Bad Weekend for Caps
It was a rough weekend for the Washington Capitals as they managed to get only one point in two games over the weekend. The crushing blow was a 6-3 loss in Carolina on Saturday evening. The Caps came out with a lot of passion and fire against the Hurricanes but poor defensive play and goaltending was their downfall. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned in his interview with WNST’s Drew Forrester on Friday that he felt that the team was doing a lot better defensively of late so clearly this game was the wrong one to finally suffer a defensive meltdown. Overall the defensemen did a terrible job of coverage in front of goalie Olie Kolzig and that caused Kolzig to struggle with the first shot on several occasions and give up lots of juicy rebounds. Most of the Hurricanes goals were of the second chance variety in close.
On Sunday the Caps threw everything but the kitchen sink at the New Jersey Devils only to have the best goalie on the planet, Martin Brodeur, stone them allowing the Devils to prevail, 2-1, in overtime at the Verizon Center. Washington had 38 shots in the contest. Brodeur was outstanding yesterday including a game saving stop on Nicklas Backstrom’s shot late in the third period off of a beautiful feed by Alexander Ovechkin. This was a game that Washington dominated for the most part and the only goal they gave up in regulation was on a five-on-three power play (the result of two Caps high sticks).
Now the Caps are in some hot water trailing the Southeast division leading Hurricanes by five points with only two games in hand. The schedule does not get any easier this week as the Minnesota Wild, led by Marian Gaborik and Brian Rolston, come in on Tuesday and then on Friday the Caps travel to New Jersey to play the hottest team in the league once again. Saturday night the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town for a Hockey Night in Canada contest.
Alexander Semin (seven goals, three assists in last 10 games) continues to be the only forward outside of Ovechkin (four assists over the weekend but now goal-less in his last five contests) and Backstrom who can generate consistent scoring chances lately. Viktor Kozlov, who had heated up for about a dozen game stretch after the season’s midpoint, has returned to his “free agent bust” form netting only four points in his last eleven games. Clearly if the Caps are going to make any run at the playoffs the rest of the way GM George McPhee needs to upgrade his defense at the trade deadline on Tuesday and he also needs to add a forward or two to help score some goals. If the Caps don’t make any deals on Tuesday then it is very likely that they will be watching the post-season once again because I’m not sure what else Boudreau can get out of this team as it stands right now.