Saturday, December 08, 2007

A no point night...Devils 3 - Caps 2


“The Capitals did…manage to make it interesting at the end for the 16,265 in attendance.”

That will be the quote – from this morning’s story by Tarik El-Bashir in the Washington Post – that will come back to haunt the Caps this season, one that sank just a little further into the void with last night’s 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Newark.

The quote has meaning on several levels...

First, last night’s loss was the tenth one-goal loss of the year (regulation and overtime) – most in the NHL.

Second, it was once more a reflection of the Caps’ ineffectiveness in close games – their 3-8-2 record in one-goal games is worst in the NHL (this has ominous overtones for this evening that we’ll note later).

Third, this is the sixth time in a one-goal loss where the Caps found themselves two-goals down in the third period. They scored that one goal to, well…”make it interesting,” but not another one to make it even.

The Caps found themselves not quite good enough in just about everything…

They came out with less jump than the Devils to start the game. One might have expected the Devils to come out hard – they were in the midst of an eight-game winning streak and were honoring defenseman Scott Stevens last night – but to come out with the appearance of no energy…that just wasn’t what one would have expected after having a five-day break.

The Caps just didn’t have the “will and the want,” as head coach Bruce Boudreau put it after the game…

-- The Devils out-hit the Caps, 18-11

-- The Devils won the turnover battle, 9-12.

-- The Devils blew the Caps away in the faceoff circle, winning 33 of 53 draws (62.3 percent)…John Madden and Patrik Elias were a combined 24-9 (72.7 percent).

-- The Devils were 1-for-5 on the power play, the Caps 0-for-4

-- Dainius Zubrus renewed acquaintances with his old club by scoring the power play goal by picking up the garbage of a shot stopped by Kolzig (imagine that, an ugly goal…), then planted Alexander Ovechkin into the side boards, leaving Ovechkin a little worse for wear.

-- Brian Pothier’s fair imitation of Sergei Gochar, throwing the puck up the middle where Vitaly Vishnevski intercepted it and then slipped a backhand past Olaf Kolzig for the first goal, one that Kolzig would seem to want back…

-- And in what was the whole game wrapped into a five second sequence, Sheldon Brookbank took a shot that Kolzig stopped, but Tom Poti could not handle Travis Zajac at the top of the crease…Zajac outfought Poti, Kolzig could not turn the shot away, and the goal – the eventual winner – found its way into the net.

At least they managed to avoid allowing a second period goal...

OK, let’s get the obligatory rationalizations out of the way. The Caps were missing Chris Clark, Michael Nylander, and Boyd Gordon…they were playing a team on a hot streak…they had to wait as the Devils had their ceremony for Scott Stevens…they had some rust from a five-day layoff…they were playing a team that leads a division in which four of the teams have at least 30 points and are in the top-eight playoff mix…

Bull…

Individually and collectively, there were just enough miscues, mistakes, and errors in judgment to allow the Caps to be close, but not close enough…New Jersey was ripe for the plucking, and the Caps let them off the hook with an uninspired effort, certainly one that betrayed any notion that this is a desperate team looking to get on a streak of any kind.

The Caps played just well enough to make it interesting, and that has been the story of their season. One goal short in more than half their losses…

Oh, by the way….Atlanta – tonight’s opponent – has the best record in one-goal games in the NHL (7-1-1).

2 comments:

Christopher said...

Wow, is it possible that I am more optimistic than Peerless?

First things first, I did not see the game last night. That said, I expected to check your blog this morning and see that the Caps had been blown out by about 6 or 7-2. While the excuses you listed at the end of your post are exactly that, they were not unpredictable. To me, the bigger test is tonight. They will have to win 3 out of the next 4 at home to keep my attention.

DMG said...

I don't think the fact that the team missing Clark, Nylander and Gordon is a bull excuse, Peerless. In a one goal game having those guys in the lineup could have made the difference; it's the same thing as when they were losing by one goal without Semin, Clark and Poti. You have to figure that if the Caps have good health they're winning 1/2 of the one-goal games, right?