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Posted at 10:35 AM ET, 02/26/2011

Home losing streak stretches to three in a row

By Gene Wang

Among the myriad concerns for the Washington Capitals following last night's 6-0 loss to the New York Rangers at Verizon Center, at the top of the list is the recent slide at home, where victories were all but a formality last season.

Washington has lost three straight at home and has been outscored 12-1 over that time. The Capitals have not won consecutively at Verizon Center in 18 straight games, the longest such stretch since 2003-04, and with just nine home games left in the regular season, time is dwindling quickly to get that corrected before the playoffs.

The Capitals are 17-8-7 at home this season but over the last 12 games have just four victories. Last season Washington went 30-5-6 at Verizon Center for the best home record in the league.

"Home is where you're supposed to have a very lopsided record," forward Mike Knuble said. "It's okay, but it's probably more of a result of good play in October and November when we loaded up some home wins. It's supposed to be where you do well and you play your best hockey, and for us, it hasn't been that way. We've been pretty comfortable on the road. At home, we've been having trouble."

Last night's blowout loss to the Rangers was especially disconcerting considering the Capitals should have been well rested by faceoff. Players had two days off after completing their recent road trip, then practiced on Thursday, but the energy clearly was lacking for 60 minutes against New York.

Steve Eminger scored first at 5 minutes 56 seconds of the first period, and Erik Christensen followed with a goal at 14:47. By the time Christensen tallied his second goal at 4:19 in the second period on the power play, the Rangers were well on their way to a victory that moved them within four points of Washington for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Capitals, meantime, were left to wonder how they could have played so miserably after a discussion beforehand about finishing strong on home ice. Washington plays five of seven at home after tonight's game at the New York Islanders and four of its final six there, and given that last year's first-round playoff series loss to Montreal came even with home-ice advantage, gaining momentum at Verizon Center becomes all the more important down the stretch.

"It's something that we talked about," Coach Bruce Boudreau said after last night's loss. "We went over it today that we had 10 home games left. We wanted to do all the right things. We talked about all the right things, about making it tough to come into this building and everything else, so the timing of that talk and what we went over, and then this game, was not good.

"I think it's probably the worst home loss I've been associated with in 10-years plus, or in memory. We just have to make up for it tomorrow and then make up for it when we get back here and show these people how good we can be."

By Gene Wang  | February 26, 2011; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble  
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Next: Jay Beagle recalled, Semyon Varlamov to start against Islanders

Comments

first

Posted by: Tondi | February 26, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they need to stay at a hotel with a curfew when they are at home. Might be having too much extracurricular fun the the D.C. area.

Katie, I would love to see a correlation between how Ovie does when he shows up for "optional" practices/morning skates compared to when he doesn't.

Posted by: Albright4Snapper | February 26, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The Rangers seem to always stick with their system against the Caps. The Caps can't handle the Rangers system. The Caps suffer from a lack of coaching.

I just hope it's better against NYI.

Posted by: chriscaps | February 26, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

If you include the overtime losses the Caps are a 500 club at home. BTW, It is absurd you get a point for lossing in overtime. A loss should be a loss. The Caps would not be in playoff position if you negate those overtime games. They can not win in overtime. they can not win at home. I would not expect much from this team. It is possible they may not make the playoffs. Also the absense of Green seems to really matter.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

@doom_and_gloom
"Fact: This team is young, soft, and lacks leadership."

In a nutshell, that pretty much sums it up.

@ablake70
"The Stephan hit was not dirty. I like Green, but he skated right into that hit."

Frankly, I wish more of our forwards would throw some weight around instead of just absorbing the oncoming hit. If DJK did that to Letang and was disciplined for it, I'd be screaming that Letang shouldn't lead with his face when going into the boards.

The hit on Green, much to Caps fans' dismay, did not warrant an immediate response. Erskine was there, and everybody knows he won't hesitate to do the right thing. I'm sure he saw what the refs and I saw: good tough play along the boards. Also, if Green is going to crosscheck a player into the boards moments before, he'd better be ready and prepared for a little payback by the same player. I'd offer that BB erred and worked Green back into the lineup prematurely.

