Tonight was an affirmation of the concept of transition, and the ability of the Montreal Canadiens to pass from one form (defense, short-handedness), state (generally passive), style (clogging the Caps’ passing lanes), or place (their own zone, the neutral zone) to another (stuffing the puck down the Caps’ throats on odd-man rushes) killed the Caps in a 4-0 loss for the visitors.
Statistically, the numbers of the game didn’t weigh heavily toward one club or the other, except where it mattered – on the scoreboard. The Caps fell victim to the very things they couldn’t afford…an inability to stay out of the box when in mattered (John Erskine’s first delay of game penalty led to the Canadiens’ first goal), an inability to keep Montreal from a fast start (down 3-0 after one period), and a failure to generate anything in the second period to keep things close going into the third period. The result was a game played on and settled in
It’d be hard to fault the goalie for this one, as Brent Johnson didn’t get much help on
Mark Streit one-timed a pass from Andrei Markov through a Chris Higgins screen of Johnson for goal number one (power play)…
Tomas Plekanec intercepted a pass from Tomas Fleischmann in the
Steve Begin collected a puck behind the Caps net after it managed to elude Brent Johnson (who if he played it might have earned a minor penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid of despair) and rifled in to an onrushing Saku Koivu, who no Cap saw or marked as he stormed down the slot, for goal number three (even-strength).
Goal number four – a power play goal in the last minute of the contest by Alexei Kovalev – was window dressing. The competitive portion of the game essentially ended with the Kastsitsyn goal, with the nail driven into this coffin by Koivu late in the first period.
The Caps were flat.
Since the lockout, the Caps are 4-6-1 against
That sort of problem doesn’t show up in the numbers. None stick out as being especially bad (well, there being no “plus” numbers does), but rather there was a team-wide problem. No player was worse than -1 (except Mike Green, who might need to re-think the idea of what position he plays…”defenseman”). 14 of 18 skaters registered shots on goal (the Caps had a total of 35; Tom Poti led with five); 13 of 18 skaters had hits (Alex Ovechkin had five). Ever Cap who took more than one draw won the majority of them or broke even (they were 32-of-55 overall).
The more impressive numbers, and those indicative of the superior effort, are on the
This wasn’t a fluke;