Washington Capitals Severely Outplayed by Chicago Blackhawks in Its Playoff Push

Joe HeidkampContributor IMarch 18, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 22:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on January 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals are currently in 8th place in the Eastern Conference and fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.  You wouldn't know that by the poor effort they showed tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. 

The Capitals are battling for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres, who are currently tied with 76 points and just two points behind Washington.  With only three weeks left in the season there is a lot of scoreboard watching, and every game becomes critical no matter who your opponent is.  It seemed that the Capitals were uninformed of that tonight.

Chicago dominated the Capitals in the first period, getting in behind the stagnant Washington defense and putting two goals behind Michal Neuvirth.  The Capitals didn't have a shot on goal in the first sixteen minutes of play and were outshot 12-3 in the first period.

Washington was able to score two goals in the second. Mike Knuble capitalized on a turnover and Alex Ovechkin scoring on a beautiful individual play.  It was much of the same, though, for the Capitals, as they gave up two more goals due to lack of effort.  Washington did make a late push in the third period and manage to get some offensive zone time, but it was too little, too late. 

Turnovers were a big factor for the Capitals tonight, and it seemed like every time they entered the offensive zone they were one-and-done.  They didn't force any second chance opportunities and weren't moving their feet.

The defensive effort by Washington was absolutely horrendous tonight, and to boot, they spent most of the night in their defensive end. 

All in all, the Capitals didn't play to half their potential tonight.  The effort and heart just wasn't present.

They say that a team takes on the identity of it's leaders.  If that's truly the case, the Capitals better hope they get Nicklas Backstrom back soon, though by then the playoffs the Caps may be out of the picture completely.