Friday, February 15, 2008

Slipping Away

Capitals 2, Panthers 4
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

We talk about it all the time. It's like beating a dead horse, finding a new club, then beating it some more. The Capitals have to find ways to close out games when they have the lead. This whole, "Whew, thank goodness we got that goal and now I can work less" has got to stop for the Capitals. They once again blow a lead and this time there would be no heroics from Alex Ovechkin who was held pointless.

Alex Semin was able to give the Caps a power play tally to tie the game in the second. Not long after that Tomas Fleischmann shot a quick snapper past a surprised Tomas Vokoun. Then the Caps took the rest of the night off, with a sloppy break out pass turn over and two soft goals by Brent Johnson who needs to learn how to stay snug to the post.

In the meantime, the Caps fall from first to a tie with the Panthers for 3rd in the span of two games. Once again the Caps lose an important game where they could have put some space between them and the team they are playing in the standings. Since the Philly game where they tooke first in the Southeast, the Caps are 0 for 4 with only one point in games that could keep them in first or put them ahead of the team they were playing losing games to Atlanta (twice), Carolina and now Florida.

Are there bright spots? Of course, the Capitals penalty kill has been a perfect in the last 19 short manned situations. The last time the Caps were scored on shorthanded was in Philly on February 6. That is a pretty astonishing accomplishment that spans now 4 games. They were also able to score on the power play but were only 1 for 4.

Before we got into all this first place business, the Caps played with nothing to lose. I guess now with something to lose, the Capitals are starting to come up short. Somehow Bruce Boudreau has got to get this back to a "nothing to lose" type of team we've seen before. It's been better for this team to make mistakes and play a high risk/high reward game rather than a slow deliberate protection of a lead (isn't that the shell we played under Hanlon?). It's frustrating to see this team who is capable of scoring 4 or more goals in a game to slug along with only 1 or 2 goals a game.

Secondary scoring is absolutely killing this team. Ovie is not going to be Mr. 4-goals-and-an-overtime-winner-every-night (which could be what Ovechkin means in Russian for all I know). The fact that players like Matt Pettinger, Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr and Boyd Gordon haven't produced much offensively is starting to really hurt. There is clearly a lack of depth that has been present. Micheal Nylander is 4th in scoring and he has been out of the line up for a month already.

Right now the only player that is showing up for the Caps wears an 8. That has to change if the Caps hope to go anywhere. The Caps so far have come up with only a single point in their last two, and instead of jumping to a lead in the Southeast, they are in the middle of the log jam and slipping down the standings. The Caps must finish big games, with authority. They have it in them.

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