Capitals 2, Maple Leafs 3 OT/SO (0-1)
Scoresheet - Post - Times
The Washington Capitals' stagnant offense continues as the they are pushed to a shootout and lose to the lowly, non-playoff, 12th place Toronto Maple Leafs. The Caps lack of offense against a Leaf team, that has been anything but solid on defense, has put serious doubt in the preparedness of the Caps going into the post season. I am not saying they need to push it, but there should be a panic button at hand.
It has been a struggle to finish out the season for the Capitals. After being solid at home for a great majority of the season they have only won one game in the month of March and that came at the reigns of a shootout with Carolina. In fact, March is now the only month this season that the Capitals have had a losing record (March is currently 5-5-2, even with a win against Tampa they would have only won 6 games out of 13).
Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play on a nice speed play set up by Nick Backstrom. Backstrom drew all four defenders in as he crossed the blue line and then hit Ovi with a saucer pass in full speed on the wing. Ovi bypassed his defender and juked Martin Gerber when he moved the puck to his back hand to score his fifty first goal of the year.
Brooks Laich added a last minute goal that was controversial as Laich pushed the puck and the goaltender into the net and the referee counted it. Gerber got up incensed and pushed the ref getting him an automatic ejection, although there was no penalty assessed. Gerber had an arguement though as most referees would not allow that goal after the puck and the goaltender are pushed into the net.
Curtis Joseph came in after Gerber was thrown out and stopped every shot his way including the three shootout trys by the Capitals.
However, and sadly, Gerber's ejection was really not the story of the game from a Capitals' point of view. Their lethargic offense has become stagnant. The Caps can't seem to buy themselves a goal. No one seems immune to the scoring struggles including both Ovechkin and Alex Semin. When the Caps seem to get a scoring chance, it's either an extra pass or a wide shot that keeps them from the scoreboard.
It is an awful time for the team to get Can't-score-a-goal-to-save-their-lives-itus. As much as some of us want to say that the Caps just want the playoffs to start and other teams are trying to end theirs with some pride, that is just one of a multitude of excuses to mask the fact that the Caps are in trouble if they can't get the red light to flash over the opponents' net.
For some reason their forecheck seems less aggressive. There are too many extra passes, being too cute, not stepping up, too many penalties, not enough this, too much that. It can make your head spin. Bottom line, the Caps have to find a way to break their slump. A team of the Capitals' caliber should not be stuck in shootouts with teams below the 8th place standing in their conference.
Thankfully (or unfortunate) the Caps come back to the phone booth for the next four games before finishing the game on the road. Everyone of the teams they face are below the 8th place playoff line. Something has to spark for the Caps' offense to get it back on track.