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Posted at 10:51 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Michal Neuvirth was sterling in goal -- for 51 minutes

By Katie Carrera

San Jose's 2-0 win at Verizon Center Tuesday night marked the eighth time the Capitals have been shutout this season. That's the most shutouts against Washington since the 1998-99 season, when it happened 11 times. The franchise record is 12, set in the 1974-75 campaign. Bet that's not something many folks would have guessed coming into this year.

For 51 minutes, Michal Neuvirth was the story of this game. He was the main reason why Washington was still playing in a scoreless contest entering the third period (along with a disallowed goal in the Capitals' favor the first). Neuvirth made 56 consecutive saves, going back to Washington's 3-0 win against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and hadn't allowed a goal for 111:55 until Logan Couture's shot slipped between his pads.

It was a seemingly harmless shot from low in the left faceoff circle but at the rate the Sharks were pressuring and how few times the puck left the Capitals' zone for a significant length of time, it appeared to be only a matter of time before San Jose took control of the game on the scoreboard.

"I felt pretty good the whole game," Neuvirth said. The Sharks "were coming pretty hard the whole game and they just deserved to win tonight, I think."

Neuvirth allowed a goal on the next shot after Couture's goal, this time short side on the right from Dan Boyle. All of a sudden it was 2-0 in favor of the Sharks and Neuvirth's efforts for the majority of the game were no longer what stood out from the game.

"In the end he played good for 51 minutes, but if you want to be a great goalie in this league, when the game is on the line you've got to be the one to make sure you stop those," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought both of those goals were not of the variety that should have beat him, but at the same time I thought he kept us in it the first two periods."

-- While the Capitals didn't do much to help their cause by way of points, the Tampa Bay Lightning also lost Tuesday, 7-4 to the Buffalo Sabres. So for the time being, nothing changed in the battle for the Southeast Division title, with the Lightning leading the Capitals by three points 71 to 68.

-- It's hard not to wonder how the game might have changed if the Capitals' would-be goal in the first period wasn't waved off because the play had been blown dead prematurely. While a 1-0 lead in the first period -- on a goal which likely would have been credited to Alexander Semin -- would have altered the game's complexion, there was plenty of time left for the Capitals to react and adjust.

"It was deflating. Obviously it shouldn't have been blown, the referee came up and he apologized -- it didn't do us a lot of good," Boudreau said. "We're a team that plays a lot better with the lead these day rather than coming from behind. That probably would have helped us, but you can't blame that one chance. We didn't get opportunities because we didn't deserve opportunities. They played a pretty good shut-down game and they worked harder than us."

-- If you noticed the distinct absence of the dump-and-chase philosophy and attitude of winning battles all over the ice that helped the Capitals win the two contests prior to the game against the Sharks, well ... you weren't alone.

"That was our game plan but they decided to get cute because they had a little bit of success, and when you don't stick with the game plan, bad things usually happen," Boudreau said. "There was not a lot of jump for whatever reason today. We wanted to shoot, we wanted to go after the rebounds and when we did we got rebounds, we got chances. But we didn't seem to want to shoot until we got behind 2-0."

By Katie Carrera  | February 8, 2011; 10:51 PM ET
Categories:  Michal Neuvirth, San Jose Sharks  
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Next: Capitals find little to apply toward next game against Sharks

Comments

i wonder if katie just uses cut and paste from old headlines because this shut-out stuff has become a regular thing.

Posted by: natresgroup | February 9, 2011 12:21 AM | Report abuse

great, she changed the headline, trust me it said the caps were shut-out for the eighth time.

Posted by: natresgroup | February 9, 2011 12:48 AM | Report abuse

headline may have changed - but the file in the URL didn't: capitals-shut-out-for-eighth-t.html

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 9, 2011 12:51 AM | Report abuse

@Tominsocal

I couldn't agree with you more. The reporters should put the whole story on the table. Ask some not-so-easy-to-answer questions and NOT accept the same old replies.

We can't score. WTF??? What's to blame? The scorers... Guys who are paid to score.

WTF is wrong with OV? He looks like a 52 year old OV at this point. NO jump, and I think he needs a whole new batch of sticks.

We played well tonight, but gave up too many shots. Neuvy stood on his head for a long time. WE need to be the team that takes a game like this home. We need to do it now.

We need a lot more character as a team as well. We need to stop taking losing so lightly. Be sure of yourself and play for one another for effs sake!!

Just like I've said over and over - Just sayin' it again.

