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Kings Cruise, 5-2

It only took 20 rotten minutes at the start of tonight's loss in L.A. to put the brakes on all of the momentum the Caps had gained Wednesday in Anaheim. It's almost as if they didn't show up until the third period. And by then, it was pretty much too late.

*You've probably already seen the news about Mike Green. It's about as good as the Caps could have hoped for. Coach Bruce Boudreau even speculated that Green might miss only a week.

"I hope it's no more than a week," he said. "That's my guess right now."

*Boudreau called the Caps' effort in the first period "unacceptable" and Alex Ovechkin said it was the worst period of the season. They were out-shot 12-3 in the opening 20 minutes.

"They were more emotionally into the game than we were at the beginning," Boudreau said. "That's the part that is unacceptable. We were not up to standard at the beginning."

*The prevailing sentiment in the Caps' room afterward was they let two points get away on a road trip that only gets tougher from here on out, with NHL-leading San Jose on Saturday and Minnesota on Monday.

"We were kind of humbled a little bit tonight," Laich said. "That was a hockey team we should have beat. We expected better of ourselves."

*Speaking of Laich, he scored his fifth goal of the season. But he also blocked three consecutive shots ...while killing a five on three Kings' power play ...without his stick. The legend grows.

"If I'm not blocking shots, I'm pretty much useless out there," he said. "At the time it was still a pretty close hockey game."

*Brent Johnson made 28 saves in his first start in four games and said his hip never felt better. He also took the blame for the Kings' second goal, scored by Patrick O'Sullivan on an ordinary wrist shot between the pads.

"That was my goal," Johnson said. "I want that one back."

*Ovechkin's five game goal streak came to an end. He appeared to get kicked in the ear when he upended Dustin Brown late in the game (Ovechkin got an interference penalty. Go figure?) Ovechkin was given a smelling salts in the penalty box, but seemed to be fine after the game.

*There's no practice tomorrow, but I'll try to get an injury update in the early afternoon after I arrive in San Jose.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 21, 2008; 3:05 AM ET
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Next: Morning Reading List: Nylander on the Move?



Posted by: pebowers | November 21, 2008 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Just as well I didn't watch, then. I needed the sleep more than I needed to watch sloppy hockey.

But why did Johnson leave the goal when we were down by two?

Posted by: irockthered | November 21, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Oh - nevermind; that would be because I can't count before 7 AM... D'oh! We took a gamble at 3-2, and it didn't pay this time.

And what's this about Ovechkin getting kicked in the head and then getting an interference penalty for it?! Stupid referees.

Posted by: irockthered | November 21, 2008 6:59 AM | Report abuse

OV and Brown collided in front of the Kings goal. It looked like neither one was looking and Brown went down hard with skates flying in the air. I guess that is how OV got kicked in the head. It took OV a couple minutes to get up and then he went to the bench to get smelling salts. They called the penalty, but it was just that neither one was looking and probably should not have been a penalty.

Posted by: _Mark | November 21, 2008 7:05 AM | Report abuse

I really do hope that Mike is not sidelined for very long and that he will be back at full strength sooner rather than later. However, I remain cautiously optimistic.

Hope that game was just a fluke. My goodness. Why is it that we always seem to struggle against the teams we should beat? This just makes Saturday and Monday's game that much more difficult. If we hope to be a force in any postseason action we are going to have to master road games and playing with intensity every game.

I was only able to watch the first period. How did Mo do the rest of the game?

Brooks Laich is hot in more ways than one! Still think that he is Captain material.

Posted by: Kim-3 | November 21, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

But why did Johnson leave the goal when we were down by two?

Posted by: irockthered | November 21, 2008 6:50 AM
Caps had a late PP opp; might as well make it a 2 man advantage and try and get back the 1st ENG.

Posted by: Section117 | November 21, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I thought the penalty on OV was wrong. He was skating straight from the faceoff dot toward the goal. Brown came from the opposite faceoff dot (goalie's left) also toward the goal. They collided right in front of the net. OV put his hands up to prevent his path being hindered. Brown ran into the stonewall and flipped backward. Instead of interference, it should have been two minutes for being much stronger than the other player. Clearly, OV's "penalty" was much less an infraction than what Pronger did to Green. IMHO.

