At first glance, last night's Washington Capitals game doesn't look that bad. All things considered (especially the absence of Alex Ovechkin), a 4-3 loss in overtime isn't a shut-out, and it's far from pathetic.
But for a team that has broken records consistently throughout the season, last night's loss means a lot more.
If you look at the stats from last night's game, the teams are almost even in terms of shots on goal, with 28 for the Caps and 29 for the Hurricanes. The goalies are exactly even in terms of saves, with 25 apiece.
Why is Southeast leader Washington playing at the same level as the last place team in the division?
Of course, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that the Hurricanes simply showed up to play. They're a perfectly good team, and as in all sports matches: anything can happen.
But last night the Caps just didn't show up to play. Even coach Bruce Boudreau noted some defensive errors , and said that the Caps simply allowed the Hurricanes too many chances.
As a fan, I'm worried.
The Caps need to go back to how they were playing at the beginning of the season, charging their opponents and wrenching games out of their hands. Last night, I saw a team without a plan and without the drive.
Admittedly, there were some good moments. I saw a few saves reminiscent of the pre-injury Varlamov as well as an inspired last-minute goal from Eric Fehr with only 9.5 seconds left.
However, those moments were merely moments in a game marked by sloppy defense and missed opportunities. Hopefully the Caps are just taking a (much deserved) break, but they need to gear up for the playoffs.