I would love to know if GMGM or Ted (or sh*t, even BB!) ever read these posts to see what the fans are saying. I wonder if there will be any changes at all this season?

Something needs to change. The boys that are paid to score just need to score once in a while. Period.

Posted by: sca187 | February 9, 2011 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Didn't OV just got kneed by Matt Cooke recently? I am surprised that he is even out there trying, unlike the other "Super Star" who still does not know where he is at. Maybe that is why OV used to sniff smelling salt to get that "old noggin" cleared until the next shift. I love John Carlson's quote on radio saying that the Capitals have incentive to play San Jose after being shut out 5-0 at their place last time. I am glad they "played hard" again in this shut out too. Yes, I am being sarcastic.

Posted by: JohnWWW | February 9, 2011 6:50 AM | Report abuse

John are you twelve? He took a knee on Sunday by Cooke. That doesn't explain all year. If you are surprised that a hockey player is out there after that, then clearly you know nothing of the sport. Maybe you should go to the ice skating blogs and rant your bumbling statements. This one is for hardcore Caps fans... and no one else.

Posted by: penscapsNOTarivalry | February 9, 2011 7:20 AM | Report abuse

"In the end he played good for 51 minutes, but if you want to be a great goalie in this league, when the game is on the line you've got to be the one to make sure you stop those," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought both of those goals were not of the variety that should have beat him, but at the same time I thought he kept us in it the first two periods."


Way to go throwing your young goaltender under the bus there BB. How about blaming yourself for not holding your players accountable for not playing up to snuff and demanding more of them??

"That was our game plan but they decided to get cute because they had a little bit of success, and when you don't stick with the game plan, bad things usually happen," Boudreau said. "There was not a lot of jump for whatever reason today. We wanted to shoot, we wanted to go after the rebounds and when we did we got rebounds, we got chances. But we didn't seem to want to shoot until we got behind 2-0."


Ummmm, it is the coaching staffs job to ENSURE the game plan is executed properly and if it is not by certain players then you shrten your bench and play the guys who are willing to do what it takes.

I knew the two games over the weekend were too good to be true, this team is currently terrible and it falls firmly on the coaching staff as they have shown that this team CAN be great but is underperforming.

Posted by: PhilR | February 9, 2011 7:25 AM | Report abuse

With you Phil. Also, let's not overlook the fact that the only minuses last night was our top line. It only takes one weak link in a four line rotation to spoil a great defensive effort by not diligently playing d in our zone.

Posted by: penscapsNOTarivalry | February 9, 2011 7:29 AM | Report abuse

'"In the end he played good for 51 minutes, but if you want to be a great goalie in this league, when the game is on the line you've got to be the one to make sure you stop those,' Coach Bruce Boudreau said."

Wow Bruce. Were you playing for the NHL's first ever zero-goal win? Or were you counting on another Caps stellar OT performance? Or maybe in your book 1 point is good enough...

Has any coach with so much offense on his roster ever survived so long into a season with such low goal output? I'd be ashamed. Never seen a coach that has such an insignificant impact on the mental performance of his team. Bruce, why won't the team listen to you when you tell them to quit being cute?

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | February 9, 2011 7:30 AM | Report abuse

These reporters absolutely need to get tougher. The Caps need to be treated with iron mitts, not the kid gloves anymore. A franchise that has advanced past Round Two of the playoffs once in fifteen years (but acts like it's a dynasty) needs to be able to handle the tough questions.

Bruce should get a serious kick in the pants for throwing Neuvy under the bus. As someone who has played goalie before, if you get zero support, and you're getting bombarded by shots and the play is in your end the whole time, you're going to get worn down and tired at some point. Or there is a mental lapse. Just by odds/numbers alone, a puck is going to go past you. That's what happened to Neuvy. Yeah he should have stopped it maybe, but the rest of his team was doing nothing to help him.

The excuses need to stop. The drooling lemmings on the postgame radio show had the same cut and paste company line excuses to the people calling in who have legitimate points and concerns. This kind of game is not an isolated case.

The Caps have been shut out eight times. Only Toronto has as many. They've also scored only one goal seven times. So 15 times this season they've essentially been scoreless, on a team loaded with high-quality picks and players. The team loves to babble on about how they have x-number of #1 picks in the lineup each night. Big deal, if they don't score.

From what I've seen, it's an effort thing. Same old lets be cute, lets make a pretty pass...lets NOT crash the net, sacrifice the body, or do the hard things needed to get goals and wins.

