From a pretty good high...and back to earth again. If this team's players were all in a spelling bee and the word "consistency" came up, they would ALL get it wrong. Forget about the fact that it was the second game on the second night of a road trip. The Bruce doesn't buy that excuse and neither do I. The Swordmaiden, Katie Carrera, seemed to think that was the reason for the loss according to the article in the rag, er, Washington Post, but I don't share that line of thinking. It's too easy an excuse. A good team simply owns up when they don't play well.
What blew me away was when I read the breakdown at Japers. They pointed out that nobody outside the top line so much as fired a shot on goal until the third period. You don't win games if you only bring a six shooter when your opponent has a machine gun. Yes I know they outshot them on paper--who cares? Twenty-two shots doesn't cut it, not against any goalie worthy of his waffle-board. Matthieu Perreault was the one who got that shot, and I'll even take him to task--this is the kind of game where he needed to show that spark that gets teams going and it just wasn't there.
Special teams didn't help--the power play was anemic, although it made some noise with some great chances. More on this later. The penalty kill was decent, except when they gave up the eventual game winning goal.
Backstrom v. Backstrom
Perhaps the greatest chance was in the second period when the Caps had one of their two power plays. They were cycling the puck fairly well when Nicklas Backstrom lined up for a one-timer against Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom seemed to have the shot ready to go but Backstrom had the angle. All this happened in the blink of an eye, but you could see it all play out as Backstrom tried to put it by Backstrom. Backstrom could have possibly tried a backhand shot or perhaps a backdoor play on Backstrom, but instead opted for the backup plan and just shot up high glove side. Backstrom, however was ready for the shot and only needed to back up a foot as he reached back and got it with the glove hand. All those confused? Yeah me too...and I'm writing this thing.
But seriously Niklas Backstrom the goalie had a terrific game in net and should be credited for his efforts. By the same token, however, you can't make the excuse of a hot goalie because you should always make the most of your chances. Had the Caps done so, the score just might have been different because they have a hot goalie of their own. Michal Neuvirth has proven himself to be the best player on the ice from game to game. If only the rest of the team could find a way to produce like that.
I'm not happy with the loss, but I would be more okay with it if my team had put out a better effort. I didn't see that for pretty much the whole game. There's one game left on this road trip and it's up against an equally challenging Calgary Flames team. Mike Green will be in front of his hometown crowd and Ovechkin is officially off Der Schnide with his late-game tally. Need the points boys, it will make life in April a little easier.