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Caps open the season with a 4-2 loss to Atlanta

One of the bright spots for the Capitals in an ugly -- and admittedly strange -- 4-2 loss to Atlanta was the play of goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

He stopped 27 of 31 shots he faced, but of the four goals allowed, two came on deflections. The Thrashers' second tally was a shot from the point by Johnny Odouya that ricocheted off of Andrew Ladd's stick, and the fourth hit a Capitals defenseman and found its way into the top-left corner.

Coach Bruce Boudreau and Capitals players credited Neuvirth with keeping it a close game, which he did at several junctures with strong saves, including a pair he made less than a minute apart on Nik Antropov and Dustin Byfuglien early in the second period.

"I thought he held us in the game," Boudreau said. "He made the big save when he had to make the big save. I wasn't unhappy with his work at all."

"I think they had a number of 4-on-2s against us that we could have stopped. That's just asking too much of our goaltender," Mike Knuble said. "Even with how many goals they did get, it seemed like they had other chances where they should have scored but they didn't because of Neuvy. I think he had to work harder than [Chris Mason], that's for sure, even though the shots wound up about the same."

It was a particularly uncanny game for Neuvirth though, who is friends with Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who lost consciousness early in the game. Pavelec was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital, according to a Thrashers news release, where he eventually regained consciousness.

By the end of the second period, Pavelec was "awake, alert and asking about the score of the game," the team said.

"He's a good friend of mine. It was a really scary moment," Neuvirth said. "I was maybe thinking about what had happened too much, but I was also trying to stay focused and get back to playing my game."

--The Capitals went 0-for-3 on the power play tonight, making them 1-for-36 dating back to last year's playoff series against Montreal.

--The opposite side of that equation is that the Capitals didn't allow any power-play goals, either, with a perfect effort on three penalty kills against the Thrashers. David Steckel (3:16) and Matt Hendricks (3:06) led the team in shorthanded time on ice.

--I'm attending the wedding of one of my lifelong best friends tomorrow, and unfortunately will miss the home opener but will be back for Monday's game against the Senators. So get ready for the Tarik El-Bashir reunion tour, beginning from KCI tomorrow morning.

By Katie Carrera  | October 8, 2010; 11:57 PM ET
Categories:  Atlanta Thrashers, Michal Neuvirth  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec collapses during first period
Next: Michal Neuvirth appears set to start tonight


Nothing like a stinker on opening night. Luckily there are still 81 more to go.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | October 9, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Do you think Tarek and Neuvy will get in a fight?

The Caps looked terrible. Stay angry.... really? They didn't look angry. They looked disinterested.

Posted by: will111 | October 9, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Is somebody on vacation? Where are the player reactions from the top players? Tarik would've had several posts of comments by now.

This team should be called out for such an embaressing performance against a lowly, pathetic ATL team.

Posted by: BigGameSid | October 9, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

This is a much improved ATL team, not even considering last night's game.

They have some front line talent up front and on defense and a nice mix of role players.

They aren't likely winning a cup but they definitely have a shot at the playoffs and they'll give a lot of teams trouble, including your's and Katie Carerra's Penguins.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 9, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind the lose, I mind the lack of passion. They had to wait 6 months after that humiliating Montreal series and this is how they show up? Brutal.

Posted by: will111 | October 9, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

How embarrassing! Choke the middle and the Caps wilt. Jeez, how predictable was that after the ending last year? I passed on season tickets this year, thankfully. Let’s go…. Uh… Pens? Fire no cups today!

Posted by: festus75 | October 9, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

its DC and they don't get columbus day off - i'm sure they were looking for a 3 day weekend. i wouldn't expect much tomorrow either

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 9, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

This team may still be young but they are far removed from being that up-and-coming team that had nothing to lose and played with that mentality.

They need to turn to being a smarter, more disciplined hockey team that shows that they've learned from their experiences - bad and good.

