Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A ONE-Point Night -- Game 46: Oilers 5 - Capitals 4 (OT/Gimmick)

The Washington Capital lost last night for the third game in a row, a 5-4 Gimmick loss to the Edmonton Oilers.  You can read our recap of the game at Japers’ Rink here, but we had a few more thoughts on the game.

It was an especially disappointing loss for a number of reasons:
  • The Caps got out to a two-goal lead and outshot the Oilers, 6-0 at even strength over the first 14:25 of the game.  Over the last 45:35, the Caps were out-shot at even strength, 24-13, and were out-scored, 3-1.
  • The Caps had, not one, and not two, but three two-goal leads against a team that was 3-19-5 when allowing the first goal of the game.
  • The Caps had a lead at the first intermission against a team that had not won a game all season when trailing at the first intermission.  Let me repeat that… the Caps had a lead at the first intermission against a team that had not won a game all season when trailing at the first intermission.  They had a lead at the second intermission against a team than had one win when trailing at the second intermission.  And they lost.
  • They lost as a team that had lost only four times all season (three times in extra time) in 27 games when scoring first.  They lost as a team that had lost only twice (once in extra time) in 16 games when leading after one period, only three times (twice in extra time) in 24 games when leading after two periods.
  • The Caps took five minor penalties in the last 24:49 of regulation time.  Matt Niskanen took two of them, and his partner, Karl Alzner, took one.  That’s not really a productive use of your second pair defensemen’s available ice time.
  • Braden Holtby allowed three goals on the last 15 shots he saw in regulation time.
  • Alex Ovechkin scored two goals on three shots in his first five shifts totaling 3:02 of ice time.  In his last 15:42 of ice time for the evening he had one shot on goal.
  • Ovechkin saw only 18:44 in a 65-minute game.  That’s light by three or four minutes.  See that item about the five minor penalties in the last 24:49 for a reason why.
  • Nine of the last 11 games the Caps played were one-goal decisions, dating back to their 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on December 29th.  They need to get better at it.  Their record in those nine games is 4-2-3, and their overall record in one-goal games (12-8-9) is 23rd in the league in winning percentage.  Only Colorado (29) has been involved in more one-goal decisions than the Caps.
  • Three goals by the top line (two by Ovechkin, one by Nicklas Backstrom), one by the fourth line (Jay Beagle).  Seven shot attempts by the second line (Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Troy Brouwer).  Nary a secondary peep.

In a way, given the context – an opportunity to tie the New York Rangers for second in the Metropolitan Division in standings points, playing a struggling team, looking to get to the All Star Game break on a high note – it might have been the Caps’ worst effort of the season.  It certainly was their worst effort since Thanksgiving.  One might reason that away by saying that these things happen, that in an 82-game season, stinkers will happen.  But now the Caps are on a three-game losing streak for the first time since they had a five-game slide at the end of October and beginning of November. 

The schedule gets difficult quickly when the Caps return to action, with Pittsburgh, Montreal, St. Louis, and Los Angeles in succession after the Caps open with Columbus.  A west coast trip follows soon thereafter.  They need to put this losing nonsense behind them, pronto.