The start of the Washington Capitals 2010-11 season began with a thud on Friday night as the Caps sleep-walked through a 4-2 loss in Atlanta to the Thrashers, a team they beat all six times last year. Michal Neuvirth, who stopped 27 shots, was about the only bright spot for Washington and it was his stellar play in net that kept this from being a blowout.
This game had a bizarre and scary opening sequence as Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec motioned with his left glove to the bench during a stoppage in play and then collapsed to the ice. Pavelec was carted off on a stretcher and a 20+ minute delay ensued and the latest news out of Hotlanta is the goalie regained consciousness and his vital signs are normal. He will be kept in the hospital overnight.
Here are the highlights (lowlights??!!) and analysis on an awful performance by the Caps:
- Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau should start the post game by checking the vital signs of his team because it was hard to find a pulse from pretty much anyone on his entire club. I cannot name one Washington Capitals skater who had a good game on Friday. Only Neuvirth in net was ready for this tilt against a team that had lost eight straight to the Caps.
- It was a lazy and practically brainless effort by the boys from DC. They routinely turned the puck over or missed assignments leading to Atlanta goals and scoring chances. The first Thrashers tally was off of a horrible giveaway by Tomas Fleischmann up the center of the ice, the second goal was the result of an Alexander Ovechkin giveaway on the left wing boards, the third was on a penalty shot by Evander Kane (2 goals) on a questionable call but that was set up by an Alexander Semin soft play in the defensive zone, and the fourth and final lamp lighter for Atlanta ping ponged by Neuvirth off of the leg of Karl Alzner. However, that doesn’t happen if Matt Hendricks stays with his man off of the defensive zone faceoff.
- Ovechkin had a nice assist on Mike Knuble’s goal in the 3rd period that cut the Thrashers lead to 3-2 and gave Washington some hope but overall he was just terrible in game one of 2010-11. He did not appear to be skating hard and lacked energy. When your team captain is doing that it is difficult to criticize the other guys on the ice for doing the same.
- Atlanta is clearly a better team than in 2009-10 and they have some new players and a new coach in Craig Ramsey. But let’s be serious, if the Caps put out a better effort and played smarter hockey there is no way the Thrashers can hang with them. The bottom line is Washington took a page out of a Dr. Seuss book on Friday night and the performance could be summed up with three words: Stink, Stank, Stunk.
Fortunately for the Caps they can get right back on the ice on Saturday night and turn things around quickly as they take on the New Jersey Devils at 7pm at the Verizon Center.
Notes: Brooks Laich had the first tally of the game for Washington on Chris Mason on a pretty passing play right after Pavelec left the ice…20 year old Marcus Johansson was 1-7 in faceoffs. He skated well but was easily pushed off the puck below the circles at both ends…Washington was 0 for 3 on the power play and it looked as bad as it performed in the playoffs last April.