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Caps 4, Thrashers 3

Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Caps collect two points, but an uneven effort leaves Coach Bruce Boudreau fuming afterward.

Well, it happened yet again. Before a paltry crowd tonight at Philips Arena, the Caps went up 3-0 on the Ilya Kovalchuk-less Thrashers, then inexplicably let up late in the second period.

While it didn't cost them against Atlanta, a similar effort wouldn't have been good enough against a better team. It won't be good enough in February and March as teams jockey for playoff seeding. And it most certainly won't be good enough in the playoffs.

Boudreau recognizes this. Hence the scowl and strong words.

Check out what Boudreau, Brian Pothier and Alex Ovechkin had to say about the third-period letdown in my gamer here -- the words "killer instinct" are mentioned -- and then come on back for a few notes that didn't make the cut:

*Zach Bogosian's second goal of the game came with less than a second remaining. I can only assume that time was not put back on the clock because the officials decided it wouldn't have mattered.

*When Boudreau spoke about lacking a "killer instinct" and playing "way too casual" with the lead, he wasn't only referring to lax defensive zone coverage. He was also referring to a some near misses in the offensive zone. In addition, Alexander Semin missing a couple of chances, the Capitals failed to convert a 3-on-1 with Ovechkin, Semin and Nicklas Backstrom midway through the third period because the trio decided to go for a highlight-reel goal. Boudreau said some really bad words on the bench after that one.

"We had opportunities, but it was like la-dee-da," Boudreau said. "Instead of making it 4-0 or 5-0 and letting them go home with their tail between their legs, now we're battling."

*Backstrom had a beautiful pass to spring Ovechkin on a breakaway that resulted in a goal. But the young center struggled again in the faceoff circle, winning just 29-percent of his 14 draws. David Steckel, on the other end of the spectrum shined again, winning 72 percent of his 18 draws.

*In his return from IR, Tomas Fleischmann told me after the game that he felt better than he had anticipated. He skated 16:07, including 3:21 on the power play. He took three shots on goal and narrowly missed on one of them.

"Every shift I felt more comfortable on the ice," he said. "He made one really good save on me. I should have scored that one. It will go in eventually."

*Eric Fehr (ribs) said he's still sore and isn't sure when he'll be able to return. Until then, it appears that defenseman-turned-forward Tyler Sloan will continue to fill in on the wing.

*Maybe it's a good thing the Caps don't have much time to think about this one. They're right back in action tomorrow night against the Islanders at Verizon Center.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 29, 2009; 11:28 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tonight's lineup: Caps at Thrashers (Updated)
Next: Morning roundup: Six in a row


Yup. We need......The Trap.

Posted by: large23220 | October 30, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Until the Caps learn to put teams away, We will always hear how we will never win the Cup... And to a point that is true.. We are not 1 player away from a cup we are just 1 part of game from winning the Cup. Im confident that they will get this straighted out before the playoffs hit.

Posted by: darrylrbaker | October 30, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

I guess we can call it a very ugly 6 game winning streak. Yes, somehow we are winning, so we must be doing something right.

At least we're hanging on to win.

The Caps are probably the only team whose fans do hang wringing when the team's winning. (I do hope they can solve their problems by playoff time.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 30, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

But instead of clamping down, it seemed like some of the Capitals decided to give themselves the rest of the night off.

"I thought with about seven minutes to go in the second period, we thought this was going to be easy," Boudreau said. "And then we stopped skating and stopped playing. But I knew once they got one goal, just like last time, they would be flying. It's not like a faucet. You can't turn it on and off when you want."

this is getting laughable now. Broken record. Same postgame comments every time this team lets up. Then Bruce mentions about his stern talking-to. Come on already, nothing Bruce has or will say looks like it'll make any difference because he refuses to follow up his stern words with any actions. This team doesn't fear him one bit. You could tell even Ovechkin sounds tired about the same ole same ole letdowns.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 30, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

haha call me crazy, but I don't care...we won and Varly got to increase his save percentage. haha sorry but Im not all that concerned that we give up in the 3rd, I know when it really counts, like against great teams or further down the road, we won't do it. WOOO WIN!!!

