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Posted at 11:55 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Capitals shut out for third time in 11 games, lose 3-0 to Panthers

By Katie Carrera

There are few occasions where one would imagine that the Washington Capitals, who have owned one of the top two power plays in the NHL each of the past two seasons, would go 0 for 8 in a single contest. But that's exactly what happened Thursday and it was a significant reason why the Panthers were able to walk away from Verizon Center with a 3-0 win.

Washington dropped its fourth straight, its longest losing-streak of the season. Granted, Florida entered this contest with the 11th best penalty kill in the league and has now thwarted 84.8 percent (73 of 86) of opposing power plays, but the Capitals were getting good chances early.

When those initial opportunities didn't find their way across the goal line, the Capitals' frustration showed in the way of many players tried to shoulder the burden of scoring a power-play goal alone.

"The intentions were good at the beginning," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Then when you don't score on the power play when you have the opportunity -- you could see at the end of the first period that we started to do things as individuals instead of collectively. When that happens it's tough, but it's no excuse."

Mike Knuble suggested that the Capitals were never comfortable with the simple, tight-checking game that the Panthers were playing and that compounded with their ineptitude on the power play. Washington's offense didn't look much better at even strength either, though, and it was hard to find an area that wasn't frustrating for the Capitals.

"It kind of comes with not being comfortable playing in tight games and getting antsy and that's how it's going to be," Knuble said of the off-kilter offense. "We've been doing teams a lot of favors lately, letting them pull out of slumps and helping teams feel good about themselves and it's getting, frankly, pretty tiring. We're supposed to be a top team and we're letting teams come in and feel good about themselves."

--This was just the third time this season the Capitals have had more than five power-play chances in a game. Both other times were against the Flyers, and Washington scored at least twice in both games, going 2 for 6 on Nov. 7 and 3 for 7 on Nov. 20.

--Michael Frolik's goal with one second remaining in the second period all but erased the memory of the Capitals' penalty kill -- including 1:18 of a five-on-three -- in the waning minutes of that frame.

Semyon Varlamov made six saves during that penalty kill and the Capitals, without Scott Hannan and John Erskine, managed to use diving poke checks or break up passes to prevent more. Washington killed five of six penalties against the Panthers and is 26 for 29 (89.7 percent) in the past seven games.

--Boudreau singled out all of the Capitals' main offensive weapons by name: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and usual secondary contributors Brooks Laich and Knuble.

None of those six players has more than two points during this four-game losing streak and several have scoring slumps going much further back than Dec. 2 against Dallas. I'll have more on that tomorrow.

"My thoughts were our top six forwards weren't very good," Boudreau said. "Quite frankly, if your best players aren't your best players... you're not going to have success....You have to get production out of your best players and it's not happening right now."

The Capitals are scheduled to practice at 11 a.m. at KCI, where Boudreau said they will spend some time working on the power play among other things.

By Katie Carrera  | December 9, 2010; 11:55 PM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Florida Panthers, Mike Knuble  
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Next: Caps dealing with adversity after fourth straight loss

Comments

Who wants to join Boudreau, Hanlon and Cassidy for a free round of golf next week at Hilton Head - courtesy of the Washington Capitals.

Has Bruce lost this team?

Posted by: puckman | December 10, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Knuble said the team is not comfortable playing tight games. You mean like against Montreal. It shows. They need to start punishing people. The team does not play tough old school hockey with an attitude. I love this team but where is the anger we were promised by Ted. Frankly I do not care if the Caps win (Of course I love it when they do) but I want to watch them work hard and compete.

Posted by: pkme | December 10, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

@pkme. While those other teams did not have the straight scoring depth but the 98 team had 3 players hit 1000 points in the same season and had a goalie play out of his mind in the playoffs. The second furthest team was the 90 team that went to the conference finals with a team that had 5 20+ goal scorers only two less then last year but on defense they had Rod Langway, Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, Calle Johansson, and Bob Rouse. Two Hall of Famers, and three other players who ended up playing over 1000 games. So while the offensive depth was less the defensive depth was much more, which is why those teams played a different style was the players the coaches had. It is compairing apples and oranges but the point is the older teams had plenty of depth it just was all scoring depth like this team has.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 10, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Horrific game! I had this awful feeling that when they had a lot of shots on goal and lots of PP's in first period and had no goals, that they would lose. And that if Florida scored first, they would win.

Next question: Do the Caps have any forward who's dinged up and playing through an injury? If so, I propose putting then on injured reserve so they can call a guy from Hershey in his place. And the new guy could bring in energy and play hard since they got nothing to lose.