I mean we're all glad they finally have learned to play better defense (although giving up 36 shots and letting the opponent dominate in your end all night is hardly good defense. Were it not for Neuvy this game could have been 6-0)and are allowing fewer goals. But what's the point if you're going to get shut down on offense? Either the coaching needs to improve dramatically or the players effort needs to be called out more often.

Katie, etc...please get tougher with this team. It's not like they have a long history of success and have earned the softball-type questions.

And Bruce you owe Neuvy an apology. Why don't you go make some more idiotic commercials with all your spare time? Or I don't know, work on the PP or something competent coaches do.

Posted by: jollyroger2 | February 9, 2011 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"Ummmm, it is the coaching staffs job to ENSURE the game plan is executed properly and if it is not by certain players then you shrten your bench and play the guys who are willing to do what it takes."

Ummmmm, no it isn't. Since the coaching staff is not actually able to execute the game plan since they are not on the ice it is impossible for a coaching staff to ENSURE a game plan is executed. If a player chooses not to make a certain play while on the ice, that is on the player. Why don't we ever blame the people who didn't perform their job correctly. It falls on the players.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 9, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I thought Neuvirth looked good most of the night and made some tough stops. I don't think BB would have made a comment about Neuvirth letting in 2 soft goals had we been able to score 1-2 of our own.

I thought the Semin line played poorly too -- I was just holding my breath waiting for that line to cough up some chances for SJ.

Posted by: TurbineBlade1 | February 9, 2011 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I thought Neuvirth looked good most of the night and made some tough stops. I don't think BB would have made a comment about Neuvirth letting in 2 soft goals had we been able to score 1-2 of our own.

I thought the Semin line played poorly too -- I was just holding my breath waiting for that line to cough up some chances for SJ.

Posted by: TurbineBlade1 | February 9, 2011 8:08 AM | Report abuse

sgm3,

Ummmmmmm, you apparently have not followed sports very long have you? The coaching staff is always held responsible for ensuring the execution is completed in every sport and if it is not they are not employed very long, at least in every city save for DC apparently. When a team is nto performing in any pro sport what generally occurs first???? The coach or assistant of GM get fired.

As far as blaming the players....I said to shorten the bench, how is that not holding the guilty players accountable??

And I get it, you are just reverting to your old self trying to start an argument and I bit on the bait....this will be my only response to you however.

Posted by: PhilR | February 9, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

"assistant of gm" should be assistant OR GM....

Posted by: PhilR | February 9, 2011 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Backstrom is the problem.

He is just a slug moving around on the ice.

What the Caps need is SOME IGINLA! Heart, skill, soul, power...

Trade Semin to the Flames, give them Neuvirth...take Iginla.

If you really want to get crazy, throw in Fehr, MP, and any defenseman not named Carlson or Alzner...and get Bouwmeester...


I am personally not going to be satisfied with anything but getting to the cup. Don't destroy your future, but STOP PLAYING FOR YOUR FUTURE! THE FUTURE IS NOW!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | February 9, 2011 8:12 AM | Report abuse

GMGM had better get his thinking cap on and his pencil sharp, because there is no way they can win a seven game series with this line-up! let alone if they have a skid could possibly miss the playoffs..I know we are gonna be good for years to come blah, blah, blah but at what point do you make a little sacrifice to win the damn thing now! Time is not your friend!!!

Posted by: bigBinMd | February 9, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

How gutless to throw Neuvy under the bus. Gutless.
Watching that game (and this season)was like watching the blood run out of someone over 60 minutes.
Did I say it was gutless to single out someone who played with courage and heart?

Posted by: jim73 | February 9, 2011 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I am personally not going to be satisfied with anything but getting to the cup. Don't destroy your future, but STOP PLAYING FOR YOUR FUTURE! THE FUTURE IS NOW!

Posted by: SoaringCaps

But the future is so bright. After all, we locked up Poti for two more years.

I said this the second after that signing was announced, and I'll say it again. McPhee is clueless. We won the President's Cup, got absolutely embarrassed on home ice (again). Instead of the gm fixing the problems, we have regressed significantly. BBs only option was to try and change the system, and look at what we have become.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 9, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

While it is easy (& correct) to point to the many reasons cited by others here, I think the bottom line is that the team's experiment to find a #2 center from the organization hasn't worked out. Neither of the young centers are ready to be that guy yet - and it is dragging down the rest of the team on both sides of the ice. Unfortunately for the Caps, teams in the hunt for a center are on the rise. If the Caps lose out on this one to the Penguins, that will be the biggest loss of the season.

