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Capitals in 'quicksand,' fall to Wild, 2-1

There isn't much good to come out of this game, one that may have been the Capitals' most disjointed of the season thus far. They looked slow, and not just because the Minnesota Wild like to bring the tempo of a game to a crawl. By the time Washington snapped out of the funk, it was too little, too late in an eventual 2-1 loss to Minnesota.

"It was a really disappointing effort, I thought, from our team for about 50 minutes. You can't play 10 minutes in this league and hope to win a game," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We can't let the other team take the game to us for the first half of the game. It looked like we were in quicksand. We weren't moving the puck. We couldn't handle the puck."

From the numerous offside calls, off-target passes, shots that found Wild players' shin pads as if they were magnetized and the lack of a forecheck, it was far from the effort the Capitals wanted after such a complete game against the Hurricanes the night before.

If you're thinking about using the back-to-back games with a decently long trip between the two to lessen the reality of this ugly game, Boudreau has that covered.

"I think we might have had a few excuses about being tired, which all it was, was an excuse," Boudreau said. "Because 18 of those 20 guys have played in the American Hockey League at some point and that's three games in three nights with a lot of busing and they've got to play. So I'm not buying any of this excuse about being fatigued emotionally or physically."

Some other quick notes and quotes from the loss:
--The Wild blocked 13 shots and the Capitals also had 18 attempts miss the net all together. At the end of the second period, although Washington had a total of 26 attempts, only 11 found their way toward Niklas Backstrom. Six were blocked and nine missed.

"They blocked a lot of shots but we've got to get them through. There's no excuse to not get them through; that's what our job is, to get them through," Jason Chimera said. "It seems like the last 10 minutes we started skating a little better better and moving our legs better and getting chances. We got the puck in deep and that's the main key. We were getting pressure and two guys were on it. You've got to get pucks deep against this team, but if you don't, you're in trouble."

--The uneven efforts continue, and when asked what's contributing to the Capitals playing to their full potential one night and woefully short of that the next, here's what Karl Alzner had to say:

"I wish I knew what the difference was, but obviously one thing, we weren't doing the chipping and chasing like we were the night before," Alzner said. "For whatever reason, I'm not too sure, but that's what we have to get back to. The team last year did that every single night -- maybe a couple nights here and there that they didn't -- and right now it seems to be going game on, game off. I don't know when, but it needs to click in."

--John Carlson returned to the game and appeared to be okay after a puck jumped up and hit him in the face in the second period. Unfortunately it was largely Carlson's inability to tie up Chuck Kobasew that gave the winger, who had just been promoted to the top line, space to fire the puck past Michal Neuvirth for the first goal.

--Neuvirth made 15 saves and had another strong outing but also gave up more frequent, quality rebounds than he did Wednesday.

--I'll have more from Calgary, where the Capitals are scheduled to practice Friday afternoon.

By Katie Carrera  | October 28, 2010; 11:39 PM ET
Categories:  Minnesota Wild  
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Next: Capitals seek a faster start

Comments

Yes, Carlsson had a bad game - but he's still young. I wonder if the team is so worried about peaking early, liked it did last year, that they are subconsciously underperforming out of the gate...

Posted by: CAP-lanta | October 29, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

"I wonder if the team is so worried about peaking early, liked it did last year, that they are subconsciously underperforming out of the gate..."

You may be spot on with this. Pretty good theory.

Posted by: j3rockstar | October 29, 2010 5:50 AM | Report abuse

@CAP-lanta

Carlson was responsible for that first goal, but after that he actually played pretty well.

The team tried to force the puck to Ovie to much...esp. in the 3rd.

Lazy penalties killed us and the amount of off sides was atrocious esp. since the Wild weren't really blocking our entrance much.

Good notes:
We held the team to very few SOG (of course they did the same to us)

1st line had some good chances and looks to be clicking more

our PK was put up against a great PP and did well (overall).

It is way to early in the season to be talking about back to back game fatigue...take a nap before the game and u r good. I hate to say it (cause I am a koolaid drinker) but the Caps just don't seem to be trying very hard. Ovie needs to call a lengthy team meeting soon and get this group working better.

Posted by: capscoach | October 29, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Would expect to see a whole lot of shaking going on -- at least in the Caps' lineup.

Figure Fahey's in since Sloan's either hurt or in the doghouse, based on the fact he played so sparingly.

Johansson's in -- if he's healthy.

Will King be in? Well, if Boudreau's inclined to "sit" someone else to send them a message.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 29, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

@capsfans75

The problem with benching soomeone is that I don't think anyone played glaringly worse than anyone else (esp. the forwards) MP looked out muscled, but we knew he wouldn't play anyway if MaJO is feeling better.

