Poor Start Dooms Caps Again

December 26, 2011 | Ed Frankovic

If you don’t come out ready to play in pro sports, you will likely lose, and often times badly.

On Monday night in Buffalo the Washington Capitals simply weren’t ready to play. Roman Hamrlik put a puck over the glass on his backhand just nine seconds in to the contest and 42 ticks later the Sabres scored. Buffalo would tally three more times in the first 15 minutes to put the Caps behind the eight ball big time and Washington would eventually fall 4-2. It was a bad start after the team looked to have found some momentum when they rallied from a three goal hole on Friday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils.

The poor road beginnings have to be a bit of a concern, granted today’s contest was played under unique circumstances. Because of the holiday break the Caps had to fly in to Buffalo this morning which disrupts the normal game day process for Washington. The team looked slow in the opening frame and Michal Neuvirth looked nothing like the netminder who was playing so solidly under Dale Hunter until this one. #30 would give up three goals on six shots and he could take a lot of blame on the second and third tallies. Tomas Vokoun then came on and promptly yielded a power play goal but after that he played super (16 saves) and gave Washington a chance to hang around.

The Caps would get a late second period tally from Matt Hendricks and a third period power play goal from Alexander Ovechkin, but it was too little too late. The game was lost in the first period. Washington didn’t put bodies on Sabres in their own zone and they did a poor job at blocking shots. In fact, the Caps only blocked eight shots all game. Blame the odd travel day, blame the penalties, blame the goaltending, blame the referees (who were awful all game), but it doesn’t matter. The Capitals weren’t ready from the opening puck drop and that led to a bad loss.

They need to get tougher mentally and physically, because at times they are too easy a team to play against.

Coach Hunter can’t be happy about that, he was a guy who brought it every shift, and right now his team is having a hard time doing that early in games on the road.

Notes: Mathieu Perreault assisted on the Hendricks tally but he took his own stick to the upper body in the 3rd period and went to the hospital post game to get checked out (h/t @VogsCaps)…the Sabres won the faceoff battle handily, 31-22. Their 2nd goal came off a draw. Karl Alzner lost the puck and Neuvirth fanned on Matt Ellis’ backhander…the Caps had 26 hits but only two of them came from defensemen (Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson)…the Caps next game is against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center at 730 pm.