Oh, it's just another stinker from the Washington Capitals against a Southeast opponent at home when they are trying to stake their claim to the division lead.
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Six days after allowing Atlanta to skate away with two points at the Verizon Center, the Capitals let the Hurricanes regain control of the division in a game eerily similar to that Thrashers loss. The Capitals handily outshot their rival in each contest, combining for a 70-36 edge. Yet, the Capitals were outscored 4-1. Youch! This sets me up for yet another save percentage comparison: 88.9% for the Caps, 98.6% for the other guys.
Without question, the most critical problem for Washington has been their power play. Now six games without an extra-man tally, the Capitals were an abysmal 0 for 7 against the league's WORST penalty killing unit. The most sickening stat of all? The Capitals were nearly outshot when up a man (including a prolonged two man advantage during which they almost gave up another goal.) On the seven power plays, the Caps had a frighteningly slim edge in shots, 8-6. Again, this was against the NHL's worst penalty killing unit! (Sorry, but it bears repeating.)
Washington could not take advantage of Carolina's Ray Whitney who was doing his best Alexander Semin impersonation. The veteran, who had only six minor penalties all season (53 games,) was sent to the sin bin four times -- each one a Semin-like stick foul. Two hooks, a slash, and a trip. The quiet Russian, however, was not to be outdone.
Can someone please explain what the heck is Semin's deal? He had more moves than a Chubby Checker album (highlighted by as pretty a spin-o-rama as you'll ever see) but he does the stupidest things. His goal was a wondrous blend of skill, finesse, and grit. But why in the world would he blatantly slash the back of a Hurricane defenseman's legs with only seconds remaining and trying to score the tying goal? That kind of bush league play reminds me of the dumb stuff I used to do playing goal in youth hockey. (My apologies to all those whose calves I bruised.)
The game had the feel of a playoff matchup. Unfortunately, the result did too. The Southeast Division, home to the league's worst goaltending, will be gearing up for the Capitals more than just about any team they will face the remainder of the season. Though the Caps have played well the last two outings, that aforementioned terrible goaltending has had the Capitals number. Just how bad is the goaltending you ask? Of the six NHL teams that have allowed the most goals this season, four reside in the Southeast. (Atlanta - 185, Tampa Bay - 183, Carolina - 179, Washington - 174)
The Capitals are going to have to figure out how to score against these otherwise beatable goaltenders. Four of their next six games are against Southeast foes, as are 12 of the 26 games that remain.
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