So the Capitals are sliding behind the playoff 8-ball. Hammered last night in Philly by a final score of 6-3, where Brière has lit a fire somewhere and Biron’s thrown up a Berlin-esque wall, the hometown hockey heroes has looked more like the ice-capades on a road trip.
Where’s the fire that exploded from this team in the third period of Game One? Watching Sunday’s game was like watching the Caps back in October, when the team was terrible and looking to beat Columbus down the standings.
Last night was marginally better, but only just.
The Caps got behind early on Sunday and never recovered; Ovechkin was double-teamed and his support cast was nowhere to be found. That’s not how you win playoff hockey – it’s how you give the opposing goalie a shutout. Guess what happened?
I’ll give Washington credit, they did try to stage another late rally, closing the gap to 4-3 on Laich’s goal at 4:34 remaining. But Philly rallied quick, with Mike Richards zinging Huet on a penalty shot less than two minutes later. Nail? Meet hammer.
Biron could’ve taken naps in his goal – the Caps had a total of 16 shots on the evening. Compare that to the final games of the regular season, when Caps opponents were seeing flurries of 30 and 40 shots.
Where have the Caps disappeared to?
Now, not all is lost. The series is only 2-1 in the Flyers’ favor. But they face another rough game ahead in Philadelphia before coming back to the Verizon Center. Which could be the Caps’ swan song…or not. Honestly, it’s really up to the rest of the team.
You can’t hang all the pressure on Ovechkin – though ineffective since his game-winning goal in Game One, he’s hardly at fault. The Flyers defense has been tightly focused on shutting him down (even after losing Timonen), and they’ve done so with frightening ease. In times like this, it’s dependant upon the superstar’s supporting cast to step up and make a difference. We know they can – we saw ample evidence of it in the last month of the regular season. Semin, Kozlov, Federov, Backstrom – pretty much non-existent forces on the ice right now. I’ll give a pass to Mike Green – his sniper shots are still scary as heck, as we saw last night.
So don’t despair quite yet, Caps fans. If the Flyers dominate to another win on Thursday, however…
Maybe the Pope could swing by the Verizon Center on his out-and-about birthday tour and toss out a few blessings…
IMG_5190 copy, courtesy of island_explorer