Saturday, November 20, 2010

A NO-point night: Thrashers 5 - Caps 0


Well, you can say one thing, there wasn’t any suspense over whether the streak would continue. The Atlanta Thrashers put an emphatic end to the Washingon Capitals’ nine game points streak, 5-0, in what Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau called, “as bad of a defeat I think I have had since I’ve been here.”

At least when the Caps lost to the Chicago Blackhawks by the same score as part of their big stretch run in 2008 they could fall back on the explanation that the Hawks were honoring one of their greats that night (goalie Tony Esposito) and were playing before a sold out and energized crowd.

The Thrashers were playing a nondescript game on the schedule in front of 18 paying customers, seven concessioneers, and a couple of dozen mice.

The games ended up being quite similar – the home team came out early and chased the starting goaltender with an avalanche of goals and coasted to a shutout win. Last night, however, the Caps added the touch of going out meekly – 12 shots in the first, ten in the second, seven in the third period. It was brutal stuff…

-- Like three goals on five shots in 9:07. The kid goaltender (Braden Holtby) took the kind of abuse reserved for the victim in the first five minutes of a crime show in prime time.

-- The Caps have had intermittent trouble with first and second periods this season, but rarely in the same game. Not a problem tonight. They were awful in both periods.

-- The charm of the third line lasted one game. Last night, the trio of Matt Hendricks, Matt Bradley, and Jason Chimera had a total of two shots on goal, three hits, and was a minus-4.

-- Not that the top line was any better. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Knuble had four shots on goal (Knuble having none of them), and was minus-2. Add in when Alexander Semin was swapped in for Knuble late in the second period, and that’s another minus-2 (Semin was a minus-3 for the evening). The 8-19-28 line was scored upon on their first full even-strength shift together last night (the fourth goal).

-- Tyler Sloan is going to want to stay in bed this morning. Minus-4, and it was well earned. On the first goal he took a hit from Ben Eager in the corner, then was slow to follow as Eager skated away and to the net. He still hadn’t caught up when Eager tipped the puck past Holtby to make it 1-0. He was pickpocketed by Dustin Byfuglien in the neutral zone in the second period, whereupon Byfuglien skate in and wristed the puck past relief goalie Michal Neuvirth for the fourth goal. On the others (he was on ice for the first four Atlanta goals) he was merely in the vicinity.

-- John Erskine had his coach turn into a pumpkin, too. Last time these teams met he scored his first goal since the printing press was invented. Last night – minus-3.

There were a couple of good things…

-- John Carlson and Karl Alzner played a combined 40 minutes without a goal scored on them (no mean feat last night) and had only one giveaway.

OK…one good thing.

In the end, there was no mystery about this one. It comes down to something Atlanta’s Nik Antropov said… “enough is enough.” He might have been talking about his own lackluster play lately (he had been benched for two periods on Wednesday), but it was probably a call to arms for Atlanta, which had been another of the punching bags for Washington in the Southeast for three years.

Last night it was Atlanta doing the punching and the Caps hitting the canvas…


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