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Posted at 11:58 PM ET, 12/15/2010

Anaheim prevails, 2-1 in OT, hands Caps seventh straight loss

By Katie Carrera

It's hard to discount the strong defensive game that the Capitals played Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. How they stuck to their system, checked well and for the vast majority of the game the support in the defensive zone was apparent on every shift. But after several missed scoring chances -- most notably: Alex Ovechkin hitting the cross bar, Nicklas Backstrom hitting the post on that tic-tac-toe play, Ryan Getzlaf sweeping Brooks Laich's shot off the goal line -- the Capitals still lost, 2-1 in overtime.

It's their seventh straight defeat and the franchise's longest losing streak since the 2006-07 season, when Washington lost nine straight beginning on Feb. 5. And the Capitals, or at least David Steckel, would trade hearing about their strong play for a win.

"It's a great response, but it's just another kick" in the you-know-whats, Steckel said. "I mean, you thought that was going to be [the end of the losing streak]. The doldrums there in New York, you thought it couldn't get any worse, but when you go and give an effort and you don't get rewarded, I tell you what, it stings just as much as that [butt]-kicking."

While Washington's game against the Ducks should give them momentum to build upon, it was a tough loss to accept. Coach Bruce Boudreau said he was taking the glass-half-empty approach while mindful that his team will be trying to work through the frustration of playing so well and not finding the desired result before its next game in Boston on Saturday.

"This was an emotional game for all of them and it's time for them all to get rolled up and do it again," Boudreau said. "We'll have two more good practices and then we'll be on our way to Boston."

--One of the most interesting inner battles of this game was Boudreau's decision to assemble his checking line from seasons past of Brooks Laich, Steckel and Matt Bradley to oppose the Ducks' high-powered trio of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. It worked pretty well for the most part.

Through two periods, Anaheim's top line had three shots and Getzlaf had won just 7 of 19 faceoffs. He would ultimately score the game-winner in overtime, when out against Ovechkin and Backstrom, and the Ducks' top line would finish with seven shots between them, but the Capitals kept the group largely in check.

"These are veteran guys that have come through and that have played for me and have done it before," Boudreau said of Laich, Steckel and Bradley. "I looked back to the Pittsburgh series [in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs] where they were our checking line. They might not have had the success the would have liked to earlier on in the year but I knew if I gave them a job they would come out and do it. And they would do it very well."

--The Capitals weren't without scoring chances tonight but once again they really couldn't seem to get any bounces to go their way (particularly on the plays mentioned earlier).

"It just hit the post, I think, right away. I don't think he saved it. I don't know how but I guess that happens when you're struggling," Backstrom said of his missed opportunity on the three-on-one in the second period. "It's tough but it's a positive thing [that] we played much better than the game the other night. We just have to keep working, eventually the puck is going to bounce our way."

Said Mike Knuble: "It's going to take some small steps here to move forward. Again, it's not a win. All the sudden wins have become very elusive and for this group...it's a different feeling for sure."

--The style of game that the Capitals exhibited tonight is far from the type everyone has grown accustomed to watching during Boudreau's tenure. Asked if the strategies used against Anaheim are what Washington must embrace to take the next step forward or if it represents a crossroads in the team's identity, Boudreau said there might be more of this style but that they're not deserting the past, either.

"If this is the way we have to play to win this is the way we have to play," Boudreau said. "We have to win the 3-1 games, the 2-1 games. It might not look as pretty and we might not have a 60-goal scorer, even though I still think we'll have at least a 50-goal scorer.... It's going to be a more, 'Let's create chances off of turnovers and then go,' rather than exchange rush for rush and go.

"It gives us the ability to play both ways now," Boudreau said. "It's really nice to know that you can change and players can understand the change right away. It just enhances our playbook."

--HBO aired the first episode of its "24/7" series leading up to the Capitals-Penguins Winter Classic, and D.C. Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg (bleeping) wrote all about it. Among the revelations: Mike Green is dealing with some sort of knee injury.

--The Caps practice at 11 a.m. tomorrow at KCI.

