Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Better In The Playoffs

You know all those fortune cookie fortunes sound better with the ending "in bed." At least the adult version (or if you get a fortune like I did, "You will get caught", not fun reading in front of the wife). When it comes to the NHL, there is no doubt it is better with the post saying: "In the Playoffs".

The Hockey News is a magazine someone subscribed to me eons ago and it normally finds a home on the back of the throne. But perusing through the May edition of this year, I came across some numbers that astounded me and prove that things are better post regular season. I wanted to break down some of their numbers in their article "2010-2011 Playoff Pace" (on newstands now).

The following numbers have been compiled to show the difference between the regular season versus the playoffs. Some increases are minor in size, some significant. But all prove the point that we suffer through 82 games to get to the beauty that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Attendance (building capacity)

Reg. Season: 92.7% vs. Playoffs: 101.2% - Okay, just about every team in the top three or four in the conference has boasted sell out crowds leading up to the end of the season (if not all season long). Let's take out the fact that the NHL only recognizes sold tickets and not turntables for attendance (if you were wondering, give away tickets do count as sold tickets). So even though a team could say it is a sell-out crowd, you may see a few of your fellow fans didn't make it to the arena.

But in the playoffs the numbers seem to match more closely, tickets sold in this case really does mean butts in seats for a playoff game. Plus it's always fun to have more of your fellow fans to taunt, cheer and berate the action.

Goals per game

Reg. Season: 5.46 vs. Playoffs: 5.54 - Goals are always a good thing, and this year even though the gpg is slight, the scoring has seen an increase most likely because teams once scored on are going all out to tie the game up. Not to mention we have seen a couple of really good 1-0 and 2-1 games this post season. So you would expect naturally this number would go up.

Fights per game

Reg. Season: .524 vs. Playoffs: .135 - It certainly not due to the effort of the NHL to suppress fighting in the game, but rather an acknowledgement that a fight doesn't cure a badly played game. It also points to the need for four solid lines as each shift suddenly becomes more and more important. Guys are not settling old bets, they realize that they need to stay out of the penalty box or face the wrath of a really good power play. Besides, players have their whole careers to settle sore scores.

Hits per game

Reg. Season: 45.5 vs. Playoffs: 60.9 - While the Playoffs are often called the sprint after an 82 game marathon season, a seven game series can be gruelingly long. Hits are all that more important as a team wants to tire the opposition and play physical hockey through out. Besides, you tell an NHLer he is in the playoffs and he is guaranteed not to forget to finish his checks. I am actually surprised the number isn't bigger.

Blocked Shots per game

Reg. Season: 28.4 vs. Playoffs: 33.9 - Again, it is all about sacrificing the body. Players are understanding the importance of blocking shots. A puck that doesn't get to the net is a puck that doesn't end up in the back of one. I think Aristotle said that.

Power Play percentage

Reg. Season: 18.9 vs. Playoffs: 17.3 - This number did surprise me at first. But once you really think about it, teams in the playoffs do not get there with out a good penalty kill. It's a slight decrease in part due to the amount of blocked shots go up (a trade off of sorts). The number is surprising considering the next stat.

PIM per game

Reg. Season: 24.5 vs. Playoffs: 25.9 - It is surprising the number of penalties called per game has actually gone up, while the power play numbers are going down. You might say that the Officials might be calling the games tighter. But I actually think the opposite is true. Players are more apt to reign in an opposing player once they are beat and take the penalty rather than give up a quality scoring chance.

I do think the Referees, for the most part, are letting some of the ticky-tac calls go and looking for the obvious calls. A player is not only scrutinized by fans and on national TV, but in the locker room as well by coaches. If a player gets beat on the ice, then he better do whatever he can to stop it from becoming a scoring chance which includes hooking the player or slashing his stick in two. Plus with the good PK's going around, why take the chance.

Save percentage

Reg. Season: .913 vs. Playoffs: .916 - Goaltending only gets better in the post season. But don't take my word for it, look at what Roberto Loungo and Tim Thomas are doing. They are practically willing their teams to the finals. There is no doubt that the goaltenders kick it into another gear when Stanley's Cup is being flashed around.

