The Capitals once again failed to pull out of their record losing streak tonight at Verizon Center, falling to the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in overtime. The Ducks, this season, have been one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, and added themselves to the long list of mediocre teams that the Capitals have lost to this season.
The Capitals came out fast looking to avenge their shellacking at the hands of the Rangers on Sunday night, piling shots fast on Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. They were rewarded for their efforts with a Brooks Laich backhander from the slot that was all Nicklas Backstrom, who carried the puck all the way around the zone off the entry before dishing it to Laich. The Capitals continued to buzz the Anaheim cage for the remainder of the period, but were unable to dent Hiller again, including a Brooks Laich shot that sat on the goal line momentarily until Ryan Getzlaf swept it out. In the second, the Capitals were once again the better team, forcing Hiller to make several incredible saves, including one on Nicklas Backstrom during a fast break. Then Mike Knuble took a tripping penalty, and, predictably, the wheels came off. Again. Joffrey Lupul scored on a layup during the ensuing power play, and from then on, the Capitals looked deflated, fragile, and out of sync. They picked up their play towards the middle of the third period, and generated good pressure once more, but were stymied by Hiller continually to keep the score knotted at one. In overtime, the Capitals controlled play for the first three minutes or so but the Ducks managed to counterattack. With just under a minute remaining, Ryan Getzlaf walked out from the corner, totally demolishing John Carlson and keeping him off the puck, and snapped a quick shot past Semyon Varlamov on the short side to win the game, another one that Varly would probably like to have back. Sigh.
Oh, well. At least they got a point. Seriously, you have to take what you can get at this juncture. The Capitals are simply not playing well and it does not matter who the opponent is, their offense is not clicking and their defense and goaltending, right now, is not good enough to win games on their own.
Alex Ovechkin disappeared...again. The FORMER best player in the world has almost nothing to show for his recent games, including two goals in his last twelve, and is fast approaching a pace of less than a point per game. I'm starting to doubt that he is going to have a hot streak where he puts the team on his back...maybe it's just not to be for this year's version of the Capitals. The Winter Classic, at this rate, is going to be a bad day for Caps fan.
Semyon Varlamov was fighting the puck all night. His stat line might not look bad, good even, but he should have had the winning goal and did not look comfortable at all during the game. He's not the story, but him being more comfortable is definitely going to help the Capitals get out of their funk.
It does not get any easier for the boys in red as they travel north this weekend for two crucial road games, in Boston Saturday and Ottawa Sunday. The Capitals have to get at least one win in those games. It is critical for their confidence as they look towards not only January 1st, but also the rest of their season. Game time Saturday from TD Garden is scheduled for 7 P.M.
Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!