Caps Burned by Flames

Archive: Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals fell to the Calgary Flames last night by a score of 2-1 with the Capitals lone goal coming on a re-direct by Sergei Federov in the first period.The Caps were unable to get anything going last night as special teams (PP and PK) seemed to spend most of the night on the ice.

The Caps were given a nine-minute power play in the first period as Calgary winger Rene Bourque (no relation to Chris or Ray) was given four penalties including a game misconduct when he assaulted Capitals forward Tyler Sloan. The Capitals only response was a penalty of their own when Michael Nylander was called for holding resulting in some 4-on-4 ice time.

I’ve heard of refs evening out the penalties before, but it certainly seemed like the Flames could do no wrong after Bourque’s initial penalty as they only had two more penalties for the rest of the night even though it was very apparent that there were several missed slashing and hooking calls. Meanwhile the refs called a very tight game versus the Caps giving them 10 penalties for a total of 20 minutes.

In all fairness however, I cannot place the blame for this loss squarely on the refs. I cannot even blame subpar goaltending as Theodore was fantastic.

This loss was due to a lack of aggression by the Caps forwards. The Caps seemed to be trying too hard to find only the perfect shots. They passed the puck largely effectively in the offensive zone, but seemed reluctant to pull the trigger, resulting in turnovers that seemed to send a lot of odd-man rushes towards Theodore.

It’s great to see a lack of selfishness by the Caps, but sometimes you just have to send the puck towards the net and see what happens. Yes this can often end in a turnover, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot.

If last night’s game were judged solely on stick-handling and passing, the Caps would’ve won, but unfortunately the games are graded based on how many times you get the puck into your opponents’ net.

This game was the first of a three game road trip for the Caps, needless to say it doesn’t bode well for them to start off with a loss.

The Caps are now 3-2-1 in their first six games, and Alex Ovechkin hasn’t scored a goal since the second game of the season when he lit the lamp twice versus Chicago. One has to wonder if part of his scoring slump is due to having too much time involved in special teams with Alex playing both power-play and penalty-kill along with his regular ice time.

Sure, it seems like having Ovie out there as much as possible should increase his scoring opportunities, and having him on the penalty-kill does add for some interesting match-ups and occasionally allows him to break into the offensive zone, but he still spends a lot of time chasing the puck and wiping out power players along the boards.

Certainly Ovie would never complain about carrying the load, that’s what makes him such a great player, but maybe he should be resting and rely on the penalty killers just to kill the penalties the old fashioned way without worrying about trying to score short-handed.

Then again, it could be just a slump.

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