By Katie Carrera  | December 15, 2010; 11:58 PM ET
Categories:  Anaheim Ducks, Bruce Boudreau, David Steckel, Mike Knuble  
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Next: The importance of continuing defensive intensity

Comments

If Flash can score 5 goals with a new coach and new system, how many goals can all the Caps score with a new coach and new system (meaning if you replace BB with a respectable new coach)?

Posted by: puckman | December 16, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Carlson finally registers a hit in a game (2) and gets his first point in ages...go figure. Why does he always seem to be on the ice when a particularly-deflating goal is scored against us?

Poti played much better being paired w/Erskine again (another strong, physical game turned in by #4).

Welcome back, Green. Wish he and Alzner would've defended better on the pp goal allowed. Why did both of them stand 3 feet in front of Lupol/Getzlaf and leave Varly w/a two-on-o down low?

Hannan? Like Corvo last year, he won't be able to play his way out of the lineup so long as BB is the coach.

Beagle and Gordon, but no DJK? Funny how the Ducks were able to work Sutton and Parros onto their 4th line. Aside from Erskine giving the business behind the net after a whistle to Lupol, I didn't see any abrasiveness in the Caps whatsoever.

Anyone want 4 tickets to the game in Boston? They're in the "all you can eat section" (no jab, saoti,)

It's all becoming clear to me: my two favorite teams, a Saturday night. The Caps get smoked, Bradley gets thumped and the sight of his blood sends Beantown's fans into a frenzy. Erskine battles Thornton to a draw, the only saving grace in an otherwise humiliating game.

CapRuins...

BB canned before the next game. YOU HEARD IT FROM ME FIRST.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 16, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

In Carlson's defense, he is 20 years old. He's very young to be thrust into his current role. GMGM took a gamble and we don't really know if it's paid off yet. We can pick apart every hit, every turn-over, every missed net, etc. But what good would that do?

This game is supposed to be fun. I'm sure it's not so fun for these guys after losing 7 in a row.

This is a team sport and everyone has to "click" for everything to go right. That can't happen all the time...

This team is facing adversity IN THE REGULAR SEASON. I truly believe it's better to face it now than in April, May or June.

I've been a serious BB fan since he took over the team and helped them over-achieve (when we lost to Philly in 7).

I hate to be an advocate for a coaching change, but I'm starting to believe that these guys might need a new voice in the room. I KNOW they respect BB, and I know they truly want to win for him, and for themselves... and I know it's only December. This team has a LOT of talent, but do we have the heart? Do we have guys that will sacrifice all of themselves for this team?

I'm not sure if we have an answer yet, but we need to make the playoffs in order to win a cup, right? So WWTD (what would Ted do?). I know this organization wants to win a cup. If this streak doesn't end very, very soon, they must do something to shake things up... Just my opinion.

Posted by: sca187 | December 16, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why anyone would call this a solid effort. It wasn't. It was a timid, tentative effort by a team that's become afraid to lose more than it's trying to win.

cstanton1 predicted a solid effort and 28+ hits. I didn't count the hits. Were there 28? It sure didn't look like it unless you count looking at the other player sideways. Were there any hits at all? It looked to me more like the first exhibition game by the scrubs in Sept than a mid-season tilt by a desparate team.

The Ducks played a lousy game and hardly put out any effort. Nobody hit anybody. Meanwhile every time the Caps had a chance, all three times, they overpassed the puck. Nobody cycled. Nobody tried. They coulda been contandahs...they coulda been someBODY.

This was a crap game. Want proof? The crowd was quieter than Lindsay Lohan's probation officer when she asks if he can give her a break.

I'm sorry but if the Caps are ever going to get the funk outta this funk it needs to start with some bone-jarring, board-rattling hard hits.

As I said earlier today, yesterday to most of you, we've regressed all the way back to where we look like the Jagr-led Caps. Ugly. Ugly and uninspired. And Ovechkin? He's hardly even there.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 16, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

jay beagle and andrew gordon make BB decisions look GENIOUS!!!! i have BB back but if he keeps making more idiotic decisions like the personnel decision tonight, I'll change my mind

Posted by: _stevo | December 16, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious to hear everyone's feedback of the HBO 24/7 premiere tonight? It was interesting to watch, but I think BB made himself look pretty bad with his continuous drop of the f-bomb. I'm not easily offended by profanity, but this is a bit over the top even for me. I'm still a fan of his, and I'm not on 'Team Fire BB' but his ranting was kind of crazy looking.

