Caps Finally Show Up, Eight Periods Too Late

Tonight, the Capitals spent 4:33 of the first 5:26 of the second period on the power play. Part of that power play time included a lengthy 5-on-3. The result? At the end of those five minutes and twenty-six seconds the Capitals were even further behind the Panthers than they were at the start of the period.

For a game in which the Caps scored two power play goals, their power play sure did look anemic. One could look at the box score and think that the Panthers played a badly undisciplined game (11 penalties) but the truth was that they had simply figured out the secret to keeping the Capitals from putting goals on the board. With all the talk about the defense being too inexperienced, too out of position, too not-keeping-the-puck-out-of-the-net-ish, I feel like the real problem with this team has been the offense. It's not that they aren't getting chances, but they seem to be completely incapable of converting those chances. It seems like every single player on the team not named Alex or Chris is completely snakebit. I don't know if it's just a really, really, really, really nasty team-wide slump, or if it's a more serious malaise. Given the fact that Richard Zednik returned from injury, played exceptionally well, and still couldn't make a difference, I'm leaning towards the latter. (Editor's Note: I am not, in any way, trying to let the defense off the hook here. They played pretty bad too.)

The more serious problem, however, is the consistently slow starts they have exhibited over the past month and a half. During the first intermission, Craig Laughlin asked Jamie Heward about the Caps poor first period, and Heward's respons was, in effect, that the Caps were caught off guard by the Panther's energy and speed. Seriously?! The Caps have been pasted twice by the Panthers in the past two weeks, yet somehow they manage to come out flat footed yet again, giving up the first goal and trailing almost the entire game. (In all fairness, the Panthers' first goal should absolutely have been disallowed due to goaltender interference.)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a bold prediction. The Capitals will not make the playoffs this season. Period. They are now in last place in the Southeast division, 9 points out of the eighth seed in the conference, and falling fast. Getting some defensemen back from the injured list might help, but by then it will be too late, and besides, it won't solve the offensive woes.

I'm not entirely sure how to proceed from here. After spending much of the first half with very real playoff hopes, I find myself somewhat disillusioned. I am aware that, realistically, the Caps are right where I expected them to be back at the beginning of the year, but after seeing the playoffs flash before my eyes, going back to the whole "enjoying watching the guys grow as a team and not worrying about wins and losses" thing seems rather unappealing. The only thing left to root for at this point really is that Alex Ovechkin maintain his lead in the goal scoring race and, hopefully, catch Sidney Crosby for the overall points race.

Of course, I won't be the least bit upset if the Caps bounce bag, reel off a winning streak, and make me eat my words. In fact, I'd love that.

Recaps From People That Matter:
-A View From The Cheap Seats
-Bettman Hates Hockey!
-Bleatings From a Caps Nut
-Capital Fanatic
-Capitals Corner

Special Bonus Coverage! Question of the Day: Which of the three Florida losses is most embarassing? Answer in the comments.


Capital Fanatic said...

This one by far was the most embarrassing. Because the loss puts us in last place now 9 points out of a playoff spot.

CapsChick said...

God, do I really have to pick one? I didn't see the first loss, so I'm choosing to pretend it didn't happen. I guess I'll have to agree with CF, then - dropping to 5th in the division behind the swamp cats makes this loss the most painful.

They could still go on a 30-game winning streak, though...right? Oh, wait, no. They play the Panthers twice more before the end of the season. Okay, 28-2 between now and April 7, who's with me? :)