Thursday, February 23, 2012

A NO-point night -- Game 60: Senators 5 - Capitals 2

Another road game, another first period goal allowed, another first intermission in which they trailed, another night of power play goals allowed, another goalie pulled, another five-goal game, another loss.

Phil Connors, this is your hockey team.

You half expect that the Washington Capitals should take the ice to Sonny and Cher singing, “I Got You Babe.” This season has certainly acquired that whole “Groundhog Day” vibe. Last night, the Caps dropped yet another road game, this time to the Ottawa Senators by a 5-2 margin, a game that really was not nearly as close as the final score indicates. Why?...

-- Ottawa had a 4-0 lead after 32 minutes. The guys who are supposed to do it for the Senators did it. Precocious defenseman Erik Karlsson opened the scoring with a goal and assisted on the next two. Milan Michalek scored those next two goals.. Jason Spezza had a nice assist on the Karlsson goal, Daniel Alfredsson chipped in an assist. The Senators got secondary scoring – Chris Phillips with a goal from Nick Foligno and Chris Neil. Foligno getting an empty netter from Neil and Sergei Gonchar was the cherry on top of the sundae.

-- The Caps… pulled their starting goalie (Tomas Vokoun..again) after giving up four goals on 11 shots in 32:08. They had 14 of their 35 shots on goal from two players (Mike Green, Jason Chimera). Neither had a goal. They had a player engage in his first fight in more than three years (Brooks Laich, who last fought in Montreal against Ryan O’Byrne on December 13, 2008…how long ago was that? It was Semyon Varlamov’s first game in the NHL). Troy Brouwer had no shot attempts in almost 19 minutes of ice time, and he was on the ice for three goals against.

-- The Caps are now 1-5-1 in their last six games, 2-6-1 in their last nine, and 5-8-3 in their last 16 games. They are 2-6-2 in their last 10 road games. This is a trend.

-- With Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom out, it required that others step up. Well… Alexander Semin did not record his first shot on goal until the 4:41 mark of the second period. By that time the Caps were down, 3-0. Tomas Vokoun had to shut the door. Not that he had much to work with in front of him, but still… four goals on 11 shots? That’s six goals allowed on the last 18 shots he has faced. A .667 save percentage is not quite what the Caps had in mind for a stretch run. Laich, who might be playing on little more than one leg at the moment, did not have a point, lost nine of 12 draws, had that fight (he didn’t pick a patsy; it was Zack Smith’s seventh fight this season), and was on the ice for three goals against. Dennis Wideman did not have a point, was on the ice for three goals against, and took an offensive zone penalty with the Caps on a power play.

-- Speaking of power play… three opportunities, three shots, two goals in 2:39. For Ottawa. Since going 7-for-7 against Montreal on January 18th, the penalty kill is 36-for-49 (73.5 percent).

-- This loss made two years in a row that the Caps won the first three games in the season series against Ottawa, only to lose the fourth game.

-- Things happen when John Carlson is on the ice. He was on for five goals – three for Ottawa, two for the Caps.

OK, so… the Caps have lost to Tampa Bay (11th in the East), Carolina (15th in the East), and Ottawa in the last five days by a combined score of 12-3. They were 1-for-9 on the power play in those three games; their penalty kill was 9-for-12. Two of the losses came to backup goaltenders, one of them getting his first career shutout in the NHL. Their own starting goaltender was pulled twice. Their top two players (humor us) are now on the bench with injuries, another is trying to play through one, and yet another one is just coming back from one.

If this isn’t the worst week of hockey in these parts – on a lot of levels – in the last two decades, they can sure see it from here.

Cue Jim Mora…

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