On Sunday, the Caps let an important two points slip away in the dying minutes of regulation before ultimately falling in overtime; as a follow-up act, they proceeded to sleepwalk through two-thirds of the rematch with the Flyers a few nights later, a late rally not enough to earn the win. So what would they have in store for us tonight?
Well...nothing quite as bad as either one of those losses, and yet nothing all that great, either. And merrily we roll along.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Last night in Philadelphia, the Caps perfectly demonstrated the true meaning of the term "slow start", ceding two goals early to the Flyers (before getting into a line brawl) and generating just three shots on net in the opening frame. So the goal tonight, as it always should be? Start stronger - avoid falling into too big a hole early, take the home crowd out of it and find your legs. To some extent the Caps did that, maintaining a zero-zero tie through twenty minutes and lulling the TD Garden crowd into a sleepy stupor.
- They managed to keep Boston off the board in the first period, but that doesn't mean it was a great period by any stretch (and simply not being down by two shouldn't be the standard for having a better start, anyway, but that's a different issue). The Caps got thoroughly dominated by the Bruins in the opening period, outshot 10-4... which was just an appetizer of what they'd get in the next two periods.
- The Caps gave up a huge number of shots - again - while failing to generate much in the way of shots of their own - again. By the time 60 minutes were up, they had put just 16 shots on Tuukka Rask, with another 16 missing the mark or being blocked. The Bruins? Well, they fared a bit better, with 43 shots on Braden Holtby (including 17 in the second period alone), another 24 missed or blocked. And most importantly, they scored. Minor detail, that.
- They would have scored a lot more had Braden Holtby not had a great performance in net - just another fine night of goaltending squandered by the Caps having their own offense completely (and inexplicably) dry up. Perhaps Holtby would want the Bruins' second goal back, but it hardly matters - one bad goal against when your team doesn't manage even one is water under the bridge, a tiny blemish on an otherwise stellar night.
- They somehow managed to avoid falling into a deep hole in the first period, but they didn't make it that far into the second before they had given up a goal on a delayed penalty call. Just over three minutes in, Gregory Campbell perfectly deflected a shot past Holtby to put the Bruins up by one; a little over five minutes later, the lead was extended to two on a bit of a weak goal. And that's really all it took, although they would add an empty-netter late.
- If you ever wondered just how important the power play is for the Caps, look no further than this game. The Caps failed to draw even a single man-advantage in this one - perhaps the product of not moving their legs enough (although the Bruins only drew one penalty, and scored before it actually became a power play).
- Also important? Puck possession, which starts with the defense and is heavily dependent on the centers. So missing Dmitry Orlov and Mikhail Grabovski really showed in this one, as it did last game - no one was carrying the puck, no one was setting up plays, and the guys in the lineup didn't step up. Did Mike Green even play in this one? Did Nicklas Backstrom? Hard to tell.
- The Caps won just 45% of their draws all night (and that percentage was much lower in the first period), but that's not the important part about their faceoffs in this game. The important part was where they were taking place, and the vast majority of them were in the defensive zone. Starting with the puck in your own end more often than not, then not being able to win the faceoff, will result in some very lopsided possession stats... as will just playing badly, but that's neither here nor there.
- Early on in the game, the Caps' best line was their fourth line of Ryan Stoa, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson. Which just about told us all we'd need to know about how this game was going to go for the Caps.
- Another sign - Cameron Schilling, making his season debut on the Caps' third defensive pair, had two shots on goal. Alex Ovechkin, king of the SOG: one.
So the playoff push continues to falter, as the Caps stumble through a second straight game - and this time without the late burst of energy to at least keep things interesting. Perhaps boring is a bit more preferable to the chaos that was last night's loss, but not that much more preferable... and at the end of the night, the result is the same.