Laich - can't say enough. Nylander played better, more aggressive in the offensive end. Jurcina was beated badly on the goal Johnny wants back.

Fedorov - if he misses four more games, I think you enter IR territory (six so far). I am wondering from reports if Alzner would be better than Jurcina. If you get roughly $500K back from Feds on IR, you can move Jurcina and activate Alzner and it might just work with the cap. It would be nice to keep Sloan, too - he gives real value at $475K.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 21, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Also, at the very least, the Caps will activate Alzner with nine games left in the season. The cap hit would be negligible; you wouldn't burn one of his seven years before UFA; and he'd be eligible for the playoffs. If the caps cruise toward the SE title (distinctly possible), there's no reason to panic and do an unwise thing (like rush people back from injury).

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 21, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Alzner is not playing solely because of the Cap issue. I said he was better than Juice/Erskine/Schultz at the beginning on the season. He might be better than Mo.

Believe me, Sloan isn't the best defender we have in the system, he is just price right and has the most experience at his $$ amount.

Alzner is also not a prototypical S@H defensemen. I have no idea why people think that, look at his stats, look at his hits. Look who he described himself as or who he models his game after, Nick Lidstrom, who might by the best 2 way forward of 90's and 00's.

Now, I'm going to say he's Lids, but Lids certainly isn't a S@H guy.

About the game last night...

Too many horses out for us, back to back west game, no true blueline catalyst to run the show, a typical bad first period = a loss. I wasn't surprised, a lot of things working against us. We aren't going to win them all. Time to refocus and prepare for San Jose.

Posted by: JSchon | November 21, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Um, Lidstrom 2-way defender not forward.

Posted by: JSchon | November 21, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

They looked slow...exactly what I thought watching the first period.

Posted by: SuperG5 | November 21, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, last night was like the first two years after the lockout, except the Caps were the team getting caught relaxing playing a "lesser" team and the Kings were the young, gritty team that outworked people.

Posted by: koalatek | November 21, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

SOS Caps. A good road win the game before...take the next one off. It's why they can't win come PO time. Good/elite teams come to play every night. They're going to regret giving these two points away come April.

Posted by: bundy44 | November 21, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

When you factor in second game in a row, minus three key players, and a 3-2 game until we pulled the goalie, it isn't as bad as it looks. With Fedorov, Green AND Semin off the ice, we were still close. And by leaving Johnson out of the goal even after they scored the first time on an empty net - we didn't have anything to lose, and we had everything to gain.

I did not watch the game, but I am willing to bet exhaustion played a major factor. Especially with the defense. Poti had been skating for almost half the game the night before, plus, three hour timezone difference. Not easy to overcome exhaustion like that without three days to shift your timezone.

I'm not stressed about this one.

Posted by: irockthered | November 21, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Right, they are going to regret this loss... Right, the Kings loss on the back end of a 2 game set... This was crucial loss...


Posted by: JSchon | November 21, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

A moot point to talk about, but I think the game starts differently with Green in. He brings up the average speed of the team two-fold, and commands respect from other players -- there wouldn't have been nearly the kind of run-and-gun strategy from the Kings with our #1 D out there.

But I don't think the D was absolutely awful. Erskine looked pretty good and made a few good plays (though I can't remember who was on the ice and supposed to cover Brown on the 3rd goal).

I don't know what to think about Mo. I don't see how he hasn't played himself off the team, yet. He hasn't been paired with Green (when they were both healthy), and that was kinda the whole point to keeping him for this year. Last season he was solid, but this season so far he's been terrible.