However, after Stepan ran at Ovi someone should've stepped-up and put him in his place. Maybe Brads/Hendricks were worried that they'd have to answer to Prust if they tried to exact a pound of flesh.

After last night's game, fans of any other team would be guaranteed to see DJK in their lineup. HE BETTER BE IN THE LINEUP TONITE!!

***i've got a favor/question to ask of anyone skilled at researching data/facts: when was the last time a Caps player received two fighting majors in the same game?

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 26, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Teams that can not win in overtime generally are not good character teams. The overtime record concerns me more than anything else. It has to do with being a team winning in clutch situations. The Caps occasionally show up for the National games. They disappear in overtime. Can you imagine The Caps in a playoff overtime game against Philly or Boston. Most likely they would fumble. Forget the trade thing. There are major chemistry issues with the team. It starts with The Coach. Look to next year. New prospects coming up, more maturity, and a new coach. This year is done. Next year the Caps will be better.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

@pkme

Not acceptable. This organization is a train wreck. This needs to be McPhees last stand. He shouldn't get another chance.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 26, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

@tominvermont: I'm going to disagree respectfully you on this one. Stepan hit on Green was way worse than Bradley hit on Cooke, yet Pitt went after Bradley immediately and then made him throw down. We meanwhile let Stepan run wild last night (he almost put a dangerous hit on Ovi) and then left the slot complteley open (unlike every club that plays us) so he could get a tap-in gimme in the 2nd period.

Retribution isn't just for the dirtiest hits.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Is it too late for the Caps to be sellers this year?

Knuble, Laich, Bradley, Semin, Hannan, Schultz and Chimera could all be moved.

Does anyone think it would make a difference? I mean, if we're doomed anyway?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

GM drafts and signs talented soft players. So as long as he is here, you have to live with it. I think when DJK is on the bench or ice there is a lot less of the nonsense going on with our star players. I don't think Stepfan(?) would have been trying to hit everything that moved last night with DJK in the lineup. That blame goes to BB. Stick DJK in front of the net on a power play, what could it hurt???

Posted by: jmcale57 | February 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

tom

I disagree with Knuble and Hannan being traded. They are among the few with character and maturity.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid McPhee might panic at the last minute (especially if we are schooled tonight) and the next GM might come in and we're out draft picks and some of our best prospects just so we could lose in the 1st Round.

I suggested back in November we hire Larry Robinson to come in and coach.

Instead I'm afraid the next 48 hours could haunt us for some time.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Retribution isn't just for the dirtiest hits.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

WELL SAID, and point taken. That's just the attitude and swagger that's sorely missing on this club. Too bad BB chose to banish DJK all year instead of exploiting the attributes he could've (and would've) provided the team.

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 26, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I believe that there has been a divided locker room for several months and some of the earlier posts may have highlighted or reinforced my opinion.

-John Erskine has never shied away from sticking up for a team mate until last night. Mike Green (AKA Queen) was hit with a simple counter check, sometimes referred to as the "shocker" in coaching cirlces. He uses this techniques quite a bit and last night, he ate one of them. He then proceeds to lay on the ice like the drama queen he is and the rangers score. His softness is not news to the rest of the NHL, he is targeted for a reason-because he (along with MANY others) is soft. John Erskine might be fed up with how he and other chosen ones are favored on the caps team by BB. When a teammate does not stick up for you something is clearly amiss.

This team has no identity and appears to be a rudderless ship. BB better get in as many cheesy commercials as he can because hoefully his days are numbered. GMGM has to take blame for this as well. He provides the soft players BB "tries" to motivate. At least the grinders will provide a level of entertainment the fans deserve.

One more thing, someone please tell that poster boy Brooks Laich to put his effort where his mouth is. The fans are acutely aware that you (and others) get paid very well to play a game you love. We have been paying for quite awhile-now it's time for you (and everyone else) to live up to your end of the agreement.

