Well…it wasn’t Brian Sutherby.
The Caps dealt the 25-year old forward earlier in the day to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick in the 2009 draft – a move accompanying the return of Alexander Semin from the injured reserve list.
Neither move shook the Caps from the nosedive they have taken since opening the year with three wins. The Florida Panthers were the latest to find rejuvenation in the healing waters of
It was just another case of guys counted on to provide results not getting any. To wit…
-- Matt Pettinger had his ninth straight game without a point. It’s starting to show in his ice time. In his last six games, he’s taken 28-23-19-19-17-19 shifts. Tonight…12:37 in ice time. He took five shifts totaling barely three minutes in the third period.
-- Boyd Gordon extended his own goalless streak to nine games (he has one assist in that stretch). He skated less than did Pettinger – 18 shifts for 10:19. He had two shifts in the third totaling 35 seconds, both times to take a faceoff.
-- John Erskine is in the lineup to provide a physical presence. He was credited with one hit. Of course, he only had 6:31 worth of ice time, himself.
-- The defense, in general, simply permitted
There were three themes tonight…first, the short bench. Five skaters had fewer than a dozen minutes, and Tom Poti had more than 30 himself. Brian Pothier, who shouldn’t be getting more than 20 on the best of nights, had more than 25. Alex Ovechkin also had more than 25, and we’re guessing the game plan didn’t call for Alexander Semin to be getting more than 18 in his first game back after a long hiatus.
The second theme was the lack of coordination…this has become a difficult team to watch. How a team with this much talent (on paper) can look like plow horses on offense is one of the great mysteries of this season so far. They look like an uncoordinated bunch of plodders. What offense Alex Ovechkin is able to generate is just that – offense he generates. There is an absence of deft passing that leads to a chance. And it is a club that treats the front of the net as if it was plutonium. There are few ugly goals in the Caps’ body of work this year.
But one of them came during the usual third act of a Caps game this year – the desperate minutes of the third period that allows the team to climb to within a goal, but no further. Chris Clark’s goal with 6:25 to play in the third was as close as one comes to an “ugly” goal for the Caps, sweeping in a loose puck from the top of the crease.
It’s past getting old. It’s become routine, and that’s a really bad sign. There are those who might look at injuries, a bad bounce here or there, or bad ice, or a goaltender having a good night. But this club doesn’t do the things it needs to do at either end – keeping their own crease clear or crashing the other team’s crease – to fight through their problems. They seem to want to do things with “skill,” but they aren’t succeeding at that kind of game, either. And there is no clearer example of that failure than what the Caps have done on 5-on-3 power plays. They butchered another one tonight, before they dug themselves into a big hole. We don’t care if they’re playing on gravel, there is too much talent here to be this inept at this phase of the game, and it’s killing them.
When a club like
That playoff meter over there has been stuck in the low teens for quite a while now – the Caps being 1-7-1 in their last eight games. It’s hard to scare up much in terms of optimism in the cold light of that record. It puts one in the mind of using this...