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Recap: Capitals 2, Senators 1

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The Caps entered tonight with a perfect 3-0-0 record hiding some imperfect performances. Those three games came against teams that are expected to at least compete for a playoff spot. Tonight's opponent, the Ottawa Senatorshas no such expectations. On paper this game should have been a formality, but as the cliche goes, that's why they play the games. One of the teams tonight got that memo. For the second straight game the Capitals showed up with a 20 minute effort and still came out with 2 points. Hey, we've all been pining for consistency right?

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Amid what was largely an uninspiring game, one thing that stood out was the absence of Alex Ovechkin on the top power play unit.  A goal was scored without him, and when he did return it wasn't on his familiar point position. Accountability? A new look PP? Time will tell, but we'll be watching this.
  • On a night in which none of the forward lines were particularly effective, Brooks Laich's line was once again the best. If they weren't up to their normal standards, they can be forgiven. After all, thus far they've been matched against top NHL competition, and tonight they faced Jason Spezza.  So when do we stop calling them the third line?
  • Ottawa has a bright future on the blue line, but they aren't there yet. Possibly nobody should be more excited about the youth on the ice tonight than Team Sweden. Erik Karlsson lead the young Swedish troupe (despite being bested by his countryman, Marcus Johansson, on the game winner), but tonight (and most nights) the Caps had the better Carlson. No relation.
  • Congrats to Roman Hamrlik on becoming the leading Czech-trained player in terms of NHL games played. If not being reminded of that at least once a period, I might have forgotten he was out there (and that's being generous). Still waiting for that veteran stability to show up, but it's a long season and he still has some time.
  • Dennis Wideman showed why he got his healthy contract, and why he was traded twice in quick succession.  His puck movement was once again present tonight, but some lazy passing led to the Senators goal late in the first period.
  • Tomas Vokoun has been an elite goalie in the NHL for years playing behind inept offenses and non-contenders. So it only makes sense that the Caps would try to put him in his comfort zone, right?
  • Speaking of Vokoun, after giving up 2 soft goals and gifting a point to a division rival in his first start with the Capitals, he's come up with two huge games ensuring that the Caps got 2 points in consecutive games that they probably didn't deserve to win.
  • Perhaps most disappointing about the Caps' inability to take advantage of the Ottawa D corps, a D corps that has let in more goals than any other team in the league, was that the Caps were playing against only 5 defenders. And that was before Sergei Gonchar went down with an injury early in the game.
  • If a sweater can be wasted on D.J. King, so can a bullet point, right?
  • Let's end this on a positive note: The Caps didn't blow a third period lead for the first time all season.

It's an 82 game regular season and the Capitals had an emotional opening week, facing two division rivals and the Penguins. This game had "letdown" written all over it, and most longtime Capitals fans probably saw this coming. No team is going to put up 82 straight 60-minute efforts, so games like tonight are inevitable. Of course, that excuse observation would be a bit more comforting if any of the preceding games were 60 minute efforts.  And so the Caps remain perfect in the standings, and anything but on the ice. Four games down, 78 to go, and months of anxiety and hand-wringing as Caps fans wonder when, or whether, they'll see a performance on the ice that matches the record, and the talent, on paper.

Game highlights:

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