Give our injured guy a rest. Granted, the guy could normally play or, at most, sit out one game. But maybe giving one of our guys a three day break to fully recover and putting a Hershey guy in his place is something that should be done.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 10, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

i hope they can break their slump tonight - i wouldn't want to see a run on goats blood - there's already a shortage as it is

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 9, 2010 6:51 PM

my bad - there seems to be an abundance of the stuff. sooner or later it will run out - and goats will be extinct (like if the caps lose another 2 in a row)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 10, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, as we all witnessed, the Caps came out and played "Playoff Hockey."

Shots from the perimeter; no net traffic; other team allowed to clog the slot.

The last time the Caps looked this bad, Hanlon was behind the bench.

I've been following sports religiously (and I mean it, since I never go to church) for 45 years. One thing I can always tell and it's true right now.

Boudreau needs to leave. As in, right this minute, before the next game.

Forget those other names. Go get Larry Robinson from the Devils. Maybe he can bring Langway back into the fold too.

Semin was awful. Ovechkin was hardly any better.

I pointed out the day after Carolina, leave Ovi at RW and Semin at LW. Instead we get what we've got, Ovi on left point for eight failed power plays.

The sickening feeling in my stomach is almost but not quite as bad as when...Jagr was on the team.

I was thinking during the game...there are 29 other head coaches in the NHL and right now any of them could do better with this collection of talent than Boudreau.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 10, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

I am not a regular poster here or anywhere else either. I normally will post just to poke fun at a couple of the doofuses that post regularly that have alot of vitriol but not much else. However, what I am seeing in the last few games is a team that is either quitting or has quit on the coach. Maybe BB can get it back but I doubt it since there really isn't any examples that I can think of where a coach gets his team back after losing them. Some names have been banteed about as a possible replacement if BB does go. However, I haven't seen one name that has already shown he can make both game to game as well as in game changes. He is currently coaching in Hershey, French. He may not be quite ready yet but as was shown last year during the Calder Cup run, he can make changes and his team played playoff hockey.

Posted by: realoldcapsfan | December 10, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Take Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom away and what you have left over is a bunch of average players. Sure, this team will win lots more games this season. But in end, it will end up like all the past three teams, disappointed early the playoffs.

Florida played us exactly like Montreal last year. Smart defensively, good goaltending, and nice penalty killing. Obviously, the Caps haven't figured it out yet.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | December 10, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

"And on Wall Street this morning, Commodities prices soared in early trading as goat's blood futures shot through the roof...meanwhile, pork bellies held firm."

You know, that was a REALLY UGLY game.

"How ugly was it, Johnny?"

"Well, ha-ha-ha, it was, ah, it was SO ugly that Nancy Pelosi's dog couldn't even watch."

Wow. I thought I'd never say this. Not in public anyway. But I'd be more confident for Saturday with joek443 behind the bench than with Boudreau.

My confidence in Boudreau has reached absolute zero. He did well to get the caps out of the "Hanlon Funk." Meanwhile his playoff record is he got outcoached three times and had a draw with Torts.

Really and truly those three girls in the copier commercials couldn't do any worse.

Larry Robinson. Say his name three times while spinning around and then click your heels. We can only hope.

Meanwhile, PhilR, pass me that goblet of goat's blood and can I get a hurry-up delivery on that black, hooded cape I ordered?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 10, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

"There are few occasions where one would imagine that the Washington Capitals, who have owned one of the top two power plays in the NHL each of the past two seasons, would go 0 for 8 in a single contest."

How about the occasion called the playoffs, where the Capitals went 1 for 30....

Posted by: Leeale | December 10, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Two words: Sports Psychologist

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 10, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

F
r
e
e

F
a
l
l

Bye bye, BB -- this team does not respond to Bruce any more. And the new coach may want to hold tryouts for captain to see who stands up as a leader, not simply best player. BB has tried to install a new system of team defense, but the team has not bought in. And the new coach can also kick out a few BB fav's and bring up some hungry kids from Hershey: Stecks for Beagle and Gordon for Gordon, to name two obvious ones.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 10, 2010 6:31 AM | Report abuse

And yes, Larry Robinson would be a vast improvement over BB. I want to see some discipline on this team. If GMGM is not looking hard through his rolodex for a new coach, he is not doing his job.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 10, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Two words: Sports Psychologist

Posted by: dccitizen1


Thank You! I have been saying this since the start of the season! We are turning into a bunch of head cases.

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

No wins since Flash was traded...

And what's up with the hands of stone: Chimera, Steckel, Fehr, Knuble - those guys can't BUY a goal. Frustrated!

Posted by: CAP-lanta | December 10, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow, four game losing streak and they're calling for BB's head. I don't know if he has or hasn't lost the team but I do know you don't fire the coach just because you've had a bad few weeks. If they don't get turned around by February then maybe, but give me a break people.

Posted by: truke | December 10, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS2

Who do you bench for a Hershey kid then? Our 4th line is playing great and thats where most Hershey players would go.


I was at the game last night...it stunk!! They were playing around with the puck and not playing like they were supposed to.