That's what I hope to see one way or the other as this season progresses... less of the carefree Caps and more of a matured, more complete hockey team.

McPhee did nothing to help facilitate that from the outside so it'll have to come from within in addition to any tweaks McPhee makes at the deadline (only so much he can do now that he accomplished nothing in that area during the offseason).

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 9, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Yup I agree lets call it a season...sell our season tickets on Craigslist and find a new team to cheer on...

Seriously folks it was just one game... I think some of you get more excited when the Caps lose. Methinks the team will be just fine... I predict a Hattie by Backstrom tomorrow.

Posted by: allCAPS | October 9, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse


Love your enthusiasm.

I don't mean to make too much from one game, I'm just a little disheartened by their effort, not the outcome. What happened to stay angry? They didn't look angry, they looked bored.

Posted by: will111 | October 9, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

I think we'll see some passion tomorrow night. The Pavelec thing gave the game a weird feeling.

Posted by: allCAPS | October 9, 2010 1:58 AM | Report abuse

Just like the Caps your effort up until now has been weak. Give the Caps Beat to someone who cares.

Posted by: Willy6 | October 9, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me how many idiots there are on the internet. Are you guys really stressing over an opening night road loss that was interrupted by a guy collapsing on the ice? To make it worse, the guys stressing over the loss would have been the same ones who were discounting the win if the Caps had pulled it out.

Posted by: ouvan59 | October 9, 2010 2:52 AM | Report abuse

Ummm.....the opposing goalie collapsing is no excuse for the Caps performance. With the Exception of Neuvie, its the Thrashers who could have used that excuse but obviously didn't need to.

I am a a little concerned for this team. For a leader they have a guy who says he didn't think about hockey this summer and frankly it shows. OV looks out of shape. Maybe Brooks would make a better captain.

I think teams are figuring out how to slow OV down, especially after watching the Montreal series. Not to say he won't score goals but I think his numbers take a significant hit this year. A lot hinges on the second and third line and on learning to play defense. If you can't wildly outscore people you better learn to play defense.

Posted by: congero | October 9, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

If you can't wildly outscore people you better learn to play defense.

defense, what defense. oh, and there's always some ass telling folks what to do

ouvan59 = idiot ass

Posted by: hessone | October 9, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Bruce ain't the guy... Two years ago the team took nights off. Last year it fell behind games by 2 goals (only to catch up and when most of them until the playoffs). All we've heard is stay angry, blah blah. Just as Hanlon could do no more, Bruce can do no more. He got them here. He can't get them farther. He can't get this team up and ready at the starts of games, seasons, playoffs. We've seen this movie, Ted. The boat sinks.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | October 9, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

BB plays the guys he has. It is only one game, but the same problems we had in the playoffs have not gone away. McPhee's team is soft.

Flash is a train wreck.

Posted by: underpants2 | October 9, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

I hope the Caps win tonight because I can't read anymore doom and gloom. Hockey seasons are loong. If you stress over every loss, you'll drive yourself crazy. What if this team doesn't peak until Dec./Jan.? Let's go CAPS!!

Posted by: nicety251 | October 9, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

It was a bad game, but it was one game.

The regular season is our "playoff practice", if we are going to lay eggs, now is the time to do that.

This team has a ways to go in many respects, but it also could be on the cusp of something great.

82 games people, standby.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | October 9, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

It was a crappy game...ATL played well... the only thing I will give to the Caps is that they were playing their opener away against a team with a new coach to impress and their goalie went down. The lack of cohesion and focus was VERY disapointing...esp. the top line. That was the first game...some people need a chill pill and I personally wouldn't mind if the team didn't peak until later in the season.

Posted by: capscoach | October 9, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Thank GOD Tarik is back. Maybe we'll get some good updates now.

