Wednesday, December 14, 2011
A NO-point night -- Game 29: Flyers 5 - Capitals 1
The Washington Capitals dropped a 5-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers last night that probably was not as close as the score indicated. Oh, sure…the Flyers did not light the lamp until there were less than four minutes remaining in the first period. But by that time the Caps had managed five shots on goal against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, a goalie who had to leave early due to injury in his previous game and might have been solved more often with more shots on goal.
But that was not to be. The Flyers did get that goal in the game’s 17th minute – Scott Hartnell extending his goal-scoring streak to six games. And it was still just a 2-0 game late into the second period. But the Caps were making life easy on Bryzgalov, the Flyers scored a pair in the late stages of the second period, and the competitive portion of the evening was over. Not even Jeff Halpern’s third goal of the season with 6:01 left in the game could provide enough window dressing to make this look like anything but a stinker.
-- If you are going to do something, do it as a team. And last night the Caps sucked as a team. Fifteen different skaters and both goaltenders were on the ice for the five Flyer goals. Halpern, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera were the only Caps not to find themselves on the ice for Flyer scores.
-- The Alexes merit special mention. Ovechkin did not have a shot on goal until the game was decided (for the record, at the 4:19 mark of the third period and the score 4-0, Flyers). He finished with three shots, five attempts, two hits…and no points. Semin had three shots on goal and had five hits, which must be a career high. But he was also on the ice for three Flyer goals, and for those keeping track of such things, he is 0-1-1, minus-8 in his last seven games.
-- Want to see what a team does with adversity? The Flyers lost league leading scorer Claude Giroux to a concussion for the forseeable future, and they are missing top defenseman Chris Pronger. So, 13 different skaters finished the night with points. Guys one does not expect to frequent the score sheet – Braydon Coburn, Max Talbot, Zac Rinaldo, Marc-Andre Bourdon (his first NHL goal), Jody Shelley…Jody Freakin’ Shelley?! – had points. Matt Carle had a pair. If only any of the Caps had a pair last night.
-- By historical standards, this was a tame game. There were only four minor penalties (three by the Flyers), no fighting majors, 43 hits recorded. The Flyers beat the Caps with skill and will.
-- The loss broke a ten game streak by the Caps not falling to the Flyers in regulation time. They were 7-0-3 against Philadelphia over those ten games.
-- That first period was the kind that haunts a team. The Caps get two power plays and manage only two shots on them without converting either of them. Then, less than two minutes after the second power play is killed off, the Flyers get a goal that Tomas Vokoun should have stopped. Hartnell’s shot might have ticked off Dennis Wideman’s stick, but from that distance and angle, that shot needs to be stopped.
-- What was Mathieu Perreault doing on the Bourdon goal? Waving his stick at the puck on its way through served nothing and accomplished less. It might have been Perreault’s stick off which the puck deflected for the goal.
-- The Caps did nothing with possession. Halpern, Brooks Laich, and Nicklas Backstrom were a combined 9-for-11 on offensive zone faceoffs. It’s like getting field position at mid-field four or five times in football and not converting any of them for touchdowns.
-- Conversely, that trio was 4-for-12 in the defensive zone. Not a habit that should be nurtured.
-- The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin had a combined seven shots on goal, 13 shot attempts, eight hits, no points, and was minus-6.
-- Will one of these goaltenders take this job by the throat and do something with it? Vokoun was, to be charitable, off his game. Four goals on 21 shots in 40 minutes. It looked a little too much like the Buffalo game on November 26th, and that was just five appearances ago. Fuel for the fire in the Flyers commenting that they made the right choice of Bryzgalov over Vokoun. Fortunately, there are still more than 50 games and a post season to make them eat their words.
In the end, to quote the narrator in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” this game “stink, stank, stunk.” And that’s all that needs to be said.