Some pretty interesting numbers for sure. But it all the stats can't take away from what these amazing athletes can push themselves to do. Save percentage is just a number compared to a "Hail Mary" stick save by Thomas in Game 5 can do. Or useless stat as blocked shots means nothing to Steven Stamkos' nose and three shifts later he is on the ice again. There is much more than numbers to prove how special the post season is. It is just nice to see that some stats seem to share that sentiment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zach's Back

Capitals announced today the resigning of Zach Miskovic. A young prospect defenseman that has enough potential to be tagged along for one more year. Per Hershey Bears PR:
HERSHEY – The HERSHEY BEARS announced today in conjunction with the NHL’s Washington Capitals that defenseman Zach Miskovic has been signed to a contract for 2011-12. The announcement was made today by BEARS President/GM Doug Yingst.
Miskovic, 26, enjoyed a career-high seven goals and accumulated 16 points in 58 games this year for HERSHEY, his second pro season. A four-year letter-winner out of St. Lawrence University, Miskovic led all NCAA defensemen in goals during his senior season with the Saints.  He originally signed with Washington in July of 2009, and has played in 11 career Calder Cup playoff games. His career-best seventh goal of the season came on February 6 vs. Manitoba.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Other UFA's and RFA's Of Note

All week we have taken a look at the Caps that are unrestricted free agents. There are a few more of note, but it is likely that they will be resigned or will be dumped. We can take a quick look at all the minor notes for the Capitals that can change this team in the coming summer months.

RFA: Karl Alzner - The Capitals would be stupid not to sign the rookie defenseman to an extension. At this point it would be about finding the right number to keep him in a Capitals uniform. Since he is a restrictive free agent, the Caps do have the right to match any offer made to him by any other team. In 82 games played, Alzner racked up two goals and ten assists. But it is his defensive positioning that is impeccable and often he can read the play and defuse an offensive attack. He was a +12 on the season.

RFA: Andrew Gordon - Averaging just over a point a game in Hershey, Gordon brings some reliability in scoring for the Bears on the farm team. But in 9 games with the big club he only had a goal and an assist. His size is a big negative on his game, but he makes up for it by being an opportunistic goal scorer.

UFA: Dany Sabourin - Brought in as a possible back up at the big club level, he spent all his time down at Hershey and then just disappeared off the map as the Caps would rather call up Braden Holtby.  Sabourin did not play a single regular season game for the Capitals and it is likely he will go to the open market come July.

UFA: Micheal Nylander - Free at last, free at last. This marks the last year the Caps will play the forward since acquiring him in free agency in 2007. When the Caps made a change in coaching, Nylander was the odd man out and he spent most of the last couple of years playing for minor league teams and in Europe as well. He played last season with the Rochester Americans and only played 7 games and had 4 goals and 2 assists.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

UFA: Scott Hannan

Traded for during the Capitals 8 game losing streak for potential prospect Tomas Fleischmann, Scott Hannan was brought in to bring some muscle to the blue line. He was a band-aid on a beat up blue line with Tom Poti struggling to stay healthy. Hannan had a single goal this season and four assists in 55 games for Washington. Total numbers is 11 points with six more assists with the Avalanche.

Hannan brings some great experience especially in the playoffs with his years spent in both Colorado and San Jose. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Hannan played consistent enough not to be a liability and in the end for a defenseman that is a good attribute. He became dependable for staying healthy and playing solid on the back end. A big guy at 6-1, 225 lbs., he uses his size efficiently well.

It is unclear if he was just a rental for McPhee for this season. When GMGM pulled this trade, it was relative early. Acquired in November he was there for the long losing streak and played well inside Bruce Boudreau's defense-first system.

Reasons to keep:

Hannan is a solid defenseman that can log the minutes and is very dependable in almost all situations. He is a good compliment for some of the puck moving defensemen the Caps have playing his stay-at-home style. He isn't afraid of a little contact and his long career experience is invaluable.

Reasons to dump:

At $4.5 million, he is a pretty expensive band-aid. With the acquisition of Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline who also happens to make $4.5 million the easy decision is to let him go to greener pastures. Hannan adds really no offensive assets, but his experience will drop his name on a score sheet or two for assists.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

UFA: Marco Sturm

Another player picked up at the trade deadline, not because of a trade however. Instead he was picked up off of waivers. Marco Sturm was brought in to bolster the offense for the playoffs. Sturm definitely added some punch, but his numbers were low. He was apart of the Joe Thornton trade which sent the all-star forward to San Jose from Boston. Boston traded him to LA and he missed most of the season recovering from a lower body injury.

