Saturday, December 15, 2007

A no-point night...Sabres 5 - Caps 3


Maybe it is a measure of what the Capitals accomplished this week that last night’s 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres can be thought of as “disappointing,” rather than “expected.”

Disappointing in that the Caps couldn’t build on an early lead.

Disappointing in that the Caps gave it up with what goaltender Olaf Kolzig called, “a rookie mistake.”

Disappointing in giving up a goal in the final two minutes of each period – the first two tying the game, the last one clinching it.

Disappointing in not capitalizing on their possession advantage in the first two periods.

Disappointing in that the effort that one might have expected in a game where an opportunity existed to pick up a place or two in the standings was inconsistent.

One could tell that things were amiss when the Caps picked up a pair of too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties in the first 25 minutes of the game (there were three called on the night, the other on the Sabres) – the first of which was called less than a minute into the contest.

And last night was a night for the hockey gods to administer a dose of humility to this week’s object of Caps fans affection – Mike Green. A -3 for the night, and looking like a cornerback victimized on a deep pass when Maxim Afinogenov slipped behind him for a breakaway goal (the second of those last-two-minute goals). Adding insult to injury, it almost looked as if Kolzig might have been able to make the save on the play, but the puck seemed to be nudged by Green at the end of the sequence.

Bruce Boudreau mentioned that, "I didn't think we had 19 players playing to their capabilities.” If one of those 19 had a bulls-eye on his sweater, it was Alexander Semin. Another Cap with a -3, he had a brutal night. For a sniper to register no shots on goal (he had five attempts blocked and missed a sixth) just won’t get it done, and if the Caps’ effort was inconsistent, Semin was an example of that. If his ankle isn’t bothering him, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to find him out of the lineup for tonight’s game in Tampa.

But singling out Semin isn’t constructive, and it isn’t as if he was the only Cap who had problems. No one could be said to have had a good game, and in that cloud there is the hint of a silver lining. They were in this game until the empty-netter, despite a less-than-stellar effort. The power play was aggressive and looked crisp for stretches. The “ooh-and-ahh” factor with the man-advantage certainly has been improved. The penalty killing unit was effective in that no goals were allowed, even if they had their moments where virtual tap-ins were missed by the Sabres. They might even have pulled this one out, had Olaf Kolzig not had his moments (the Derek Roy short-handed “empty netter” when Kolzig whiffed on a lazy one-handed sweep pass -- the rookie mistake -- chief among them, a goal that slammed momentum the Caps had at the time to a halt).

The problem with this game, and perhaps the attitude, might be reflected in a quote from Tom Poti after the game…

“It would have been nice to win four in a row at home. We've got to be ready tomorrow."

Brooks Laich seemed to pick up on it…

“We let this one get away. It's been the story of our season so far."

Nice?...They should have won four at home…Buffalo did not play an especially good game. The Caps handed them two points. And given where the Caps are in the standings, they need to be ready every night, or it’s going to be a winter of “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s.”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peerless,

Can you post a link to a larger version of your "caption of the day."

It's a great picture of AO slamming his stick in frusteration.

DMG said...

I'm not Peerless, but here ya go anon.

I think with how frustrating that game was it's easy to lose track of all the great things that happened on this homestand: winning three of four from difficult opponents, getting their offense going, showing they can win close games and, perhaps most importantly, playing with confidence. It would be hard to overestimate the effect of the newfound confidence for the players - earlier in the season they would have folded in each of the last four games and picked up two points if they were lucky.

Hopefully they pick up two against Tampa tonight - they should beat that team.

Jordan said...

I came to a lot of the same conclusions in my post. My girlfriend is insistent that Kolzig has lost whatever touch he used to have. Olie made a pretty good case for it in this game, between whiffing on that puck and not being tight on his post again.

Great showing at home in the last few games, though. Makes me excited for the next one I can see live.

Christopher said...

Wow, that is a great Poti quote. That pairing of Poti and Jurcina scares me.