Posted by: REST0NCAPSFAN | December 16, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

BB's obstinance in not giving DJK a chance to get in and stir things up, at LEAST ONCE during this skid, should be grounds for dismissal alone.

If BB throws DJK into the lineup Sat. night, I won't allow the IRONY to go un-noticed. (BB essentially asking DJK to pick up the team, spark them to victory, and SAVE HIS OWN JOB....best thing DJK could do for the team would be to turn the other cheek the WHOLE GAME)

The perfect storm is brewing, something's gotta give....I can feel it all the way up here

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 16, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

@REST0NCAPSFAN. I have not watched it yet, have it DVRed but after the loss didnd't want to watch it, but having grown up in hockey locker rooms I am sure there is going to be a whole lot of profanity. That is just the way things are in hockey locker rooms. I have so many stories that cannot be told over a message board and I am sure that will be the same with this series. Even uncensored as it claims to be I bet there is still a lot going on that they cannot show even on HBO.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 16, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea of the Capitals getting a more balanced game to try and get an extended playoff run, but they really need to get some life in the offence. Tonight they really outplayed the Ducks for the first two periods but couldn't finish. Overall it was the most solid game they've played in a while and if they play like that they'll win most nights. One thing they really need to do is tell Ovechkin to stop trying to pick corners. When he's scoring a lot, most of his goals aren't really that close to the posts, but he shoots the puck so hard that they just beat goalies, or they get a piece of it but can't stop it. When goalies are talking about his shot they always way it's a really heavy shot and you often slow it down but can't stop it. When you have a shot like that you really don't need to pick corners. He's been scoring 50 a year mainly on shots directed at areas that goalies would typically stop if fired with less pace. But when he gets in a scoring slump he seems to go for more perfect shots and ends up missing either high or wide. But really, a foot off the ice inside the post is the ideal location for him to shoot. If it doesn't go through the goalie there's at least a good chance of getting a nice rebound if the shot goes a bit low. With Knuble driving to the net that's a fine play. Same idea when he's shooting on the powerplay. You don't need a perfect shot as long as you get it off quick and hit the net. Tonight there was basically zero traffic in front of the net on the powerplay (for some reason Knuble was hanging out 15 feet from the point in the middle of nowhere) but if you're actually running a simple powerplay correctly and have traffic in front, then pass it around until you get an open shot, all you have to do is get it on net. You don't need to shoot as hard as you can and you don't need to aim for corners. Just keep it simple. Traffic, shot, screen/deflection/rebound. With good puck movement and a couple guys on the point who can one time the puck and hit the net, a team can be top 5 in the league in that department with even that simple formula.

Posted by: Stu_c | December 16, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't dislike steckel but boo freakin hoo! You gave a good effort and lost! So what!? Maybe it goes a little way to canceling out all those times your team played like dogsht and still pulled it out. Ever consider that? Maybe as a 'pro' you should consider givin a great effort EVERY night. Just a thought buddy.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 16, 2010 1:50 AM | Report abuse

No Show OV had 0 hits in the game. Aside from that stat, and him getting 0 points once again... it's not a surprise anymore.

When is this guy going to get called out?

Is he starting to become the new Vladimir Krutov? The skill is there but everything is is not.

Posted by: BigGameSid | December 16, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

tom ur right. They underplayed my expectations and I feel foolish for giving them so much credit. And I pointed that out after the 1st. If they can't muster an extraordinary effort in a game like this they really are pathetic. And way off the pace. I vow to be more pessimistic from now on. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice....

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 16, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

think eric boulton, a mainstay in the atl lineup, would have any hope of cracking the caps lineup? Maybe if atl wins the division the caps can find yet another team to try and imitate.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 16, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

tom they had 25 hits tonite but frankly only 1 or 2 had any real pop to em. This is a finesse hockey team currently lacking fnesse. Ah the irony.

and it would be funny if bb gave djk a shot in the lineup to spark the team. Considering he's not deemed worthy in any capacity.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 16, 2010 2:06 AM | Report abuse

maybe since hannan completed our defense, then djk completes our offense!