Posted by: capscoach | October 29, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

What's the point of sitting someone or juggling lines when the BB system is to blame? When the Caps play a defensive minded team, they tend to look out of sorts. The Caps looked good against the Canes and Paul Maurice because his teams play an offense first system. The Caps have looked weak against the B's and the Wild who play defense first. Atl has also swithced to a team defense system and have played the Caps much better than last year.

Teams clog the neutral zone making the stretch passes nearly impossible. They hang back not allowing the Caps desired odd man rushes. They forcheck down low keeping the Caps hemmed in their own zone. They stack their blueline drawing offsides. The trend is obvious this season and the person who does not recognize it is BB. BB must adapt or be given a pink-slip.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 29, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Jason Chimera said. "It seems like the last 10 minutes we started skating a little better better.."

...did he really say that?

Posted by: mcintire_will | October 29, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

1. Flash went back to being Flush, horrible!!

2. Semin couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with that wrist shot of his last night.

3. What the hell happened to the dump and chase and cycling from the night before?

4. This team is showing zero heart right now and it is really had to watch. Ten games in and only three decent efforts. If this does not improve by Thanksgiving BB must go IMO!

Posted by: PhilR | October 29, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS

yeah um...the D was fine last night. It was the ofsense that struggled. and the Wild really didn't do a good job clogging the nuetral zone...we were offsides so much because we were lazy and heartless. That was really just a half hearted effort last night.

Posted by: capscoach | October 29, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Is any body else a little tired of the references to the AHL by coach BB. "The system worked in the AHL", "He's played well in the AHL", "You don't win Calder Cups without being good", etc, etc. We don't want to win the Calder Cup, we want to win the Stanley Cup. If after 3+ years BB is still referencing his success and players success in the AHL, I'm starting to get worried he doesn't know what to do at the NHL level. This team needs to be able to win 6-5 games AND 2-1 games. I'm patient hoping the early season offense struggles portend a team working on other parts of their game for the long haul, but I don't need references to minor league hockey any more. How about something like, "we've seen how far good grinding team play like the Philadelphia Flyer displayed last year, can take a team."

Posted by: nfb987 | October 29, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

JIMALLCAPS,

Could not agree more with your assessment. Every team that has the ability/personnel to play a defense first game have figured out how to play the Caps and BB is too busy making stupid commercials to work on an adjustment to get around it.

Who knows, maybe he sees the end is near and is trying to make as much cash as possible!

Posted by: PhilR | October 29, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach,

The defense played against the Caps is the problem. By standing the Caps up in the neutral zone it completely throws the timing of the run and gun off which is BB's system. If they would have simply gone back to the dump and chase and cycle game from the night before they would have spent much more time in the offensive zome and created many more scoring chances. 12 or 13 shots through two periods of hockey is absolutely pitiful.

Posted by: PhilR | October 29, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

If you look at that game again I think you would notice that the Wild really didn't clog the nuetral zon much.

Posted by: capscoach | October 29, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

1. Flash went back to being Flush, horrible!!

2. Semin couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with that wrist shot of his last night.

3. What the hell happened to the dump and chase and cycling from the night before?

4. This team is showing zero heart right now and it is really had to watch. Ten games in and only three decent efforts. If this does not improve by Thanksgiving BB must go IMO!

Posted by: PhilR

Seriously? After that game the things you found to criticize were Flash and Semin? Hmmmmmm, possible ingrained bias taking over? Is it ever possible for some people to look at a game and judge it for what happened in the game and not what they are hoping happened in the game.

Semin, missed a few shots but played okay. Flash played okay as well. They were no worse than any other forward on the team. Yet, somehow you picked out them two to criticize. Coincidence, right?

Posted by: sgm3 | October 29, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Also, the players didn't chip the puck in and it is immediately BB's fault instead of the player's who refused to commit the act of chipping the puck in.

Why don't you blame the people who committed the act of refusing to chip the puck in(the players) instead of a person off to the side who only had the power to instruct the players what to do(which, according to the players he did) and not force them what to do.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 29, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

sgm,

You have said yourself that Semin's shot is not accurate and he missed the net at least 7 times last night on open shots, so I am simply pointing out something you stated a couple days ago that Semin's shot is ot accurate!!!!!!!!!!

Did you watch Flush go back to not back checking and avoiding contact last night? He looked like a scared kid in a haunted house. What game were you watching? There are many other players who did not have stellar games....Sloan was once again weak, MP was getting muscled all over the ice, and once again Knuble was putting the puck right in the Wild crest of Backstrom"s chest on every shot.

All this said I thought that Semin and Flush played the worst of the top forwards. How can you say Semin played ok when he missed the net so many times? His main job on the second line is to pot chances!

