Thursday, February 14, 2008

Off On The Wrong Foot

Capitals 2, Thrashers 3 OT/SO(0-2)
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Capitals need points, and they need their opponents to get none. The last three times they had a chance to help themselves in the standings and to stand alone at the top, they have failed. The have lost all three games. At least in Atlanta they were able to pull out a point and created a three way tie for first in the Southeast Division.

The first period saw the Capitals wipe the ice with the Thrashers. They did everything right, keeping pressure up on the defense, winning the one on one battles, getting shots on net. But just like the game days before with the Thrashers, Atlanta laid in wait and Kari Lehtonen once again stoned the Caps efforts.

Viktor Kozlov finally broke the stalemate with a goal in the second and then the Thrashers jumped to a 2-1 lead after Lehtonen passed the puck to a streaking Marian Hossa. Alex Ovechkin got a late goal to tie it up and it was off to the shoot out where Olie Kolzig couldn't stop a beach ball from going in the net.

The Caps have this very very bad habit of letting their collective foots off the gas once they get a lead. Their play before the goal was inspired, hard working and desperate. After Kozlov scored they seemed lethargic, slow and couldn't win a face off to save their lives in the second period. What is most frustrating part was the Caps had the Thrashers on the ropes. They just couldn't score. Boyd Gordon had 3 or 4 glorious opportunities but couldn't beat Lehtonen.

The Caps were also o for 2 on the powerplay, big surprise. They also lost Tom Poti to a "lower leg injury" in the first. He was listed day to day and is questionable for the game Friday in Sunrise. Again Quintin Laing was a healthy scratch in favor of Eric Fehr and I think they miss his gritty play. While Fehr still is not impressing like maybe they thought he would. Tomas Fleischmann just signed a 2 year extension with the Caps and celebrated with penalty and a -1 with no shots on net.

Now Carolina, Atlanta and Washington are in a 3 way tie for first with 60 points. The Caps can't afford to lose points now, they may never get them back. Every game against their rivals, especially Atlanta and Carolina must be regulation wins, they have to be playoff caliber games. The Caps have to play with some sense of desperation.

The Caps next two games won't be a walk in the park either. Both the Panthers and Lightning are starting to come on strong. If the Caps fall in regulation in both games the path they have to travel becomes a fight for perfection for the rest of the season. They can not afford to allow any division team to gain points.


Anonymous said...

The Capitals just got complacent after their dominating first period and I don't think any team is good enough to win in the NHL these days when they give a half hearted effort.

Garrett said...

Let's hope this lesson gets through in a hurry, so far the Caps have yet to learn it.