Posted by: capsfan387 | October 30, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Just finished watching this one as I had to watch it on delay. Boy, did the Caps screw me in my fantasy league tonight. Varlamov, who's on my team looked like cruising to a shutout when we completely stopped playing and he somehow ends up with 3 goals against including that damn last second goal that had to be reviewed! On top of that this 3rd goal makes Knuble's empty netter into a game winner and guess what... Knuble is on my opponent's team and game winners are a whole category in our league. Urggghhh.

It really is amazing how a team that dominated the game and was cruising at 3-0 could end up with 3 goals against and that's despite getting great goaltending. Varlamov was spectacular tonight and gifted us this win. Yes, it sounds very strange since he let in 3, but it's true. The Caps just left him out to dry in the 3rd period.

Posted by: ranndino | October 30, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Ditto, it is a coaching issue. BB needs to start getting the boys on board with his demands or play the guys that will keep the foot on the gas for the full 60.
You can't play Brads and Stecks for the remaining 10 mins of every game unfortunately, but give the guys who play every shift like it was their last the ice time they deserve and I'm sure you'll see a change.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | October 30, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Read some silly comments about the trap in the previous thread. We don't need the trap and it's a whole different way to play the game. You can't just turn it on when you want to. This is not a video game where you can pause it and change settings.

What we need to do is just not get sloppy and try to score highlight reel goals after we go up by 3. The 3 goal lead is not what it used to be in today's wide open NHL. Teams come back from 3 goals down all the time now, which is great because it makes the game much more exciting. However, the players still have the mentality that a 3-goal lead is safe. They need to get that notion out of their heads. It's not. Not with the new rules. Just ask Calgary. They were up 5-0 against Chicago earlier this year and ended up losing. I love today's NHL because as soon as one team relaxes and the other one turns it on the game can turn on its head.

Our players just need to remember that and stop taking 3rd period vacations. If I were Varly I'd throw a tantrum in the locker room after the game. He deserved a shutout today and instead had to stand on his head just to get a win.

Posted by: ranndino | October 30, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

I guess everyone would rather they play their best and hardest hockey now and blow it in the playoffs. That would make everyone in here happy right? Six game streak... October... injuries... it ain't so bad guys, jeez.

Posted by: Chad8 | October 30, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Atlanta is the 4th highest scoring team in the league (perhaps from playing us twice) but still we should have beaten them worse and given Varly better numbers.

I feel like we miss Boyd Gordon quite a bit. He tends to settle down some of that 3rd period deuce dropping.

Posted by: Redskinnerton | October 30, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

A win is a win. Yeah, the boys didn't look good in the third, but it is still October. There is still a lot of hockey left in the season, this week even, and we can't expect the boys to play at 10 every game. Besides, the Caps aren't the only team that lets up, so I'm not worried just yet.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 30, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Last thing I wanted to mention. Does NHL pad attendance stats? This game resembled a high school game in terms of attendance. Parents only. The official attendance says over 12,000. No way in hell!

The building was completely empty. It was really sad to see actually. If people in Atlanta don't give a crap even when Ovechkin comes to town maybe they really shouldn't have a team there. They don't care much that they have Kovy either. A team with Kovalchuk on its roster would sell out every night in Canada.

Posted by: ranndino | October 30, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Even though Kovy was out tonight, following the show they got a week ago you'd figure a lot more wouldv'e been there. Locker even joked about that one errant puck safe from hitting anyone in the 40th row! Yikes. Maybe the super cheap seats were sold out eh? The lower level looked pretty scarce...

Posted by: Chad8 | October 30, 2009 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Chad, I'm with you, but I also have to start leaning towards the crowd thats not so happy with the team's performance tonight. I was stuck in my cost accounting class wanting to jam pencils in my ears, then I get a text telling me the caps are up 2-0 only to get in the car turn on the radio and hear the final outcome. Yea the team is winning, which is great, but these trends, and habits are no good at all. These are the same things we saw last year that killed our momentum going into, and to some extent. in the the playoffs. With a team that can be as good as we've seen them be, playing this way against teams we should be beating doesn't offer a whole lot to be happy about (yes I'm spoiled on winning).

Posted by: superpaqman | October 30, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse


what they mean by "attendance" is the number of seats that were paid for. A lot of people with season tickets just miss games. Especially the corporate types that buy up so many of the seats anymore.

A few hundred Coke/CNN/Home Depot/Delta suits were just too busy counting beans to watch their sorry team get beat again.

