining all the long wrist shots that have had us fans scratching our heads over the last couple of years..
- One last fight thought: David Steckel, why?
- Of all the weird stuff that happened last night, this might be the weirdest: throw out the first period and the Caps and Lightning tied, 3-3.
Okay, recap's over. Now throw this one in the trash.
The game, that is.