By Reed S. Albers
What more can you say about a 4-2 blowout loss on the road against an opponent of equal skill?
You could mention that the game was lost in the first period when Jason Pominville, Matt Ellis, Christian Ehrhoff and Brayden McNabb gave the Buffalo Sabres a commanding 4-0 lead in just 20 minutes.
You could bring up that once again, the goaltending was below average – actually, remedial at best – and it wasn’t until Tomas Vokoun brought stability to the net after relieving starter Michal Neuvirth in the first period.
Neuvy finished the game with a .500 save percentage which qualifies him for an F on every grading scale in the world. However, Vokoun finished with 16 saves on 17 shots. If you were worried you weren’t talking about goalie controversies enough, you should have plenty of material for the next few days.
As it has been in past games, the Capitals stumbled out of the gate and allowed the opposition to control the game, but let’s give the team a bit of slack here. I suppose it’s hard to set a tone when your eldest player, Roman Hamrlik, sends a puck over the glass for a delay of game call just nine seconds into the game.
There was more. So much more, but it wasn’t ALL bad.
There was an Alex Ovechkin power play goal in the third period that gave birth to faint comeback hopes. If you’re expecting the next sentence to be a variation of “this goal will get him going again!”, you’ll be disappointed. Sure, it’s an Ovechkin goal, but it’s a goal in a trash loss so it’s not something I’d invest too much in.
Washington also wasn’t outshot by a wide margin. Even in the dreaded first period, the Caps led in shots nine to eight, so there’s that. The Caps finished trailing 23-22, but you could argue that the quality of shots matters here. Buffalo made theirs count, while Washington simply couldn’t beat Ryan Miller as frequently as the Sabres tormented Neuvirth.
The Sabres also got 60 quality minutes out of Miller. The Caps played behind just 47 good minutes of goaltending. It’s awfully hard to win, when for 13 minutes you might as well have an empty net.
The power play went one for four, which on a night like this might not seem like much, but it’s par for the course. The fact the Caps even managed a power play goal is a minor, although meaningless, victory.
Buffalo has become a nightmare town for the Capitals. The team simply doesn’t play well at HSBC Arena for whatever reason and I’m sure it’s not because of the arena.
The common thing to say here is that the Caps will just need to forget this one. Even the NHL.com headline said “one to four-get” (Get it, FOUR-get?) and it’d be right to do just that, but at some point this season needs to turn around.
If it wasn’t Bruce Boudreau’s firing, or a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, then maybe it will finally click after this 4-2 stinker, but that’s being hopeful.
I guess the only thing we can really say about that game is….worst Boxing Day ever.