Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Great Start, Bad Finish

Caps 2, Flyers 4
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Philadelphia Flyers are known for their shorthanded goals. The Washington Capitals had two prime opportunities shorthanded to increase their lead in the first period. Both breakaway chances, one by Nick Backstrom and the other by Dave Steckel, were wide shots. Missed opportunities the Capitals should have capitalized on, because it came back to bite them in the butt.

Alex Ovechkin was quite the force early in the game. His fake shot pass set up an easy power play goal for Backstrom. Then in the second period, while being hit by his own player (Mike Green), he snapped the puck for the Caps second goal.

It looked like that Caps could do no wrong, but the Flyers are too talented of a team to be counted out. The Flyers got a little bit of life in the second period scoring on the power play. Then they played their system to a tee, wearing down the defense with their physical play and letting their talented forwards go to work.

"We kind of lost our head there in the third. We didn't play smart defensively. We were running around a little bit," Boyd Gordon told reporters after the game.

The Capitals continue to hurt themselves night after night by taking bad, unneccisary penalties. Alex Semin's delay of game penalty after throwing the puck out of the rink set up the Flyers power play goal. The Caps took nine minor penalties, the Flyers only eight. Everytime the Capitals go shorthanded, it kills their offensive momentum. And the Caps seemed to have the Flyers on the ropes playing 5 on 5 for at least two periods.

"They want to limit the obstruction," Brooks Laich told reporters following the game. "We just seem to take lazy, undisciplined, sometimes they can be criticized as selfish penalties. Every game we shoot the puck in our zone over the glass. We've got to limit that. We spent basically [the second period] short-handed."

If the Caps had survived the first two with two goal lead, the third might have been different. But they didn't capitalize on their chances. Backstrom had a breakaway chance and hit the post, Dave Steckel had a breakaway and missed the net by a country mile. Both opportuinties could have put the Caps up 3-0 by the end of the third. Brooks Laich had a chance when he split the defense in the second period but was walled by Antero Nittymaki.

"That was theme of the whole night: not cashing in on chances," Bruce Boudreau said. "We had five or six breakaways. Brooks Laich hit the net on his, but everyone else missed the net. If you don't score when you have the opportunities to, eventually the opportunities dry up and the other team gets opportunities."

The Caps just lost all of their energy in the third. What is so frustrating is we know this team can be so good in the third period. But the game tying goal by the Flyers and the Caps' penalty trouble was just too much to overcome. It is a perfect equation for a loss.

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