The Washington Capitals are beginning to become more than predictable and frustrating to watch. They are beginning to look and sound like a hockey team in dissension. A team that may be quitting at times and one that is defiantly not playing for their head coach, at least when they have the puck.
If Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and general manager George McPhee honestly believe that the Capitals are viable Stanley Cup contenders then Leonsis should be forced to sell and McPhee dropped off somewhere in the backwoods of a neighboring Virginia state park.
This broken record cannot be fixed until changes are made behind the bench and in the locker room.
The goal pure and simple this year was to win a Stanley Cup and right now the Washington Capitals may not even make the playoffs if they do not turn this style of play around.
The Caps managed once again to steal a point and have somehow, with an offense like they have right now, earned a point in 16 of their last 20 games.
The numbers after last night's game are now starting to get downright depressing. Since Dec. 1 the Caps have scored three or more goals just four times and have not scored two power plays in a game since a 6-0 win over Tampa Bay the day after Thanksgiving.
This is a tale of two very different seasons. Last night was game No. 52 for the Capitals. In the first 26 games this season the Capitals scored 88 goals and in the last 26 games just 52. That’s a 41 percent drop-off in just 26 games.
The power play stinks and although the Capitals managed a power-play goal in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Canadiens the bigger picture says IT STINKS. After adding their chances last night they managed to run their streak to an anemic 10-for-91 or a paltry 10.9 percent.
The defense continued to shine allowing just two goals. The Capitals defense has not allowed more than two goals in regulation for six straight games and since they surrendered seven goals to the New York Rangers back on Dec. 12 have given up exactly two goals per game.
The penalty kill was magnificent again last night as they killed off all six Canadiens extra-man advantages. The Capitals have now killed off 24 straight shorthanded situations.
Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov along with the defense continued to carry Ovechkin, Backstrom and company, earning the team yet another point. Varlamov made 36 saves as the Capitals failed to register 30 shots on goals again in being out-shot at home 38-29.
Pressure and tensions are starting to mount in the locker room and even the opposition is noticing that the Caps are not playing with any offensive intensity. Following last night's win, Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Plekeanec had this to say: “I felt like they didn’t really pressure us as much...I didn’t feel that offensive kind of pressure they had last year or in other games against them.”
The frustrating part is if you read or listen to the quotes coming from the locker room you can see and almost feel dissension starting to set in. Here are a few examples.
"It's definitely disappointing," Scott Hannan said. "You think you come out in one and you do the things that you need to win. Then we took some penalties, got kind of behind and sat back and started to make plays that didn't get us there. It kind of turned the momentum a bit and they came at us. Give them credit, they came back and they played the way they needed to, but I think we gave them a lot of their chances."
What the hell did Scott Hannan just say? It gets better Caps fans. Check out this beauty from captain Alex Ovechkin:
“At 2-0 they were kind of sleepy. Perreault scored on his first shot of the game and we used the power play [to score another goal]. After that, we just stopped playing our way. We took some bad penalties and we stopped playing after 2-0.”
Twice last night the Capitals knocked themselves off a power play by taking dumb penalties, playing undisciplined hockey. Of course, we should read one from the offensive star of the game Mathieu Perreault.
Perreault said, "I think we kind of sat back on our two-goal lead and we can't afford to do that...We need to keep going and keep pushing and it came up to bite us in the butt. At this time of the year, we can't afford to just be good for 20 minutes. It's got to be 60 minutes."
Reminds me of an old Motley Crue song titled "Same Ol' Situation."
The finger-pointing has also begun as well, sort of. Matt Hendricks had this to say when asked what the answer could be: "It's tough, but the answers are in this room and they aren't going to come from anywhere else...I think 100 percent commitment from everybody. I think at times we have it and at times we don't."
What good would any of these quotes be without one from the Caps' fearless leader? Who, in my opinion needs to start cleaning out his office.
Boudreau after the game said, "I don't think it's a letdown as much as mistakes...You make two critical mistakes at bad times—defenseman goes down the boards when there's no need to go down and we don't get it deep...We made two bad mistakes and it was in our net."
Really Bruce? Then how about fixing those mistakes. It would probably be a good idea to start with the offense and then move onto the power play. There seems to be a few mistakes being made there too and you can't keep saying "we ran into a hot goaltender tonight."
Newsflash Coach, they are all hot goaltenders when the Washington Capitals are facing them these days. It's the same M.O. every night—one good period and excuses at the end of the night as to why they could not score.
Looking for more offensive excuses, Boudreau blamed the loss of Semin and Fehr for not being able to get the extra goals lately.
“Hopefully when we get Semin back and Fehr back and we get more offensive guys back in the lineup, those 2-2 games turn into 3-2 and 4-2, us giving those guys the chances in front of the net. Our guys are trying their rear end off, but they’re hard-pressed to score some goals sometimes.”
Hey Coach, here is another newsflash, Alexander Semin had just four goals and six assist in the 19 games prior to being injured.
Calling out bad plays by your defense (who is carrying your team) when your forwards are afraid of crashing the net seems, well, idiotic but that is why you are losing this team if you have not lost them already.
Clearly the sign of a man that is in offensive drought denial. Three goals in regulation or just one more after the first 20 minutes and two mistakes by your defense, which again, has been carrying your team, is hardly worth mentioning. Even if a goal resulted.
The "Boudreau Must Go" slideshow presentation article will be right here on the Bleacher Report in about two hours.
The Caps are in trouble, big trouble and now trail the Tampa Bay Lightning by five points. By the way, Caps fans, those Lightning shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 last night and have won six games in a row.
The Caps' next opponent, you guessed it, the Tampa Bay Lightning. This could be ugly Friday night on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
The Caps have yet to score a goal against the Lightning’s new goalie, Dwayne Roloson. If you think this offense has what it takes to go into Tampa on Friday night and score the four or five goals it will take to beat Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and company, you're kidding yourself.
A smart Capitals fan who frequents the Bleacher Report (Chris Dally) replied in a comment and summed it up perfectly when he wrote, "When the Capitals score it seems like they have achieved the most difficult feat, when the opposition scores it seems so easy."
I could not have said it better myself, for a team that is in more trouble than we Capitals fans would probably care to admit.