Washington Capitals Quit in Another Shutout Loss to New York Rangers

Alan ZlotorzynskiCorrespondent IIIFebruary 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 25:  Members of the New York Rangers celebrate scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on February 25, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals' all-or-nothing season continued on Friday night, as the nothing side of the equation reared its ugly head once again. For the ninth time in the past 41 games, the Washington Capitals failed to score a goal.

The New York Rangers beat Washington 6-0, and made it look easy in the process. So easy that you could even say the Capitals quit playing in this game. I know, I know, the Q word is as bad a word as you can use to describe a team’s performance, but the stats indicate that quit is exactly what Washington did.

Need more proof? The Rangers' sixth goal with 33 seconds remaining in the game should remove all doubt.The Caps defenders parted like the Red Sea in allowing the Rangers Brian Boyle to score his 20th goal of the year.

Capitals starting goalie Michael Neuvirth never really had a chance to get comfortable in the game. He had no support in front of him in allowing six goals on 28 Ranger shots.

Many Caps excuse-makers will point to Mike Green's injury as the downfall of the evening. That is what Caps announcers Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin did. Laughlin said, "The hit on Green was without a doubt the turning point in the game.” I can see that, considering that Mike Green never gets hurt. Washington can always count on his toughness, never having to play without him.

I am not down on Green. I know he took a puck to the head a few Sundays ago.

But come on already. These are big games, and if Mike Green could not take a shot like the one that caused him to leave the game, then what the hell is he doing playing in the first place?

It was a bad decision by the coaching staff. On top of the head injury, Green was also suffering from the flu. Dress a defenseman you know you can count on for 60 minutes—not Mike Green.

Comcast Sports Net out of Washington, D.C., reported that Green is day-to-day.

The Caps simply got their collective asses handed to them tonight. This is not the kind of effort that a Caps fan likes to see in late February. The Rangers, depending on what happens the rest of the season, could be a potential first-round opponent for Washington. My goodness, I hope not.

The blueshirts own hockey’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season. The Rangers' win tonight was their third in a row against Washington. To throw a little salt in the wound, the combined score in those three Ranger wins was 15-1.

Many blogs and even some major newspapers are saying the Caps are in danger of not having home ice in the playoffs this year. WHAT? Queue Jim Mora Sr's voice, HOME ICE—HOME ICE? Now queue Jack Nicholson's voice: "YOU CAN'T HANDLE HOME ICE.”

On the serious side, the Caps have won just three of their past 10 and five of their last 19 games at the big phone booth in Chinatown. With their luck in the playoffs, I question whether they could win three out of seven in a nine-day stretch come late April.

Be sure to check your milk cartons in the morning for the Caps' power play, because it is more than missing.

In fact, be sure to glance at billboards along the interstate.

The billboard may read like this: "Missing since spring 2010: the Washington Capitals' power play. According to experts, it was last seen right before the start of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Montreal Canadians have been interviewed, but extradition from Canada when it comes to matters of hockey is nearly impossible. Currently there is not much information to pass along. With just 35 goals in 213 chances this season, it may never be found."

When last seen before disappearing last season, it was ranked No. 1 in all of the NHL

The Caps had five extra-man advantages against the Rangers and never got close to scoring a goal. Even more distressing: the Rangers were without several big components of their penalty kill and Washington still looked lost with the extra man.

The Rangers were without defenseman Marc Staal (knee injury), sniper Marian Gaborik, forwards Alexander Frolov and Chris Drury, all of whom were out after having undergone knee surgery.

Washington is simply allowing too much ice time to players who are not getting it done with the extra man. Alexander Semin had three PP shifts with more than 90 seconds of power play time on each shift. The Caps are still trying to find Ovechkin every chance they get, forcing the puck to him in clogged passing lanes.  

Yes, Rangers Goalie Henrik Lindqvist was very good tonight, but he was not spectacular. In stopping all 35 Washington shots, Lundqvist became the third goalie this season to post back-to back shut outs against the Caps. Lindqvist was in goal against the Caps back in December when New York clobbered Washington 7-0, but not for the 2-1 win in late January.

Lundqvist joins Antti Niemi of the Sharks and Dwayne Roloson of the Lightning as the goalies that have pulled the back-to back shutout feat against the Caps this season.

Washington made the Rangers Erik Christensen look like Wayne Gretzky in the game. Christensen had just six goals and 14 points, and had not scored a regulation goal since Dec. 15—against, you guessed it, the Capitals.

Christensen scored two goals and added two helpers in the game for a career high four-point night. 

Christensen gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead with 5:17 left in the first period off a nice pass from Michael Sauer, scoring between two Capitals defenders. His second goal, on the power play with an assist from Ryan Callahan, made it 3-0 at 4:17 of the second period.

The last time the Capitals lost by six or more goals at home was in a 7-1 defeat to Toronto in Nov. 2006, and the last time the Capitals were shut out 6-0 at home was way back on March 10, 2004 by the Buffalo Sabres. The winning goalie for Buffalo that night was current Ranger back-up goalie, Martin Biron.

Alexander Ovechkin saw his four-game point streak end despite taking a team high eight shots, "Everybody feels embarrassed," Ovechkin said. "We didn't score. They scored six."

That about sums it all up, but what good would any Caps article be without a quote from head Coach Bruce Boudreau?

"I'm not happy. Our fans deserve better," Boudreau said. "We deserve to get booed. It's just not acceptable and it's embarrassing."

At least tomorrow’s game against New York’s other team, the Islanders, is in New York. The Caps are now 4-5-2 in the first game of back-to back games this season. Following the win over the Penguins Monday night the Caps ran their record to 4-5-1 in the second game.

With the uncertainty of Mike Green's health and the struggling Caps power play, Caps GM George McPhee may be spending a lot of time on the phones in the next 60 hours.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau claims the Feb-28 deadline is not on his mind. "You guys make more trades than we'll ever make," he told the media before the game...The Rangers captured the season series 3-1.