Saturday, February 13, 2010

Caps Drag 3 Game Losing Streak Into Break

Capitals 3, Blues 4 OT/SO (0-1)
Game Summary

Often during a winning streak, little mistakes can be missed if you end up winning the game. Those mistakes can become bad habits and bad habits are hard to break. For the Capitals, the past three games have exposed some of their bad habits and the result is losing three straight games after a record run of 14 consecutive wins. Their latest loss was a shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues 4-3.

The Caps once again allowed their opponents the first goal, forcing them to come back. They gave up the first goal mid way through the first period after Blues forward Cam Janssen blindsided Matt Bradley along the boards a good 3 seconds after Bradley had given up the puck. Janssen was given a (get this) 5 minute major for interference. But the Caps never got to use the major as Quintin Laing came in defense of his teammate and the officials threw the book at him giving him two minors and basically washing out the Janssen major and making it 4 on 4 for four minutes.

The Blues would score while 4 on 4 but would take a penalty not long after that. As Laing's penalties expired, it would give the Caps a 5 on 3 power play which Mike Knuble scored on in front of the net. The Blues would again take the lead in the second, only to be answered once again by Alex Semin who fired it off the cross bar and in the net. Again, the Blues would come back to score on the power play.

Knuble would tie the game up again and the Caps tried to make an effort to shut down the Blues. But the third period the game would become a stalemate between both teams. The Caps would only manage 4 shots in the final frame. They had more chances than the Blues in the overtime period, but they couldn't put the game away drawing it to a shootout.

The Caps sudden loss of scoring seemed to hinder them in the one on one shootout. Not one Capital was able to beat Blues' goaltender Chris Mason. David Perron would win it for St. Louis and the Caps can only manage two points in their last three games.

It is a terrible way to end the stretch going into a long break. But maybe the two week Olympic Break can help the Caps correct those bad habits. Among some of the bad habits are not tying up men in front of the net, bad breakouts and turnovers in the neutral zone. They also have had troubles with an aggressive forecheck as the Capital defenders seem to miss play or turnover the puck on the break out and not able to cover as their opponent transitions.

The Caps have also run into special teams problems. While their power play tops the league, it is their penalty kill that is suffering. They rank first in the league with the extra man, they are a mortal 25th in the league (79.1%) dealing with the other teams' power play. On the road, it's ranked 29th (72.3%). Second only to Toronto for the worst penalty kill on the road. Washington's penalty kill was 17th in the league a season ago.

Caps Notes:
  • Olympians Alex Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann will spend the night in St. Louis before heading to Vancouver to join their respective teams for the Olympics. Russia will play Latvia on Tuesday (9 pm), Sweden will play Canada on Wednesday (2:30 pm) and Czech Republic will play Slovakia in the late game on Wednesday (9 pm). Team USA will play Switzerland 12 noon on Tuesday. Check here for your local TV listings.
  • Mike Knuble had a pair of goals tonight and was the game's third star. He has capped a wonderful run scoring 15 points in the last 11 games. Ovechkin's 9 game point streak was snapped against the Blues.
  • Matt Bradley was hit early in the first period, blindsided by Cam Janssen after he made the pass. Janssen caught the Caps' forward looking the other way after Bradley made a pass. Bradley would not return to the game.
Happy Olympic Break!

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