Monday, March 16, 2009

Posting A Stinker

Capitals 1, Thrashers 5
Scoresheet - Post - Times - AJC

There is a saying in hockey that rings true of all sports, hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard. That was pretty much the story of the Capitals taking the night off against a hard working Atlanta Thrasher squad and getting spanked 5-1.

Eric Fehr scores the only Capital goal with assists by Milan Jurcina and Keith Aucoin.

The Thrashers goaltender, Kari Lehtonen, is quickly becoming the Roberto Luongo in his Florida days of the Southeast Division (great goaltender on a bad team). He made 49 stops. That's right, the Capitals threw 50 shots at him and only one shot slipped past him with 1:16 left to play in the game. The Thrashers took advantage of their goaltender's hot streak.

The Caps got into some penalty trouble and the Thrashers made them pay with three straight power play goals. The Thrashers could do no wrong with the extra man advantage. They were 3 for four on the powerplay and held the Caps scoreless on their four chances.

When the Caps were coming out of their "funk," they did it with solid defense. But in the last two games, the Capitals have seemed to lack that defensive grit that gave them wins against playoff caliber teams in Nashville and Philadelphia. The post a stinker of a game on national television (if you can call Versus national) by getting out-played and out-worked.

It seemed that when the Capitals were down just a goal, their sticks tightened. They clammed up and couldn't make the right play. Just about everyone of the penalties called against them were unnecessary. You can call it playing to the level of their competitor, but you have to credit the Thrashers and Lehtonen for playing a perfect home game against a team that for some reason just didn't move their legs tonight.

The Caps were clearly upset following the game. Alex Ovechkin refused to answer any reporters' questions after having 10 shots turned away by Lehtonen. Bruce Boudreau offered some insight on what his team did tonight. "We did everything wrong that a team could do," Boudreau said. "They played very smart, had a great goaltender and sometimes great goaltenders stand you on your head, and that's what he did."

When the Caps were down, they were also guilty of being a little too fine with their shots, often missing the net or just missing the open man. Ovechkin had seven missed shots himself. Their forecheck was abysmal with only two hits in the first two periods. They were out done in just about every category, only 35% in faceoffs, they were less physical as the Thrashers took them on hits and out-worked as the Thrashers had more take aways.

Brian Pothier played well, but you could see he still has some rust to shake off. One of his biggest concerns was the speed of the game, and you could see he was trying to figure it out all game. There were times he would have the puck just a second too long or he had to look down to make sure the puck was on his stick. Those are things that players just kind of work through and you can only work through them if you are playing at this kind of level.

Puckhead player of the game is Keith Aucoin as he was the hardest working Capital tonight. Boudreau gave him a couple of extra shifts and more ice time as the game wore on. He came away with a +1 on the night, and an assist.

Caps must put together a better defensive effort (mostly by staying out of the sin bin) against Florida. As a general rule, the Caps have not yet won in both back to back games this year and it looks like that trend continues. Rough start to a long road trip.

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