In the 18 games he played in for the Capitals he only mustered one goal and had seven assists. Meager numbers for some one that had some good scoring chances in just about every game he played in. The Caps were hoping he was just a little rusty from his recovery off ice. But his lack of offensive production seemed to carry over into the playoffs. He had only one goal and two assists in the post season.

Sturm added another aspect to the Caps' offensive punch, but if he doesn't score what good could he really be.

Reason to keep:

He has experience and is a solid forward. He was also excited to play with this team when he heard the Caps took him off the waiver wire. His price tag is moderate at $3.5 million and with a full off season could come back healthier than ever and ready to make a bigger splash in Caps' red. Sturm's speed and hands are an asset.

Reason to dump:

Even though his price tag is not much, it is far to high for an offensive player only averaging one goal every 13.5 games. His injury can also be a problem down the road and staying healthy through a full season will be helpful. Since he was brought on board as a rental, it is unlikely McPhee will resign him in the off season.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

UFA: Boyd Gordon

Face offs are so important. It can lead to a great offensive chance or fend off an attack in the defensive zone. The Capitals did away with the league's best face off guy in David Steckel. So Boyd Gordon picked up the reigns and was the Caps go to guy on the face off dot. He proved a useful face off man in the post season. He was first in the league up to the point the Caps were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gordon is a great defensive player. However he is far from a two-way player. Through 60 games, he has only tallied three goals and six assists in the regular season. But the Capitals do not need Gordon to score, but to keep winning face offs for them. They might use him for some intimidation tactics because he has quite the mean scowl when he wants to use it.

As long as he is healthy and keeps winning draws, Gordon will always find a spot on the Caps roster.

Reasons to keep:

Gordon proves to be a good defensive player and can hold down the checking line. His face off value is of real importance. The Caps do benefit from winning draws, especially in the offensive zone. His expertise is helpful.

Reasons to dump:

While Gordon's face off percentage makes him valuable he still hasn't cracked the top 30 in the face off list this season. He also has a nagging back injury that seems to conjure up at the wrong time. He has yet to play a full season.

Gordon does not add much in offense either. The best he has done was 29 points in the '06-'07 season. His production has slipped each year since his career best season.

Monday, May 09, 2011

UFA: Matt Bradley

Some may joke that when Matt Bradley bleeds, the Caps find a way to win. A role player that doesn't mind dropping the mitts. Bradley was a choice by McPhee had to make at the end of the '07-'08 season when the Caps lost to the Flyers in seven games. It was either the young Bradley or the agitator Matt Cooke. McPhee stuck with Bradley and hind sight being 20/20, it was a good call.

Bradley doesn't add much offensively. In 61 games played, he only tallied four goals and seven assists. He did rack up the penalty minutes with 10 fighting majors under his belt. Bradley showed some offensive deft when he racked up 6 points in the playoffs in '08-'09 season. It helped the Capitals to do away with the New York Rangers and kept the series with the Pittsburgh Penguins close.

The Caps benefit from Bradley's tough play. He can boost moral with a drop of the gloves and has the straight forward speed to make him somewhat of an offensive threat. This year he has sort of disappeared in the new defensive system. But he still had solid year for what the Caps use him for.

Reasons to keep:

Bradley adds a lot to the locker room and to the environment. He actions are usually moral boosters for the bench. Whether it is a big hit or an offensive chance from the checking line, he is a fan favorite in Rock the Red nation. He firmly understands his role as a protector for the higher paid players. He has the hockey smarts to understand what he needs to know to stay at the NHL level.

Reasons to dump:

There might be a bump in salary. At the moment Bradley makes $1 million a season. A bump in pay would take him into a level that would pressure him to produce more offensively. The Caps already have a drop his gloves guy in Matt Hendricks and having the pair could just be taking up space both on the bench and the roster.

Bradley has not produced a point this post season and was a -3.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

UFA: Jason Arnott

Acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for David Steckel, the Caps needed to bolster their center position with a leader like Jason Arnott. He came in and changed the dynamic of the team on the very first day he stepped in the locker room. Added to the second line with Alex Semin, his words and actions seemed to help the Caps become a more complete team as they did not lose a game in regulation for the rest of the season.

Arnott's regular season numbers for the Capitals were impressive considering he was a scratch for a stretch of games for the New Jersey Devils. Through eleven games he had four goals and three assists. In the playoffs he did okay with a goal and five assists.

When asked if he would like to come back, Arnott replied, "Absolutely." So did the rest of the Caps nation.

