Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Home Opener A Dud

Capitals 2, Jets 4
Game Summary - Event Summary

NHL finally has returned to Washington DC's Chinatown. It is too bad the Capitals did not show up for the occasion. The growing pains of a new system seams to much to handle for the Capitals and the shortened season is making the urgency to correct mistakes has upped to critical. Caps drop their home opener and have yet to win a game to the Winnipeg Jets 4-2.

Matt Hendricks finished off a brilliant tic-tac-oops play. Alex Ovechkin found Nick Backstrom who quick passed it to a waiting Hendricks in front of the net. The pass from Backstrom hit Hendricks in the skate then off what looked like his shin and stick to plop in behind Ondrej Pavelec. It gave the Caps the early lead and a good start. Troy Brouwer got on the scoresheet late as the Jets took a late penalty. The power play finally nets a point for the Capitals, but too little too late.

Winnipeg took advantage of two early power play goals, coupled with a few lucky bounces and scored 4 straight goals to put the Caps on ice. What ever fight was left in the Capitals left with the early sold out crowd that looked for exits half way through the third period. There was no sustained attack by the Capitals whether it was power play or 5 on 5, it was a team just standing around.

The Capitals were thoroughly man-handled in the second period giving up a pair of goals on twenty shots by the Jets. In fact through the first two periods, the Capitals were out shot 33-17. Winnipeg peppered shots on Holtby and the lucky bounces went their way as they took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission.  

If you are looking for some positives, look no further than Hendricks. He scored the first goal of the game, then as the team deteriorated he picks a fight with Jim Slater at the end of the second period and danced with Chris Thorburn in the third period. Hendy has been so far the bright spot for the Caps in these last two games. His hard work ethic and ability to be a spark offensively or defensively has been a plus.  

The Capitals power play certainly needs some more work. While it showed signs of promise tonight, the overall effect is not one of pressure or gaining momentum. It more played out as a measured attempt at a system newly taught. The Caps are certainly feeling every bump in the road as they assimilate to this new season.

Oh that penalty kill came back to haunt the Capitals again. The Jets were right off the bat 2 for 2 in their power plays in the first period. It forced the Caps to play a more conservative brand of hockey for fear of getting penalized. The Jets from there controlled the pace and the physicality that the Caps just could not match as the game wore on.

Braden Holtby did his part. Often left in the cold by his "stand around and watch" defense, Holtby did make a few great saves that later translated to opportunities on the other end. But the Caps just couldn't play cohesively enough in front of him. Unlucky bounces and some sloppy defense made it another rough night for the Capitals net minder. 

Just as in the Tampa game, the Capitals did not look very sharp. Miscommunication, bad passes and sloppy zone play came to haunt them. And instead of seeing any kind of fight from the boys in red, there was a slow passiveness that was uncharacteristic of the team's past. They lost puck battles on the boards, made simple mistakes, were caught standing around and were beaten to loose pucks. In time these things can be tightened up, tweaked and revamped. But time is a luxury the Caps can not afford. They now have let four points go in their division to their rivals. 

Is there time to right the ship, of course. But the way this team is playing, the short season might be a mercy blessing in disguise.

Caps Notes:
  • Brooks Laich may return to practice with the team as early as tomorrow. But the coaching staff doesn't want to rush the injured forward back into the line up. Laich injured his groin playing overseas.
  • Mike Ribeiro was the recipient of a couple of missed high sticking calls off face offs and on the PK. Ribeiro kept on the officials until he was finally penalized a two minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct. Like lemon juice in a paper cut.
  • Head coach Adam Oates blamed the lack of energy from poor conditioning. "They didn't have much in the tank." I see sweating to the oldies in the Caps near future.

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