Thursday, February 28, 2013

A NO-point night -- Game 19: Flyers 4 - Capitals 1

Live by the power play, die by the power play.

The Washington Capitals failed to convert on three power play opportunities, while the Philadelphia Flyers converted on two of their three chances, and that was the hockey game at Wells Fargo Arena last night as the Flyers defeated the Caps, 4-1.

It was not pretty…

-- cover boy Braden Holtby gave up four goals on 18 shots before being relieved by Philipp Grubauer, making his first NHL appearance. 

--  The Big Three of Alex Ovechkin, Mike Ribeiro and Nicklas Backstrom were held without a point and were a combined minus-3. 

--  Ribeiro made an early evening of it by taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a misconduct with four minutes gone in the third period.

--  John Erskine had more shots on goal (2) than Ribeiro (1), Eric Fehr (0), Backstrom (1), Troy Brouwer (0), Jason Chimera (0), and Mike Green (1).

-- 4:04 into the game the Caps had one shot on goal, the Flyers had two goals.  That was not an “eight ball” behind which the Caps found themselves, it was an “eight-boulder.”

-- The fourth line, from which not much offense is to be expected, might be expected to get at least a shot on goal.  In a combined 35:09 of ice time, Matt Hendricks, Joey Crabb, and Jay Beagle recorded no shots on goal and had only three shot attempts (all by Hendricks).

-- Tomas Kundratek (a shot on goal, four attempts, three hits, a takeaway, a blocked shot, and plus-1 in almost 18 minutes) and Tom Poti (an assist, three blocked shots, plus-1, and not on ice for any goals against), were arguably the Caps’ best defensemen last night.  That profile on the back end is not going to win a lot of games for the Caps.

-- Over the last nine games the Caps have been perfect on the penalty kill five times.  They won five times.  They allowed at least one power play goal four times, including last night.  They lost four times.

-- Holtby has a bit of an odd pattern emerging.  In his first game after his first shutout of the season he allowed five goals on 32 shots to Florida.  Last night – his first game after shutting out Carolina on Wednesday night, he allowed four goals on 18 shots.  Not the sort of hangover the club needs.  That extends back a bit in time, too.  After shutting out Minnesota on March 25th last season, he came back in his next game and gave up three goals on 18 shots in 22 minutes

-- The Caps were 7-for-19 on offensive zone faceoffs (36.8 percent).  Ribeiro and Backstrom were a combined 2-for-9. 

-- Hey, at least Grubauer played well.

In the end, the Caps looked dead.  Perhaps that is to be expected after playing the previous night, especially when the Flyers had the extra night of rest and were playing their fourth game of a five-game home stand – reaping the comforts of home, as it were.  Still, it was a missed opportunity to parlay the win over Carolina on Wednesday into a two-fer that would have propelled the Caps within two points of the Hurricanes atop the Southeast Division. 

Now the Caps have a tricky stretch.  First they take the long road to Winnipeg for another “Southeast” Division game before coming home to face the Boston Bruins, winners of 12 of their first 16 games so far this season.  Then they get very winnable (but very losable, given this team) games against Florida and the Islanders before a rematch against the Rangers.  It is a five-game stretch that the Caps need to set up well so that they go into their home-and-home against Carolina in mid-March with something to play for.