Reasons to keep:

Arnott did bring leadership to the locker room. His championship ring carries a lot of weight when addressing the rest of the team. He has been there for bad loses in the post season and he has been through the battles and won. That experience is worth its weight in gold.

His size and productivity does not hurt either. He has averaged 52 points in the last 5 seasons.

Reasons to dump:

I can take his age, but not the price tag. The Devils payed him at $4.5 million a season and it is unlikely he will take a price drop just to stick with a team he only played 20 games with. More than likely a lesser team will take the price tag to bring some sort of offensive help to a struggling line up. $4.5 million off the payroll could free up some space for other changes in the line up.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

UFA: Brooks Laich

It wasn't a career season for Brooks Laich, but it was a solid season for the center/winger. Laich played all 82 regular season games for the Capitals but only racked up 16 goals and 32 assists. A little off from the season before where he netted 25 goals and 34 assists in the '09-'10 season.

Laich is not a player that the Capitals depend on heavily for points, but when he is producing offensively the team benefits. He is shaping up to be a good two way player and no one doubts Laich's passion to win. However, his ultra competitiveness demeanor is sometimes a down point. Even Bruce Boudreau admits that Laich can wear himself down through the course of a game.

Washington acquired Laich from Ottawa for Peter Bondra in the big sell off before the lockout in 2005. The Capitals definitely need more characters like Brooks Laich. It should not be a surprise that McPhee signs the talented forward to a long term contract. But that has yet to come to fruition.

Reasons to keep:

Laich does provide consistency on a team that is often emotional and inconsistent. He holds a second line position and a third line position. He is coachable and brings a competitive attitude to the locker room. When he makes the score sheet there is a good chance it leads to a Capital win.

He is a versatile player that can be thrown on the ice in various situations. He has proven he can cover on defense when he has to and doesn't mind switching wing position or centering a line.  

Plus he will win you a few PR awards for being a good guy and changing flat tires on the 14th Street bridge. He is well liked in the locker room and respected by his piers.

Reasons to dump:

Brooks Laich came off a career year but did not produce to the same level this year. His potential might have plateaued leaving him to only being a 10 to 15 goal a season player. He also needs to even out his emotions during a game and work towards a positive frame of mind during games instead of over working to make something happen. Practicing patience might be a hard lesson for him to learn.

He might ask for more than what the market would pay for him to stay a Capital and usually that ends with him testing free agency on July 1.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Where To Go From Here?

It was a quick exit for the Caps. Apologies to fans from the owner, some job security for a coach by a general manager and all around bad feeling for just about everyone else. What is done, can not be undone so all there is left to do is look to the future of the franchise. Where do the Capitals go from here?

The first thing they have to do is analyze what went wrong. The Capitals thought that changing their system to a more defensive style would prove useful come playoff time. It did work. If you look at game five against the New York Rangers, the Capitals played their system to a tee. They were patient, played responsible in the defensive zone and their transition from defense to offense lead to a few goals.

But in the series against the Lightning, their iron clad system turned into confusion and mental mistakes. Resiliency turned into panic and poor decision making. Some of it can be blamed on youth. A third of the Caps defensive corps are rookies. Some of it could be blamed on role players not stepping up and adding to the score sheet.

The Capitals are an emotional team. The Lightning gave them very little to react to. There were no fights, no real scrums. Tampa kept their emotions in check and the Capitals had little to work on. They couldn't get under the skin of top players like Marty St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. There was nothing to build a cause around and they just got out played. I think we all remember what Steve Downie tried to do getting into a fight with Ovechkin in the regular season. It ended up bolstering the Caps bench and Matt Bradley came to the rescue. But the Bolts didn't give the Caps much to work with in the playoffs.

Now the Caps have to correct it when they face this type of game again. Brooks Laich is a unrestricted free agent this summer, as is Jason Arnott, Matt Bradley, Marco Sturm and Boyd Gordon. George McPhee might try to hold on to a few, but all were non factors in the series against the Lightnin (just two goals total and a combined -2 for those 5 players in four games).

McPhee could try to re-energize his team with some proven role players. Bring in some guys who know what their job is and do it well. An agitator when he needs to be, a fighter to protect his team and some one who isn't afraid to score a goal or two.

As far as his defense looks, McPhee has masterfully protected his blue line with some great youth. Karl Alzner and John Carlson have been fantastic on the back end for Washington, often matched up with top lines on opposing teams. With youth coming up the pipeline in Dmitri Orlov the Caps will be okay on the back end. Alzner is a RFA this summer, but I don't think McPhee will have any trouble resigning the young defenseman.

