(Photo credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
One of the defining moments of HBO’s “24/7” miniseries for the Washington Capitals was their 7-0 shellacking from the New York Rangers. The sense of urgency during what would become an eight-game losing streak was palpable even through our television sets. Whatever message was delivered on that night in mid-December did not stick as the Caps once again faced the Rangers’ wrath in a 6-0 loss, their ninth shutout loss of the season. Washington finished the season series with New York with a 1-2-1 record and were outscored 18-6 in the process. Henrik Lundqvist earned his NHL-best eighth shutout of the season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since New York is known for its bagels.
- The only player who showed up to play the entire game was Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin had eight shots, six hits, made some classic moves through defenders and did his best to spark the offense. Unfortunately, hockey involves more than one player. As the captain, Ovechkin should lead by example and he did Friday. The problem was was that no one seemed to take heed.
- Both the Caps and Mike Green played at Verizon Center for the first since February 12, but Green’s return was short-lived. He only made it to 2:25 of ice time before being drilled by Derek Stepan in the head. Green would slowly get to his feet before returning to the locker room for good. Bruce Boudreau said after the press conference that Green is day-to-day and will not travel with the team to Long Island as a precautionary measure. Stepan’s hit could be worthy of a suspension, but that’s besides the point. As much heat as Green takes for his style of play, his presence is definitely missed when he’s not on the ice. Perhaps Green should sit for most of the remainder of the regular season to heal up for the playoffs. If he shows up for them, of course.
- While on the topic of defense, it was awful tonight. Only one defenseman finished without a minus (Happy birthday, Jeff Schultz). There were goals where the defense looked completely lost and there were goals were they were in place, but couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything to stop the puck. Sloppy is an understatement.
- The power play continues to come up empty (0-5), but even the usually-potent penalty kill failed to deliver Friday (2-4). It was the first time since January 11 that the Caps have given up more than one PP goal in a game. However, the PK unit has given up six PPGs in the past six games, dropping them from second in the NHL to fifth in penalty killing percentage.
- Boudreau said in his postgame press conference that the Caps deserved to be booed by those in attendance because Friday’s loss was the “worst home loss that [he’s] been associated with” in years. Verizon Center has lost its luster. Consider this: the Caps have 15 total losses at home this season. They had 11 all of last season and 12 two seasons ago. Also, keep in mind that Friday’s loss came from the hands of a team that had only three regulation wins in their last 20 trips to Verizon Center. With nine home games left, the Caps need to provide energy to their faithful red rockers because empty seats and mass exoduses don’t make for a good playoff atmosphere. As Boudreau said. the fans deserve better.
- One of the hot topics in the press box tonight was the Scott Hannan for Tomas Fleischmann trade. The Capitals have struggled as a team since adding Hannan, but his play has been just fine. Some felt the absence of Fleischmann outweighed the benefits of having Hannan present and that makes sense as the Caps offensive lineup is underachieving in some places and simply undermanned in others. They need a forward or maybe two because Eric Fehr won’t be the X-factor upon his return.
This Empire State of mind will have to stick around for a few more days as the Caps head to Long Island to take on the Islanders Saturday before returning home to face them again Tuesday. The Islanders are planning a “White Out” for Saturday’s game, so let’s hope the Caps don’t get whitewashed again. That begs the question. If the Capitals lose on Long Island and no one is there to see it, does it count in the standings?