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 16, 2010 2:08 AM | Report abuse

BTW they only scored 1 goal and lost to one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

Posted by: BigGameSid | December 16, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

biggame. Your Pens had a nice meltdown this evening.

Posted by: pkme | December 16, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

between the caps and redskins i am tired of hearing about bad luck. bad luck doesnt lose you 7 games in a row. every team experiences bad luck. yet every team isnt losing every game

Posted by: royhperkins | December 16, 2010 2:51 AM | Report abuse

On RMNB there was a statement, that a game against Ducks was a must win.
Actually, the next game is no less a must win. Because there was no reward for hard efforts, so the next time it could be a deflated team and something like 3-0 loss and even more frustration.
Then there will be 23rd and classics, change of BB and down the drain goes the season.
So, let's hope for the best and that two practices before Boston will keep caps motivated.

Posted by: Michael01a | December 16, 2010 3:21 AM | Report abuse

it's a sad day when we as fans see a mediocre game from our team and claim it's a step in the right direction.

i haven't watched all of HBO show and I'm not sure if i can. a friend sent me a clip of BB just cussing everyone out. that's not way to motivate. judging by how we're playing as a team it's going in one ear and out the other.

this is my team and i'm never going to quit on them as a fan but i thought this was supposed to "be the year" but at the beginning of the season when GMGM chose not to actually bring in the pieces we all know were missing and just rely on young kids i knew we were in trouble. i like the kids on defense but they aren't ready. i'm also very sick at watching alzner not hit anyone in front of the net or anywhere for that matter. i'm sick of watching our players not finishing checks or not going a bit out of their way to finish a check.

unfortunately a change needs to be made. and it needs to start with GMGM, we're not the red wings, we'll never be the red wings and even the red wings had tough players that would do anything for the TEAM to win.

our window for the cup is closing, it just is. we can't keep waiting for our kids to be NHLers, sometimes you actually have to bring in someone who is a leader and who's won a cup. i'm not counting Knuble, who to me has been a waste of a winger on the top line.

ok, had to get that out, i feel better now.

we make the devils look good right now!

Posted by: natresgroup | December 16, 2010 3:33 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

i'd love some tickets for saturday. i live in Providence
mcintire_will@hotmail.com

Posted by: mcintire_will | December 16, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't have HBO. I'm hearing 2 different opinions: 1. BB cusses a lot but looks like a good coach. 2. BB looks like he is clueless and has no idea what to do. Which is it, or neither? Thanks.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 16, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

As soon as I saw the scratches I knew the team was doomed (I predicted the lose in an earlier thread). I have to admit I'm glad they lost, hopefully GMGM is getting the message. This coach has lost the team, the league has figured his one dimensional system out and as likable as he is (great hockey success story) he just can't cut it at the NHL level.

As others mentioned Anaheim manages to win with Parros in the lineup, so why does BB scratch King nightly? Perhaps King called BB out on his lack of coaching skill, BB is 'feeling sorry for himself' and refuses to put him on the ice :)

Posted by: FLDave | December 16, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Just make the damned change already.

Posted by: rdondero123 | December 16, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

OK, GMGM gets rid of BB. Who does he hire as his replacement and does he keep the rest of the coaching staff?

If he let's BB go,I say the rest of the staff goes as well. But again, who is hired?

Posted by: jwash4472 | December 16, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

In other news Fleischman gets a hat trick last night. That may have been the worse trade McPhee has ever made. Both he and Bruce need to be fired ASAP if you want to win the cup.

Posted by: alling | December 16, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Sooooo, the chosen-ones got creamed by the NYR too?!? I guess Sunday's game wasn't so flukey after all.

Posted by: AmyS1 | December 16, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

@BigGame
0 hits...obviously you didn't see the game. Several hits and a nice assist on Brook's goal if I am not mistaken. Hey the Pens did well last night didn't they? Go back under your bridge Troll.