Posted by: oviewanknows | October 9, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Even if the Capitals win tonight, the question will still be how they win it. If they win 4-1 or 2-0, and do it consistently through out the season, then this team has truly learned from the past and is ready for the playoffs. But if the scores are still going to be 5-4 wins or 2-4 losses every night then you can just stop any Stanley Cup run talk right now. Remember, Pittsburgh had to fire a coach mid-season who took them to the Stanley Cup Finals the previous year, tweaked the existing offense and barely made the playoffs as a 4th seed in 2008 before they learned how to truly win. The Capitals at the time and talent to make similar decisions this year. Good luck Bruce Boudreau, or else move aside and let some one else inspire these Capitals.

Posted by: JohnWWW | October 9, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I was surprised with how bad they played last night. So disorganized. OV turned the puck over at least half a dozen times, just like last year. Of course, Atlanta was "winning one for the gipper" with their goalie passing out, but still, thats just an excuse. They should have pounded the Thrashers.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | October 9, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

tmac@yao the basketball fan posted:

OK, got a chance to see the replay on the 4th goal.

I had Hendricks and Semin confused (28 vs 26).

Off the face-off, Hendricks skated in towards the dot trying to get the puck. He didn't come out with it and in the process, lost track of his man, Modin, who circled back around toward the slot.

The puck ended up on Antropov's stick and Alzner poke-checked it away. He maybe could've tried to send it across the ice towards the far boards but it was bang-bang and he couldn't do nothing.

Meanwhile, Modin was now unmarked right in the slot. Hendricks should've been on him. Nothing wrong with trying to win the puck off the face-off but you have to stay aware of your mark in the process while in the D-zone.

I put the play largely on Hendricks but Alzner could've tried to send the puck somewhere else despite not having much time to react. Antropov was almost in a shooting position and Alzner did pretty well just to be right on him and poke away the puck. If Hendricks is in position, it never gets to Antropov and probably ends up on Semin's stick to clear the zone.

Really tmac? In your expert analysis you didn't notice that Alzner attempted to block the shot, got a piece of it with his left leg (between his knee and ankle), which caused it to go to the upper right corner? Nuevy was correctly positioned for a non-deflected shot, and you can't really hound Alzner for trying to block a shot.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 9, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Hay all you party people this is the one and only Lewis Black under a complete different name laugh dam it .. .. .. laugh dam it .. .. ! I recall the openning game was a ask kicking given to the bruins a 5=1 kicking last season the 2009 kick off. This match was not what we wanted to see. Last season loss's all 15 of them was hard to take . This season my friends may just be the same 15-18 I predict.

Our coach needs to get off his big fat hairy ask and get this team going . I say he is the reason and why that we could look so bad at times.I also hope these guys come in here and read these blog postings .


We should not panic people . This team will get it going . And from reading all these post I can see you will react this way another 14 times this season . By the way McFee will make that move to tighten up our blue line .

Posted by: terryreece | October 9, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Not a good start. Giving up 4 goals to ATL? GMGM didn't address the blueline or grit issues (didn't do anything really). So, we'll have to wait and see how this plays out. BB has to do what he can with a defense made up of inexperienced youth and mediocre veterans and unproven goaltending. Fans should get used to this kind of game. When the Caps run into a sound defensive team... they lose.

Posted by: mdmtnbiker | October 9, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Struggling with the fact I waited 5 months for THAT. Not panicking, because I saw a few good things mixed in. Very few penalties taken at least. Neuvy could hardly be faulted for any of the goals, and I think he's going to eventually be a top tier goalie.

What worries me more is whether or not the league has caught on to the Caps. Coaches watch tape and they watched MTL throttle us in the playoffs. You have to have the ability to get ugly goals, they can't all be artistic visions. Pay the price in front, and reap the reward. Not nearly enough guys on this team willing to do that.

ATL is definitely better, and they played inspired. Can't say the same for our boys.

Posted by: rnscaps | October 9, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I realize it's one game, but the most surprising thing from last night was simply the very casual demeanor from the team. Overconfidence or trying to be too fancy vs. hard working. I think that's what bothers me most.