Posted by: PhilR | October 29, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

sgm,

Because BB is overall responsible for the actions of his team on the ice. That is how it works in not only professional sports but any organized sports in case you are unaware due to always studying stats. If the players were not performing as he wished during the first period he rips their a$$ during intermission and if he notices it contiuing in the 2nd then he shortens his bench to those who are willing to play the right way.

Are you just in the mood to argue this morning or what? I got very little sleep and will be more than happy to oblige.

Posted by: PhilR | October 29, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

@nfb, i agree with you about BB, he won't accept any excuses from his team, but he's clung to perhaps the phoniest excuse of them all, the hot goalie. That and I don't believe he's a good coach, and will never get this team over the hump.

For what it's worth, I had to watch the NHL feed and the Wild announcer made mention of the fact that OV said he had plenty of sleep the night before the game.

Posted by: Fletch22 | October 29, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

"If the players were not performing as he wished during the first period he rips their a$$ during intermission and if he notices it contiuing in the 2nd then he shortens his bench to those who are willing to play the right way"

Well said Phil. Cutting ice time is a time honored motivator.

Posted by: Steve_R | October 29, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

From the other posting ....
Coach Bruce Boudreau couldn't put a finger on why the past hallmark of fast starts to games hasn't yet been established this year.

"I haven't changed too much of my philosophies and everything as far as getting them ready for the games so I don't know what it is," he said.

Really dose he think we have forgotten montreal already .......... we know now that this man has NO new tricks upo his sleve.

Posted by: bqts | October 29, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

So, in reading these comments I get the feeling most everyone wants to blame BB and he should be out the door if he doesn't change. Here is my question:

Who do you bring in to replace him? A coach similar to his style, a team that has been built to play his style? Or a coach with a different style which would mean we would falter for a while because we don't have the players to play a different style (which would assumed to be a more defensive style)? I think you can see how the latter way has worked out for the Devils and Kovy.

Are we prepared to take a couple of steps backwards because that is what will happen if we change coaches at this point.

Oh, please provide AVAILABLE coaches names for someone you have in mind.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | October 29, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

@ CTCapsPhan

I can only speak for my comments but I like many other are only commenting on BB's own statements. When he continues to make comments about his systems working in the AHL, this isn't the AHL.

He is the one setting him self up to be kicked.

Posted by: bqts | October 29, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@bqts..Coach was not talking about systems only that in the most of the team has played in the AHL and the AHL many times playes three games in three nights on the weekend so he didn't want the player's or the media using the travel schedule for these back to back games as an excuse...


@ Fletch Jimall & Philr...thanks for the early morning comedy, it always makes me chuckle!

Posted by: boomer44 | October 29, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Why don't you blame the people who committed the act of refusing to chip the puck in(the players) instead of a person off to the side who only had the power to instruct the players what to do(which, according to the players he did) and not force them what to do.

The players try to execute the game plan put forth by the coach. Its obvious BB's game plan was not to dump and chase. He's going peddle to the metal in hopes that his team will begin to click and regain its past glory but so far its not working too well. Whether you agree with this strategy or you think he should find ways to adjust, you can't give the coach a pass and say it's all the players fault.

Posted by: congero | October 29, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

the caps HAVE been facing unusually good goaltending. Thomas was Halak-like, Ward robbed a good number of goals, and Backstrom made brilliant saves on shots that would have gone past a merely average goaltender. the caps haven't been responding well to it, but it is a giant obstacle.

not an excuse. just a potential explanation.

Posted by: j762 | October 29, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm wouldn't call for BB's head. He is absolutely right. We tend to be too fancy at times, and I think we pass too much. Shoot the puck, crash the net. BB is the best coach we ever had. But I do blame BB for making it so that Jose was expendable. Jose played well last year. He should have played in the playoffs when Varly was starting to crack. And the year before. We need to do more offense, and Ovechkin needs to be the leader and demand more of his team. The BJ King pickup was a joke. Thank god for Neuvy. The only one so far who has played consistently good. The season is still young. Let's not give up yet.

Posted by: Girl1 | October 29, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin to me is not the same player this year. He is not nearly as physical a presence on the ice as he was last year.

Whether that is by design to avoid him getting fatigued at the start of the postseason or not I don't know.

But where are those checks in open ice? Where are the battles along the boards?

Without Ovechkin being physical it means Washington is rolling two top lines that feature finesse performers.

Backstrom, Semin, Fleischmann. These guys are not going to set a tone on the ice.

Knuble used to do that in Boston and Philly but at 38 he seems to avoid contact more now.

Laich is a hard worker and perhaps the only other player in the top 6 who can set a tone for Washington.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | October 29, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Craps fans will go right back into "eiltist" mode as soon as the next blowout occurs. Then a few days later, they'll moan after a painful loss. Then a few games after that, another blowout and back into "elitist" mode. That's how they roll.

Posted by: slurpeesarecool | October 29, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

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