As many of you know, I am not a fan of referees. I probably use the #badzebras hash tag more than anyone on twitter, heck some might even claim I invented it.
But watching the Capitals 3-2 loss to New Jersey tonight, you aren’t going to get me blaming the referees for yet another Washington loss.
Were some of the calls questionable in this one? Yeah, maybe so, but good teams and smart ones at that, don’t put themselves in the position this Caps team does repeatedly to give the zebras a chance to whistle them for infractions. Lack of talent combined with low hockey IQ led to the penalty parade that was the third period, one in which Washington was called for six infractions and resulted in two lengthy 5 on 3 Devils power plays.
Simply put, you play like that and you deserve to lose.
Combine that with the fact that Washington was dominated at even strength all night, and it is amazing that the Caps even had a chance to win this one going into the final frame.
For that, everyone can once again thank Braden Holty, who was brilliant in net, especially in the first period when the Capitals were sleep walking.
The only other reason the Caps were winning after 40 minutes was their power play. They tallied twice on it despite giving up an inexcusable shorthanded goal to Patrick Elias. Washington went 2 for 4 on the night with the advantage but surrendered the shorty and they also gave up the game winner while shorthanded. So the special teams battle was even at two a piece.
Look no further than the tying goal for why the Capitals lost. Mike Ribeiro lost a key defensive zone draw and then he failed to cover Andrei Loktionov as the Devils center went to the net. The result was a lay up for the New Jersey forward on a Holtby rebound. Lazy hockey there, plain and simple.
I’ve chronicled all season the lack of talent on this Washington roster, especially up front. They could not afford to lose Brooks Laich and with Mike Green now out on the back end for the second straight game players on the downside of their careers, like Tom Poti, end up in the game. Poti was whistled for interference just before the game winner.
So the nightmare season continues for Washington as they drop to 5-10-1 and they remain in last place in the Eastern Conference.
Saturday at noon they get Martin Brodeur, Ilya Kovalchuk, and company again at the Verizon Center. The Devils are a talented team that plays smart. Right now the Caps are nearly the complete opposite.
So blame the referees all you want for this loss, but if you peel back the onion and do the real analysis, you’ll soon find out the real reason you are crying.