Posted by: large23220 | October 30, 2009 2:25 AM | Report abuse

Anyone on this board ever work in the food service industry? I did for several years, waiting on tables and bartending. A constant phenomenon that I observed was that on a busy night, productivity was at an all time high and mistakes were few, but on slow nights, mistakes were made all over the place. Dinners came out from the kitchen slowly, orders were mixed up, people had to wait too long for checks, etc etc. There's something about being kept on ones' toes that brings out the best in people.

The trick for Caps is to stop letting the psychology of the game work against them. They have to learn that being the underdog is no longer the case with them, and even when they're playing a team that seems to make it a "slow night" for them, they can't let up for a second (see very last second of the game last night!)

All you Boudreau bashers on this board---wow. The guy has a firm grasp of the situation and is frustrated. At least he doesn't sugar coat things to the press. I'm glad he is the coach and not people who want to make players sit out long stretches of the game to show them who's boss. The stats will do that for them, it's up to BB and the team captains/leaders to keep the team on track.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 30, 2009 5:21 AM | Report abuse


Good post. Yes, Boudreau has a good grasp of the situation.


Good perpective. I recall last year how the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins looked so great early. We all know what happened to them in the playoffs. Sharks -- dumped in Round 1. Bruins -- dumped in Round 2, the same as us.

As for the boys in third period. There were way too many shots taken against us during the early part. If they (Atlanta) has 5 whacks at the shot, of course, they'll eventually score.

At least we were getting some shots. Tommy and Sasha were shooting -- just not getting anything in.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 30, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Going to my first Caps game tonight! Stoked!

Posted by: TotallyTacos | October 30, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that Flash looked a lot more dangerous than anyone else has on the third line. He and Aucoin could cause teams problems.

Posted by: Searchingforstanley | October 30, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Flash did look good last night - probably running on adrenaline. It'll be interesting to see if he has legs tonight.

Posted by: ShutDownStud | October 30, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Not to sound like a broken record, but good god, can Mike Green play a little defense occasionally.

Again he got caught up at the hashmarks on the Thrash's second goal. The pass went right by him and sprung the breakaway. He made an effort to get back, but the guy was too far gone already.

And really, that was only one of the many breakaways Atl had, thankfully Varly was on top of his game.

Posted by: hackeynut | October 30, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

It's great to be 8-2-2 when you cant play a full 60 minutes of hockey.

It's like winning blackjack with your eye's closed...

You get the cash, but smile and laugh about it all the way to the bank.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 30, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Not worried. 8-2-2 and second place in the conference two points out of first...all in October. This team definitely plays down to the competition and quite frankly it was better game once Atlanta woke up. If the Caps went up by 4 or 5 goals it would have been a total yawner.

Posted by: meagle | October 30, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

OH NO the Caps only won by 1 goal!! OH NO only six wins in a row and only 18 out of a possible 24 points earned!!! OH NO Ovie leads the league in goals...OH NO its almost November... OH NO Bruce doesnt know how to handle his team...too busy pushing his book and polishing his Jack Adams award. OH NO Schultz point stread ended at three games....OH NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Posted by: ChickenLittleCapsFan | October 30, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I feel like we miss Boyd Gordon quite a bit. He tends to settle down some of that 3rd period deuce dropping.

Posted by: Redskinnerton | October 30, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, we miss him 6-0-0 w/o him 2-2-2 w/ him. Give me Keith Aucoin over him everytime. Aucoin has been a real sparkplug in my opinion. Faceoffs just need centers bearing down. Backstrom and Morrison's technique could be tweaked with better results. If you watch Backis and he is my favorite player, when he stands upright and tries to win a stick battle he loses. His wins often occur when he ties up physically with the other center and kicks the puck back with his skate.

Posted by: opus1m | October 30, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, when you put it like that, there is certainly cause for alarm. OH NO!

Posted by: TotallyTacos | October 30, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

@DC citizen........yep. I ran a very large banquet department for years. I was never to worried about the party for 400 or 500, it was always the meeting for 6 people the next morning that got messed up..

Posted by: RichC3 | October 30, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse


Hah! You make a good point. We are doing things right as far as "The Only Stat That Counts", but I think we're just focusing on mechanics. But watching the team just kinda let its guard down during the second half of the game warrants the concern.

See you guys in 412 tonight!

Posted by: EddieP1 | October 30, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

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