The netminders look good too. Michal Neuvirth's first season as a Capital was a success. He was the best goaltender in the playoffs before they ran into the Lightning. Even if back up Semyon Varlamov goes to the KHL, which he is rumored to do, Braden Holtby will be more than capable filling in. The Caps are solid with three youthful goaltenders that have nothing but potential ahead of them.

Let's face it, the young guns (Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom and Mike Green) aren't getting much younger. These core players actually have the clock against them. Green's contract ends next year, as does Semin. If a contracts can't be negotiated, the pair could be traded for something in return (not saying that will happen, McPhee has done funnier and less funnier things).

The power play needs to be revamped. After only scoring 2 goals for 19 chances against the Lightning (one goal on a 5 on 3), the extra man advantage needs to find a better system. Part of their problem is their predictability. It is a problem that plagued the Capitals all season long. They look for the one timer opposite side of the overload. Backstrom feeds the cross ice pass to shooters Green, Semin and Ovechkin and Mike Knuble cleans up the garbage. But teams have started to be more aggressive on the passer and take away the center of the ice. Instead of a quick pass, the Caps are still looking for the cross ice pass, often forcing it if it isn't there.

The easiest solution to the power play woes is to practice moving the puck much faster and puck control inside the zone. Practicing patience and wearing down the penalty killers could lead to mistakes by the defensive team and open seams to one timers or better. The system doesn't always work, but it does lead to offensive chances and also tires the goaltender who has to go from post to post to keep up with the passes and fake shots.

The penalty kill is fine. Although it would be best if the Capitals practiced some discipline. They changed their penalty kill to be more aggressive and the killers they have also add an offensive threat to keep other teams honest. It wasn't perfect against the Bolts, they scored at least a power play goal in three of four games in the series.

There will be a whole lot of questions this summer yet to be answered. Will the Caps be able to hold on to the players they need while improving their team? Will the power play change? Will the Caps go in a different direction with their offense? The sad thing is we will have to wait until September to get all the answers.

Caps notes:
  • Ovechkin is off to play in the World Championship. After admitting he had been injured for most of the season according to Wash Post. He was recovering from surgery in March during his "rest." Ovi stayed mum on the injury and blamed most of his lack of offensive production due to his focus on the post season.
  • Other injuries that were disclosed: Mike Knuble (broken thumb), Mike Green (hip flexor), John Carlson (hip pointer), Jason Arnott (had knee surgery late in the season). Add Tom Poti who is battling a groin pull problem and Backstrom had a fractured thumb late in the season.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Capitals 3, Lightning 5 (Tampa wins 4-0)
Game Summary

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
And just like that the season ends for the Washington Capitals. It wasn't even a question whether the Caps could make a dramatic comeback. The Tampa Bay Lightning were just too good. The Caps showed signs of a comeback but again failed to score first. They would be swept in just four games by a score of 5-3.

Just like a broken record, game 4 was little to no different than the previous three. The Lightning got the early lead and although the Caps make an effort to tie up the game and play outside their comfort zone. Add a few break downs in special teams and an outstanding effort by the Lightning's role players, and the Caps make an unexpected quick exit from the playoffs.

Ryan Malone put the Bolts up early after Alex Ovechkin took a questionable charging call on a heavy hit. The Caps would answer with a power play goal of their own when Marco Sturm scored his first goal of the playoffs. They would survive the first period with the score tied 1-1. But Sean Bergenheim, the new Cap killer, scored a pair in the second period and the Lightning took their first two goal lead since netting an empty netter in game one.

Bruce Boudreau called a time out to settle his team down, and John Erskine scored his first goal of the playoffs on a sharp angle shot that fooled Dwayne Roloson. But early in the third period, Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on the power play to regain the two goal lead. Sturm took a goaltending interference penalty call, even though he never touched Roloson who embellished the non-contact. The Caps were unable to produce much in the way of offense after that as the Lightning shut down the neutral zone. Martin St. Louis put the icing on the cake scoring to make it 5-2.

John Carlson scored late to make it 5-3, but the damage was done. What was left was the handshakes and quick exit for a top seeded team defeated in four games. The Lightning did it with some key role players scoring some big goals.

Michal Neuvirth played as well as can be expected. I don't think he played any better or worse than his counter part Roloson. While he was screened by his own man Carlson on the Bergeron goal, Neuvirth did come up with some big saves through out the series. He had a few big saves in game four as well, but it was the team in front of him that let him down.

