There have been games this year that one could point to as a low point. There have been games that one could point to as a turning point. And then there are games like this that are the most frightening of all, and that's the status quo. Lack of effort, lack of offense, whatever it is it's become the rule rather than the exception, and a frightening trend indeed.
Once again the Caps failed to find their legs early, gave up multiple power play goals, were fruitless with their own man advantages, were stymied by a goalie who was made to look better than he was, and had the hometown crowd muttering in dismay right up until the end...if they even stayed long enough to see it.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Judging by his reaction, it's doubtful that Michal Neuvirth saw the shot that beat him to open the game's scoring. Judging by Brooks Laich's reaction, it's doubtful that he did, either - although he might have felt it. And let's be honest, the combination of the two is probably the only way Steve Eminger gets a goal against his old team.
- In the moment, Derek Stepan's elbow to Mike Green's face looked bad, perhaps suspension-worthy, and it sounds like the NHL will probably take a look at it. After the fact, however, it appears to be a blown interference call but nothing more, as there's no way Stepan intentionally threw his elbow out knowing Green's head would be behind it. That Green was potentially re-injured on the play...well, that's just salt in the wound that would become this game. Here's hoping that keeping him out was just a precaution.
- It's never a good sign when one of your best defensive defensemen and one of your best defensive forwards both blow their coverage, but that's exactly what happened when New York went up 2-0 as Karl Alzner and Boyd Gordon both looked lost on the play.
- Not a great night for Alzner overall, nor was it one for his partner John Carlson, as Alzner was on for three Rangers goals and Carlson for four - and neither gets to use the "wrong place, wrong time" excuse for many of those, either.
- But if you thought they were having bad nights, it was nothing compared to the one Gordon ended up having. He ended up being on the ice for the first four goals the Rangers scored, all in a highly efficient ten minutes of ice time, and looked bad on most of them. If you're Boyd Gordon and you're not defensively responsible, what the hell are you?
- Early in the second, the Rangers capitalized on an ill-timed pinch by the Caps and started an odd-man rush, a two-on-one that became a three-on-one - with the one guy back being Scott Hannan. Rather than panic or back way off, Hannan calmly angled the puck carrier into the boards, stole the puck away and cleared it out. A simple play and one that won't make the highlight reel, but a perfect example of why the Caps brought him in.
- It really was very nice of Hannan, Alex Ovechkin and John Erskine to show up for tonight's game. We missed them while they were away. Maybe they should have invited a few more of their friends to join them tonight.
- You could make the argument that Nicklas Backstrom should have sat out tonight if he wasn't going to be able to fulfill all of his responsibilities, namely faceoffs. The bigger issue, however, is that this team...wait for it...needs another center. If 19 can't take draws, it means someone else has to take them, and that was a problem for the Caps tonight, particularly on the power play. Raise your hand if you want to see David Steckel out there for a regular power play shift just so the Caps can win the draw.
- The Caps did an excellent job of hanging their goalie out to dry early on, the same goalie who bailed them out repeatedly against a depleted Penguins team earlier this week. He got them back a little on the fourth goal, however, as he got himself way out of position and was unable to recover in time. Ugly stuff, that.
- Rough first half of the third period for Brooks Laich as he negated a power play (off a penalty that he actually drew) with a double-minor for high-sticking. Brooks Laich giveth, Brooks Laich taketh away. And then Brooks Laich geteth out of the box, loseth his man in front of the net and the Rangers scoreth their fifth of the game. Awesometh.
- Sean Avery was practically invisible tonight. Guess every game really does have a silver lining, doesn't it?
Not much left to be said - there are twenty games left. Figure it out, boys, or you'll have another long summer to think about what could have been.