Are we expecting Sasha or Feds back for tomorrow night's game?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 21, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The guys were slow from the moment they dropped the puck and ended up chasing those kings around the ice instead of the puck. Johnson was stellar in the net except for that second goal and who said that Ovie didn't score last night? OUCH!!!
We need games like this to learn, grow and focus - we won't have time to figure it out when we get to the playoffs - let's learn these lessons now and get more detemined, focused and smart on the ice! Note: LAICH?!?! he continues to step it up and just get better every game. Amazing. In the end the score doesn't fully explain the game: If we take away the power play goal and 2 empty net goals - our tired legs still gave a pretty good effort. "Good is not good enough" says it all. Moving on.

Posted by: tma28 | November 21, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

That was a tough game for the guys, before the puck was even dropped. The Kings had been off for a few days, and the CAPS played the night before. The Kings are not the same Kings as last season. As much as we would all like, they will not win every game they play, last time I checked the other teams get paid to play the games as well.

San Jose will be a tough game as well, but I think we will have a more competitive game then last night. San Jose has been off since Monday night, and we have a few injuries. Atleast we are not on the back end of a back to back against them.

Anyone have any comments about the PENS catching teams on the back end of back to back 6 or 7 times so far this season? Seems like alot so early in the year.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | November 21, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I was able to watch the first two periods of the game and was not surprised by what I saw. They looked like a team that was worn out playing against a fired up Kings squad.

Definitely not the end of the world, we were short three of our top players on the tail end of west coast back-to-back set and still kept the game competitive (although extremely ugly).

Big ups to Laich; that guy is a warrior.

Posted by: CapManJ | November 21, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Hawks scratched stopel and Byfuglien

Posted by: ohaque23 | November 21, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tarik/Katie/WaPo guys:

Thank you for removing the "Continue Reading This Post" link. I noticed it, yesterday, but completely forgot to mention anything.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 21, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Tarik...can you address the Nylander trade rumors that are growing every day?

Posted by: GoCaps08 | November 21, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

JSchon-_well said. I just checked...the sky is not falling.

The team got outworked-plain and simple. Looking forward to playing the Sharks? Emotionally and physically drained from the tuff game the night begore? Took the Kings lightly? Enjoying the SOCAL too much? Combo of all four? Lack of effort in regards to forechecking, hitting and puck battles is always the worst way to lose a game. Dismal first period effort wise. The Kings came out flying. The Caps played better as the game wore on. They started to work to their typical standards with about 10 minutes left in the third period. This sort of effort, especially with three key contributors out of the lineup, was not enough against a Kings team that I was very impressed with talent and effort wise.
Brooks was incredible on that 2 man PP the Kings had. He should have gotten the hard hat despite the team losing. It was that impressive of an individual effort.
Refocus, and get some rest and the Sharks game could be a real fun one for everyone.

Posted by: Riddler1 | November 21, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Last night's game really messed up Ovie's & Backis' +/-. They were on the ice for bothe empty netters and each ended with a -4.

Joe B

Posted by: rw-c | November 21, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention: Kozlov looked pretty good, and made an amazing pass through a defenseman's skate right onto Backstrom's stick for a goal.

Joe B

Posted by: rw-c | November 21, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't read too much into the Byfuglien scratch.. he's overweight and out of shape, so they're sitting him is what I heard on the radio. No clue about Sopel, other than the fact that he's not very easy on the eyes.

Posted by: _jordan | November 21, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse


What will the Caps think about going 6-1-2 in their last 9 games come April?

Posted by: SA-Town | November 21, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

i hate to say this, but clark continues to be the worst player on ice game in game out

Posted by: _stevo | November 21, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't think this one is all that bad. Three key guys missing on the back end of a back-to-back, where the first game was absolutely brutal. I'm much more interested in the San Jose game, and I'd be willing to bet that somewhere deep down, the team is too. You want a statement win? Take out San Jose at home. Don't think we can do it? This team is famous for taking down top teams by a peg or two and sliding on the "easy" games. I don't think a win in San Jose is out of the question at all, especially if any two of Semin, Green and/or Fedorov are ready to go.

And for my lights, if we slack on this one and take out San Jose, I'm cool with that.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 21, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

any updates on little alex semin?

Posted by: _stevo | November 21, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Caps Fans check out

Posted by: bagasome | November 21, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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