Posted by: bill_in_damascus | February 9, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Screw that. Throwing Neuvirth under the bus after single handedly keeping this team in it the whole game. BB would be best suited to throw Alzner and Ovechkin under the bus for being out of position and completely asleep at the wheel for that second goal. Alzner decided to join the play after Heatley grabbed the puck behind the net and Ovechkin was so far out of position that Boyle could have shot at any spot in the net and nailed it. Enough of this crap. Your goalie has been keeping you in games, he posts you a shutout the other day, and you throw these quotes in the paper. The Caps don't SCORE GOALS consistently. We've been shut out twice in the last 8 games. Our record is 3-3-2 or something. That's not getting it together for a playoff run. 2 games on 1 game off. Playoffs are obviously gonna ratchet up the level of intensity. No excuses for this level of play. NONE! Not with this line up and not with the money paid to these players. Teams with far less talent are becoming hot and the Caps can't figure out what their identity is on a nightly basis. GET IT TOGETHER.

Sorry about this but I've been to far too many games with my season tix and watching this lack of effort. Katie why don't you ask the real questions like Tarik did and ask where the hell is our highly paid captain every night and why is he consistently missing defensive assignments and failing to adapt. Tired of this junk.

Posted by: blanknerc | February 9, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I've not been a Bruce basher. But I really don't like what I'm hearing out of him.

* Dude, Neuvy wasnt your problem out there. Agree w Jim, totally gutless. He played his heart out and got the 2nd star of the game in a losing effort, but it wasnt his fault.

* >>"It was deflating. Obviously it shouldn't have been blown, the referee came up and he apologized -- it didn't do us a lot of good," Boudreau said.

Its obvious he has no confidence, and that he's got no confidence in his players. And the squad has completely lost confidence. Should we lose the season too?

First time I've felt strongly for a change. I'm not sure Bruce is the guy who can lead the team out of this with that kind of attitude.

Posted by: justbrewit | February 9, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

wow, my posts have been blocked before, but this is the first time I've seen the content actually edited. The posting above has 2 sentences completely deleted. Not even inflammatory.

Posted by: justbrewit | February 9, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Yep, the excuses are getting a little old.

"It's hard not to wonder how the game might have changed if the Capitals' would-be goal in the first period wasn't waved off because the play had been blown dead prematurely."
Really? It wasn't hard for me. I didn't give it a second thought. Referees losing sight of the puck, waving off goals, and bad calls are part of the game. Go out and score one they can't wave off. And before anyone says something smart alecky, yes I have had goals that I know I scored waved off. It sucks, but you have to keep playing. And yes, it was an adult "beer" league, but they were still important to me.

Mixed reviews on some of BB's comments.

"It was deflating. Obviously it shouldn't have been blown, the referee came up and he apologized -- it didn't do us a lot of good," Boudreau said. "We're a team that plays a lot better with the lead these day rather than coming from behind. That probably would have helped us..."
I don't like that tone. It kinda sounds like loser talk to me.

"...but you can't blame that one chance. We didn't get opportunities because we didn't deserve opportunities. They played a pretty good shut-down game and they worked harder than us."
I do like that. Not blaming the outcome of a game on one questionable call and accepting responsibility. Of course you must go on to do something about it, and if you do that's the way winners talk and act.

"In the end he played good for 51 minutes, but if you want to be a great goalie in this league, when the game is on the line you've got to be the one to make sure you stop those," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought both of those goals were not of the variety that should have beat him, but at the same time I thought he kept us in it the first two periods."

I don't know Neuvy well enough to know if those are the right buttons to push. If they are, saying them in private may have been a better choice.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | February 9, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The Caps came out as flat as an A-cup gal and somehow got flatter. The top 2 lines did not cycle much, many players lolly-gagged out there (Steckel was the worst), OV and Semin took stupid shoots that were barely in the zone, when they had 2-3 guys on them instead of looking for the open guy. I am glad that BB actually called out the top players for selfish, lazy play. About time. Neuvy got screwed by a lousy effort.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 9, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

@SoaringCaps

I'm right there with you. If we could trade Semin and another player for Iginla....I'd make that trade in a heart beat. Semin is what he is, an amazing skilled player with bad work ethic and extremely streaky scoring ability. Iginla does it all. I know he's getting old, but we know what we have in Semin and it's not going to win us a cup.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | February 9, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

one loss and the doofus brigade goes nuts...truly amazing

Posted by: boomer44 | February 9, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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