The Caps now have more questions than answers. While it hasn't been the best season for them, they were able to gain top seed in the east only to be ousted by a division rival they had beaten 5 times in six regular season games. It is an off season that has come to soon for a team that has set the bar too high apparently. Now it's a decision to find players, personnel or both to make changes too.

Caps notes:
  • Mike Green was a scratch in game four after sustaining an injury in game three. Sean Collins replaced him in his first NHL post season appearance. 
  • The Lightning are on a roll, winning seven straight in these playoffs. But the Lightning have done this to the Capitals before. They won against the 2003 Capitals with Olie Kolzig in net and some loser named Jaromir Jagr four games to two. That would eight straight post season wins for Tampa against the Caps.
  • This marks the fourth straight exit in the post season for the Washington Capitals. All three in differing fashions. An editor's note: The New York Islanders lost four consecutive times in the conference finals before they won four straight Stanley Cups. Silver lining. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Capital Collapse

Capitals 3, Lightning 4 (Tampa leads 3-0)
Game Summary

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals looked at game three as a must win game to stay in the series. But their first power play goal did not help. Their first lead in the series did not help. A lead going into the third period once was chalked up as a win, but that did not help. Instead the Capitals have a mental brain cramp in the third period and the Bolts score :24 seconds apart to put the visiting team on the brink winning 4-3.

The Capitals do not seem to be playing the same inspiring style of playoff hockey that did away with the New York Rangers in five games. Perhaps their luck has run out. It is the little things they do not seem to be doing that is so important in post season play. They are losing battles along the boards, not passing crisply or quickly and failing to win battles along the boards and in front of the net. They are not going to the net, they are not grinding it out and they are making poor decisions with the puck.

If Michal Neuvirth is on any other team, he would be outstanding. The saves the Caps' goaltender made should have been inspiring even in the waning moments of the game when the Caps were trying to get the game back to even. I am sure he would like back a few shots, like Steven Stamkos shot form the high slot, he seemed to far back in his net. But for the most part, it was the team in front of him that let him down.

Again the Capitals were given some golden opportunities on the power play. While they scored on a 5 on 3 power play, they were zero for four on the rest of the night. Even taking away Mike Knuble's first period goal when a mental breakdown and six skaters were on the ice. It would have been the Capitals first period one goal and first goal in the game in this series.

The Capitals are lacking some secondary scoring. After a brilliant first game and nearly scoring several times in game one, Alex Semin has all but disappeared from the post season. Out side of a good shot or two, he has become the biggest non-factor for the Capitals. They also have not seen any consistent offense from  outside the top line.

Mike Knuble scored first for the Caps in the second period to tie the game up and one. They would take a 2-1 lead on John Carlson's heavy slap shot. It would be the Capitals first lead of the series. It would not last long as Vincent Lecavalier, a thorn in the side of the Caps this post season, tied it back up about five minutes later in the second.

But the Bolts got into some penalty trouble and the Caps score their first power play goal of the series on a 5 on 3 opportunity and go up 3-2.

The third period doomed the Caps when Mike Green did not return. It shuffled up the defensive pairs and some miscommunication between Scott Hannan and John Erskine allowing an open shot for Stamkos in the slot that would beat Neuvirth. Then the Caps played poorly following the goal, not taking care of Ryan Malone in front of the Caps net and a centering pass bounced off him and into the net making the collapse of the Capitals in game three complete.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have not won anything yet, it is still a seven game series. The Caps will have to drum something up in less than 24 hours if they have any chance of coming back in this season. But the odds are against the Caps, and there are more questions than answers after would could be a season that would see the mighty Caps swept in four games.

Caps notes:
  • Matt Hendricks was a healthy scratch for a second game in row. 
  • Brooks Laich, Alex Semin and Marcus Johansson were a -2 in this game. They combined for one shot in game 3.
  • In franchise history, the Capitals have never come back from being down 3-0 in a playoff series.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lightning Strikes Twice

Capitals 2, Lightning 3 OT (Tampa leads 2-0)
Game Summary

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals just kissed their home ice advantage good bye. Again the Caps could not come up with the first goal and found them selves trailing or tied in this series thus far. Vincent Lecavalier would be the hero scoring the early first period goal on the power play then ending the game just over six minutes into overtime. The Caps are left scratching their heads and looking to find a way to win on the road down two games to none after this loss 3-2.