But in reality...people are over reacting. Sure we are playing like crap this week, but we were playing great this time of year last season and look where that got us! Let them slump now, face some adversity, and they can have it figured out by spring.

I am NOT for firing BB. First it is almost too late in the season, second I think the team would not respond well to it, and 3rd I don't think BB deserves it.

Just because things are not going well does not mean you automatically make a drastic change...that is letting the players off the hook and will only reinforce the idea that they are not doing anything wrong (which is horribly false)Give them a chance to work through this! A little hardship might be just what the doctor ordered for this team!

And for all the people about to post how they have been calling for BB's head b/c he can't win in playoffs...I KNOW! you have said it 5,000 times...this is called a DIFFERENT opinion :)

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Another terrific performance that was an absolute pleasure to watch......NOT! Another hot goaltender??!! It sure looks like BB has lost this team even the koolaiders have to be starting to see that!

Posted by: PhilR | December 10, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

We know it's a bad day for the Caps when you are calling for Bruce's removal.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 10, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

@Capscoach, The 4th line plays well at times, but also gets hemmed in their own zone for a while in just about every game. What I would like to see with Hershey call ups is a legit shut-down 3rd line. Stecks is too slow and does not use his size very well. Gordon is hurt too often to be a consistent center and not the right mentality for a shut-down center -- Hendricks is.
As for the coaching change -- BB has been dreadful in the playoffs and he has lost control of his team. That tells me that it's time for a coaching change to get the Caps to the next level by playing consistent defense first hockey that will win in the playoffs.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 10, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Wow...we are still near the top of the east and ppl want us to fire BB...really?? Who cares about the regular season??? As long as we get in the playoffs and make a run who cares??? I guess everyone would rather win another presidents cup trophy and get bounced from the playoffs in the first round again.

Posted by: kickass10101 | December 10, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

@kickass -- what about BB's 3 playoff seasons in the NHL makes you think he'll do any better this year? Is it all the game 7 loses (and a game 7 win over the hapless Rangers that never should have gotten to 7 games)? Is it the 2/3 first round loses? BB has lost the team. He complains they won't run his system. He enforces running a system? The coach and the captain. The captain clearly has not bought into BB's system, so why should other players? Does BB bench OV for free-lancing? Nope. BB swithces where OV plays and whom he plays with. Weak.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 10, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

tominsocal,

Your cape was submitted to UPS this morning for overnight delivery and should be to you before the next game (if at this point we can call what they are doing a game).

capscoach,

The erratic play has been a constant since the beginning of last season. How can you not hold the COACH accountable for not being able to motivate his players to play 60 minutes each game or pay the price to screen the fricking goalie??!! Those power plays were pitiful last night, why the he!! are Fehr, Laich and Knuble standing to the side of the net and then moving to the front once they get a pass to try and stuff??!! The whole idea is to get traffic in FRONT of the goaltenders face, have your pointmen take shots at the net through the SCREENED goalie and pick up loose change. BB has lost the team, I'm sorry if some can't see that. And it is not too late in the season to replace him, the Pens replaced their coach in February a couple years ago and made a huge run to the finals. This team needs a coach to kick them dead square in their rears.......period, and BB is not that coach obviously.

Posted by: PhilR | December 10, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

And BTW, you know it's getting bad when my wife tells me last night that she would rather see ME coaching this team than BB!! She actually really thought he was a great coach up until the last few games when she finally admitted that he just isn't getting the job done and seems that the players are just skating around freelance. I immediately fitted her for a nice, warm hooded cape and served her a tall goblet of goats blood.

Posted by: PhilR | December 10, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Not sure it is a coaching issue but the game night was the most uninspired game I have seen in a long time. The upside of attending the game was I didn't have to watch the coach doing birds calls on that god awful commercial. ( does that make anyone else want to sledge hammer the TV?)

Posted by: johleger | December 10, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I hate all Geico ad's, but the BB ads are the worst. His carpet ad makes even my wife want to kill the tv

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 10, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Where are all you "stat boys" who last year gauranteed a Caps Cup based on intricate formulas comprised of pp/minutes/goals/ice time/goals against/shots on goal, etc?

What do your numbers tell you this year, you great (unemployed) wizards?

Posted by: hockeypuck2 | December 10, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I request a stipulation with Comcast that after games when the Caps stink, No BB dancing in a track suit commercials are shown, please!

Thursday night is usually a good night to hit the bars. Wonder how many Caps made it out for a good time after the game?

I often wonder with professional athletes, when you get the huge contract, do you lose any of the desire for the Championship? I mean if it was me, and I was young and making big bucks, I'd be out looking for the ladies too! Unfortunately, I'm middle age, married with children, and have to live vicariously through the Caps hoping for a Stanley Cup. Having watched and been kicked in the gut since 1974, I don't know how much more I can take. Hello Johnny Walker Red!

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

I look forward to more Ameritel commercials...

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

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