That describes the performance by the Washington Capitals in tonight’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. From start to finish it was one of the worse performances of the season. I’ll even go as far as calling it one of the worst performances since Bruce Boudreau began his tenure in the District.
Facing an injury plagued Devils team without the likes of Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise, the Capitals brought nothing to the table from the start. The Devils quickly jumped on the Caps in the first period putting up three goals. Braden Holtby was given the start tonight after Michal Neuvirth pulled up lame during the morning skate. Neuvirth was projected to start in the net for the Caps. Due to the injury to Neuvirth, coupled with the rough outing Holtby had against Buffalo over the weekend, the Capitals recalled Semyon Varlamov who himself is recovering from injury. Unable to have his equipment shipped in on time, Holtby was given the nod. From the start it looked as if Holtby wasn’t focused and ready to play. He was consistently out of position and Devils players were able to go to the table for second helpings all night long. Holtby’s rebound control was nothing to be proud of.
Not all the blame belongs on Holtby’s shoulders though. The Capitals were horrible defensively. Tyler Sloan showed us again why he is fringe NHLer. Mike Green had a noodle for a hockey stick all night long. In addition, Green couldn’t figure out the edge on his skates and took a tumble on multiple occasions. To make matters worse, Sloan left the game after the first period. Although I know some who would say that’s actually a good thing. This left the Capitals with just five defenseman for the rest of the game. Tom Poti remains injured and cannot return to the lineup soon enough.
The Capitals had nothing offensively whatsoever. Alex Ovechkin now has just 2 goals in his last 10 games and is pointless his last five games. Yes, we have grown accustomed to the yearly slump Ovechkin has, so I’m not worried yet. The bottom line is teams have done a great job with checking Ovechkin. He has had no room in the neutral zone to gain speed into the offensive zone. The only way to combat this is to go to the dirty areas and get the ugly goals. I thought he did a better job of this in tonight’s game, but all in all he has been a perimeter player over the last few games.
The power play has been a bright spot over the last few weeks. After a hideous beginning to the season on the power play, the Capitals now find themselves with the 5th ranked power play unit. Tonight it was a no show. There was really no sustained time in the offensive zone. Bruce Boudreau had to be livid with no better evidence being a power play unit consisting of Eric Fehr, Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, John Carlson, and Mike Green. To nobody’s surprise, they didn’t score.
The Capitals have now lost three games in a row and have been shut-out twice in their last three games. It took a monumental third period comeback against the Flyers to salvage a point last Saturday. The Capitals will head south to Raleigh where they will face a division foe in the Hurricanes. The Caps and Hurricanes almost always battle to a close outcome. I expect nothing but the same. Best thing coming for the Capitals is a day off tomorrow in Raleigh where they will have a practice session to iron out the team’s bad habits and work on turning this around.
We are just a quarter of the way through the season. There is nothing to be worried about as of yet, but habits can be tough to break if the Capitals aren’t careful. The last two playoff exists are case and point.
About the Author: Jeremy is a life time hockey fan currently living in Washington DC. Jeremy also runs a Capitals blog called The Nation's Capitals where he frequently posts blogs about the state of the Caps. His other interests include music and politics. Jeremy has a degree in Political Science. Being from DC, politics kind of comes with the territory.