Posted by: Jaymagz | October 9, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I realize it's one game, but the most surprising thing from last night was simply the very casual demeanor from the team. Overconfidence or trying to be too fancy vs. hard working. I think that's what bothers me most.

Posted by: Jaymagz | October 9, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

My god it's one game, the team played bad its going to happen. Yes it sucked but who cares, move on 81 more games to go... Idiot bandwagon fans!!

Posted by: CapsBaby | October 9, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Division will not be a cake walk this year. It looks like Atlanta's team was built to give us problems. They hit OV every chance they got.

In the offseason, we needed to swap some of our skill for grit and veteran leadership. We still need to do that.

Posted by: underpants2 | October 9, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

*passes out the tissues* Boo-hoo-hoo! The Caps lost! Boo-hoo-hoo! The season is over! Boo-hoo-hoo! Fire everyone! Boo-hoo-hoo! The end is nigh! Boo-hoo-hoo!

Seriously, dry your eyes whiners! Be happy that teams in the Southeast made moves to improve themselves and will provide better competition this season. If anything, a few more tough games against divisional foes (and yes, a few more losses) may be a good dose of medicine for our beloved Caps.

Anyway, 1/82 of the season is over, so 81/82 is left, and you people already have a run on boxes of tissues?!?!?!? Boo-hoo-hoo!!!!

Posted by: YouAreABigWhiner | October 9, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Anyway, 1/82 of the season is over, so 81/82 is left, and you people already have a run on boxes of tissues?!?!?!? Boo-hoo-hoo!!!!" - YouAreABigWhiner

LOL. And don't forget these are the same people who claim these games are meaningless.

Posted by: hock1 | October 9, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The PP is terrible. Green needs to be moved for the time being, put Carlson out there on PP1.

I can't believe after last years playoff disgrace, Semin and Flash are both still on the team.

It is only one game, but the stench of failure from the playoffs still lingers.

Posted by: underpants2 | October 9, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Montreal series ended in April. Geez! After all the talk about lessons learned, and they come out like that? Sure, it's only one game, but it was the first game after an embarrassing playoff loss. Bad turnovers on the PP, taking bad shots instead of waiting to set up plays, bad pinches by the D (Erskine? Really?) and Ovi and Green playing 23 and 27 minutes respectively. Where's the change? Looks like the same ole Caps to me.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 9, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

LOL. And don't forget these are the same people who claim these games are meaningless. Posted by: hock1
WINNING in the regular season doesn't mean anything. I would have been just as disappointed if Ovi had a hattrick in the 3rd for the win. It's been proven time and again that they can't win in the playoffs like that. To my eyes, their play looked no different than the last few seasons.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 9, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

My god it's one game, the team played bad its going to happen. Yes it sucked but who cares, move on 81 more games to go... Idiot bandwagon fans!!

Posted by: CapsBaby | October 9, 2010 9:56 AM |

You cry like a baby. read the post above you're the idiot, ass lips.

one game it was ass lips, but folks that tell it like it is usually get criticized for their thoughts from moron's like you. I thought they sucked.

Posted by: hessone | October 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I don't pin this one on the D (Mike Green excluded) as much as forwards playing poor D. There were too many odd man breakouts for Atlanta. SOS but if you can't score more goals it's not going to work. I don't mind Green pinching or carrying the puck into the zone but he needs to get back in position faster. OV seems a little out of shape and could stand to shed some pounds. Hopefully he turns that around as the season progresses but as he gets older the nonchalant offseason attitude will work less and less.

Call it gloom and doom but this looked a lot like a continuation of the Montreal series and a disturbing trend. Best case scenario, the tougher division competition allows us to address our REAL weakness and become a better team. Worst case, teams learned from Montreal how to shut us down ( it wasn't just the hot goalie people!) and we are in for a bit of an extended struggle.

Thats said, there is plenty of time to get stronger and address the weaknesses, but sticking your head in the sand and pretending these are not real issues seems like denial.

Posted by: congero | October 9, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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