This is just so frustrating!!

Posted by: SOMDHockeyCoach | February 26, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

@Tom

How many rebuilds should McPhee get? If your gonna rebuild, it starts with a GM.

By the way, the new Ted's Take is up. I suggest we light up this christmas tree. Deadline 2 days away. Either we want a Stanley Cup, or we don't.

McPhees last stand.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 26, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

pkme: I was being sarcastic. But, Knuble isn't coming back most likely next year. And Hannan, who knows? If the Caps were sellers, both of those players would be moved.

No, I fully realize we can't go into full sell mode. It would send a terrible message. Before you do that, you change the coach. Just don't put Evason. His comment last night (Bite of the Night) where he even suggested "hot goalie" made me gag.

We need a new GM from outside the organization and a completely new set of coaches. The purge of players can occur over the summer. Hannan, I'm on record as saying, I would surely bring back. Green, Carlson, Alzer, Hannan, Erskine, and Orlov have the makings of a good D set. Orlov not next year, we need another Ersk type for a year or two added in.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Brooks Laich "Stay Angry" t-shits are on sale, buy 1, get 2 free.

You can order them:

brooksiestaysangry@boudreausbunch.com

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@SomDcoach: your "soft"comment and "drama queen" term for Mike Green are way out of line. I hope you never have to suffer a head injury Iin order to understand what Green is probably experiencing.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | February 26, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I watched last night's game from the comfort of my kitchen couch. I booed. Yes, at home knowing they couldn't here my physically but hoping they'd hear my Kharmacially.
Last night's game was aweful. The only guy who brought it was Ovi. He was the only guy who looked like he wanted it. Everyone else looked like they were skating through wet concrete.
I won't be watching tonight's game. It's a protest. I don't care if they're playing the Islanders. I will find something else to do.
Hopefully my protest will Kharmacially reach them.

Posted by: putnasaur | February 26, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Tom

Do not forget MJ. he plays with heart and seems to have higher hockey smarts than about 80% of the team. He is a keeper. There is no Dale Hunter, Tocchett or Pronger type on this team. Or Dino. We have among the largest yet softest team in the whole NHL.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I never thought of Green as soft. he is one of the best players on the team. Is Mark Savard a softie. No. Crosby is one tough son of gun also. I know people will say i am crazy saying nice things about Crosby. Crosby has got to be one of the hardest working players in The NHL.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

pkme: I didn't list the forwards I'd keep. Ovi, Backie and MJ as I expect Backie and Ovi to rebound. Hendricks and I'd bring back Bradley. I'm not ready to completely write off Semin (give him a center like Umberger and a young Knuble as LW). Also, you don't trade Kuzzie or Eakin in the next 48 for a rental (for a real piece like Umberger, yes). I also like role players like AGordon and Beagle, they can give you 4th line action.

We have very, very little toughness up and down the organiztion. Even the new guys like Carlson and Alzner, they never get in scrums. Our team is totally scrum-challenged.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I also want to come to Green's defense. Whoever called him a drama queen gets the tominsocal1 stamp of disapproval. In the old days, it would be Company G for that kind of remark. Start marching!

Now, the English have an expression: "The King is dead; long live the King."

I put that because it will take Brooks Laich about one nanosecond after BB is fired to start singing the praises of the new coach.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 26, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The press is being way too soft on the Caps. There is no bigger Caps fan than I am, but they are a soft, under achieving group of mismatched stars that don't play hard consistently,yes, even the Great 8 takes plays off. Hate to say this but may be time to deal off one of our other great two players -- Bakstrom or Semin- get some tough, hard nosed grinder types like Knuble but younger. Every other team looks like they are going 100 mph and the Caps are in the HOV lane at 60 MPH. But 18,600 Caps fans keep showing up so they must be ok with mediocrity. Too bad. Thought we had a Cup champ in the making.

Posted by: bobby5050 | February 26, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I believe that there has been a divided locker room for several months and some of the earlier posts may have highlighted or reinforced my opinion.