Posted by: Iceman10 | December 16, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

In So Calif, Center Ice blocked, so watched Anaheim broadcasters: John Ahlers and Brian Hayward (former NHL goaltender). Choice comments:

Their calls and comments were well balanced, giving Caps credit and accolades. (One note: They called Ovie "one of" the great players in hockey. A demotion?)

1st period - Described Ducks being outplayed & fortunate to be down by only 1.

2nd period - Pretty even matchup. (They, of course, noted the "unlucky" bounces and misses that happened to the Ducks - something that takes the air out of argument that luck is why Caps are losing.)

Then, the tell-all 3rd period. They expressed surprise how the Caps suddenly looked flat. Ducks took control, not physically, but by better puck control - and it was pretty. Many times, I thought they (Ducks) were going to turn puck over, only to keep with deft skating and stick handling.

Best for last - They both expressed amazement that BB was keeping Ovie off the ice when Getzlaf was on. They said that makes (Coach Randy) Carlyle's job easier - just keep Getzlaf out there as much as possible.

As a result, Getzlaf's GWG was no surprise to Anaheim viewers. And it certainly wasn't viewed as "lucky."

Posted by: OccasionalCritic | December 16, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I was listening to the game on the Caps radio network driving up to Boston, and I heard a lot of Ducks' possession. I did not hear much Caps possession. It sounded like the Caps kept pressing for the breakout whereas the Ducks played a patient game waiting for their chances down low. I have a very bad feeling that the Bruins are going to spank the Caps with a truly top notch goalie and defense.

The only positive I saw was Laich playing with heart and getting one and almost two garbage goals. OV and Backis seemed to be trying for more sniper shots. Oh, the PP sounded like long range sniping again without much net traffic.

Can BigBaby in 2010, before it's too late

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 16, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Another excuse:

(Ducks goalie) Hiller's new mask intimidated Caps forwards.

(See mask and discussion at http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Stare-into-the-dark-abyss-of-Jonas-Hiller-s-murd?urn=nhl-272685)

Posted by: OccasionalCritic | December 16, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Bye Bye BB

Posted by: DCFanatic | December 16, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Caps' problems are all coming to light during this streak - not tough/mean enough; too inexperienced in net; ineffective D corps; no enforcer that scares anyone (letting Brashear go was a mistake). Hopefully, all this will be dealt with before the playoffs (although the Caps' needs will be hard to fill, re: Hannan trade, which looks like a bust so far)), or this may be a lost season leading to big changes (probably new coach). I thought they'd come out tougher after last year. Is Ovie hurt?

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 16, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Is there a chapter in Ted's "How to be Happy" book about dealing with hockey fan depression? Are you happy these days, Ted, with the performance of the Wiz/Caps? Or, are you now high above us sports fans in your world of Indie Films, which no one watches other than yourself.

I was at the game last night...the whole joint just had a funereal feel to it all night long.

It will be a struggle for the Caps to make the playoffs this year.

Posted by: hockeypuck2 | December 16, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I am a Caps fan. Sux being a Caps fan. I think I'll become an Islanders fan. Can't be any worse.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | December 16, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Vermont - Thanks for your all knowing assessment of the Caps, one thing though, the reason BB couldn't work King into the lineup is that he is on IR and is not eligible to return until Saturday.

OcasionalCritic - don't get your point, you say the Duck annoucers were surprised Ovi wasn't on with Getzlaf so his GWG was no surprise, but Ovi was on the ice when he scored. It makes BB look smarter, when Ovi is not on w/Getzlaf he doesn't score,when he is on the ice he does. Sounds like you are just trying to bash BB.

Posted by: ds_kelly | December 16, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@ds-kelly

Just reporting what I saw and heard on Anaheim feed.

Bashing? No. Frustrated? You bet. Especially when 1st Anaheim goal was tick-tack affair between two Ducks standing in front of Varly and behind two Caps D facing the other way.

Posted by: OccasionalCritic | December 16, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I say go back to what works get neuvirth back in the net for a few games. People will hate this comment but put sloan in the lineup over hannan guy is -8 in 7 games. BB isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Just got to get back to basics. Its not a coaches fault we are losing.

Posted by: vaporboy12 | December 16, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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