Posted by: SOMDHockeyCoach | February 26, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I truly believe we have a fractured at best, divided at worst, locker room because that's what favoritism and a caste system will breed. Weeks ago, Knuble responded to a question via phone on "NHL on the Fly" pertaining to Laich praising the coach. I wasn't sure what to make of Knuble's comment other than it hinted that all wasn't kosher between coach and team.

Now, I think the locker room is divided between those who support BB (Laich being the spokesperson for the chosen ones) and those who don't (most likely the older vets, like Knuble/Erskine/Bradley, who've been around the league awhile).

And to the poster who suggested putting DJK on the power play, God bless ya!! I think it was tominsocal who once pointed out BB uses the pp to allow his chosen ones to pad their stats instead of spreading the icetime around to those whose play merits some kine of reward.

If DJK isn't in the lineup tonight I vow to post 3 times daily that he should be fired immediately, and I'll do so until BB is finally gone....

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 26, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Tom

One thing about the old Caps teams is they were at least tough and most nights they worked their tail off. Sure they came up short and yes they were sometimes boring but you always got the feeling they would lay their body down for each other. They were not the most talented but they would clear forwards out of the crease and just about every player would crash the net. These guys seemed scared to go to the net. They can no longer score pretty goals because every team has out game planned BB and his staff. They rarely even now charge the net. They are the softest team ever. i would almost take the 1970"s Caps over this bunch of guys. The teams back them knew they stunk but they at least tried. Caps today work a couple of games and then they get cocky and some team comes in and beats the daylights out of them. Everyone says are forwards are so skilled. Really. The numbers this year do not support that. All potential and no toughess or heart equals bad results.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

@putnasaur

Won't be watching tonight's game either since I'm going to the Wizards game. Yes, the Wizards are terrible and I'm been more into hockey than basketball the last few years but I probably need the distraction of another activity at this point.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 26, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@bobby5050

Of course, we have a Cup champ in the making - but only with our young guns ... they can play the game going 120 mph ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | February 26, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Trade OVI and Backstrom for Harts, Richards and Carter. Sort of kidding. Would that be an equal trade anyone?

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

They're trying too hard to put on a good show at home. On the road it's just another hockey game.

Its telling when Verizon Center management plays fight the fury midway into the second period, and releases the parachute t-shirts before the third. How about we trade some of our season ticket holders for new blood...? The people next to me were awful the entire game. Everything coming out of their mouths was negative. I really don't need to be around that kind of energy. At least by the end of the game the crowd had become so despondent that they stopped using those stupid cheers. The "who cares" chant. Yeah, not cool. Who started that junk anyway? A bunch of dorks who have been relegated to the sidelines and/or never played a sport their entire lives? -2 points for sportsmanship people.

Posted by: letsgocaps3 | February 26, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

letsgovaps

Remember Caps tickets are very expensive. Even BB thought the team deserved to be booed. If you are spending your hard earned money to watch millionaire atheletes who look uninterested in showing up I would have been unhappy sitting in the stands. That being said listening to folks around me complaining the whole game is absurd also. I do know what you mean. At the end of the day it is entertainment.

Posted by: pkme | February 26, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

letsgocaps3: I'm assuming you aren't a season ticket holder and spent a lot of hard earned money to get to last night's game. The fans that say "who cares" are actually very avid Caps fans. They say that because they don't want to hear the announcement when a visiting team has scored. Really, they aren't saying they don't care that the Capitals got scored on. Hope that makes sense.

Posted by: fanohock1 | February 26, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I posted this a month ago, but I'll post it again, my son and his buddies do the club scene in DC. Why are they seeing players out the night before games, and hitting last call during the season?

Posted by: guruvinny | February 26, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I posted this a month ago, but I'll post it again, my son and his buddies do the club scene in DC. Why are they seeing players out the night before games, and hitting last call during the season?

Posted by: guruvinny | February 26, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse


^^THIS

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Posted by: josephmarin123 | February 27, 2011 1:04 AM | Report abuse

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