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Time for Caps to be concerned?

Anyone else sick overtime every other night?

For those keeping score at home, tonight's 5-4 loss to the Senators marked the 10th time in the past 18 games in which the Caps went to extra time.

While annoying - particularly for writers on tight deadlines - going to OT isn't the reason fans should be getting concerned. This is why: For the second straight season, the Caps are closing out the regular season with a thud instead of a bang.

They've lost three in a row. Been out-shot 26-8 and outscored 7-2 the past two first periods. It's early, but this stretch is starting to look eerily reminiscent of last year's late season swoon, in which the Caps went 10-6-3 in March and April against some of the league's lesser lights before opening the playoffs with a two straight losses to the Rangers.

"We played great in the second and third," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "Maybe we are not ready for the first period. We have to. I remember the playoffs last year [and] we weren't ready the first two games. We have to get ready now and play a good 60 minutes. We haven't played a good 60 minutes in a while."

Boudreau scoffed when asked about the slide's significance.

"The difference between last year and this year, is last year we were playing teams that were out of the playoffs, so our level of play came down," he said. "I think the teams we're playing are fighting for something. That was a hard fought game. That wasn't a go-through-the-motions type game, let's get the season over with. You had two teams wanting it. So I don't think our level of play will be dropping like last year."

We'll the Caps now have six games to get their act together.

Check out my gamer here, then come on back for a few notes and quotes:

*One game after being pulled, Jose Theodore had an uneven night. Made some great saves (his stop on Daniel Alfredsson late in OT was fantastic). Also didn't get a whole lot of help in a three goal first period.

That said, in the estimation of Boudreau, he probably should have had Jason Spezza's game-tying goal in third period. (There was some debate over whether it hit Jeff Schultz on the way in, but neither Schultz nor Theodore were in the room after the game. Boudreau, meantime, said it went straight in off of Theodore.)

Either way, Boudreau gave the impression that he was less than impressed with the goaltending tonight.

"Well, I don't like five goals against," he said. "This has happened twice in a row and we've got to get better. There were four pretty iffy goals out there tonight."

Boudreau added that rookie Semyon Varlamov will be net on Thursday against Atlanta as originally planned.

*The Caps' 21 shots on goal were their fewest since Nov. 2008. The Senators, even without Anton Volchenkov, blocked 28 shots. (The Caps blocked eight).

*Alex Ovechkin took five shots on net and had eight blocked. He also skated 28:28 with an average shift of 1:21, and set a career high for assists with his 55th.

*I saw John Carlson briefly after the game. He seemed to be moving fine and was carrying a plate of food while walking, so whatever "upper body" injury he suffered, it must not be too bad.

Boudreau said he had been told that Carlson might be able to play Thursday.

*When Semin is on, man is he on. Yes, he took another offensive zone penalty. But he also scored two beautiful goals, the first on a one-legged wrist shot that only he could pot.

*Speaking of offensive zone penalties, Backstrom took a boneheaded one tonight. He manned up to it. Boudreau agreed with the call (maybe for the first time all season). And Alex Kovalev scored. Game over.

*Mathieu Perreault scored his second goal in two games and was in the penalty box for another. But, for the most part, he's been pretty impressive in his second stint with the Caps. It will be interesting to see what happens to him once Brendan Morrison is ready to return.

*Finally, the reunited line of Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin certainly was fun to watch while it lasted. Boudreau broke the trio up late as the game tightened up.

"I just wanted to get a change," Boudreau said of putting the trio back together. "I thought it would liven them up a bit. I thought we had moderate success. I changed them in the last eight minutes because of risk vs. reward."

Tomorrow, I'm taking one of my last off days before the start of the playoffs. But Gene and Lindsay will be on the case. So check back early and often.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 30, 2010; 11:58 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Steckel talks about another poor start
Next: Caps rally, but fall to Sens in overtime


Remember in 2008 when the Caps won 11 of their last 12 games of the regular season...then went down 3-1 to the Flyers in their first playoff series?

Just saying.

Posted by: ThisGuy | March 31, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Oh, trust me Bruce, that second Spezza went off of Shultz's bottom. All of us on our row by Theo saw it - can't pin that one on Theo. That one is all on Shultz's glutes.

Posted by: plinkwired | March 31, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Last year's team took nights off all season, Bruce repeatedly looked past it, and the team got BLASTED in game 7 against the Pens when a night off found the Caps when they didn't want it. The year's team hasn't "played a good 60 minutes in a while," according to Nick Backstrom. We've all seen this. So: what is Bruce doing about it? He'll say things like: "we've got to get better" and "I keep telling them over and over" to do x, y, and z. When Bruce talks like this he sounds like Glen Hanlon: helpless. Bruce didn't have the team ready to play on Sunday against Calgary (he himself said as much) and his team isn't playing a full 60 minutes and hasn't for "a while" now. Unless and until Bruce does something more than what Hanlon would do, trouble is likely.

Posted by: caps1974 | March 31, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

From last post (but worth considering)
hey...I may be late to the game on mentioning this:

Q: With the PK so obviously broken (with CAL and OTT both bottom dwellers going lights out vs us (1 for 3 and 3 for 4 me thinks) there no talk of change of personnel either in players or coaching? Just asking...again shame on me for not asking before April 1.

BTW...when I mean coaching I only mean switching Deano with someone else to take the gig (not trying to make him the fall guy just trying to get something going is all)...maybe?

Posted by: ralCapsFan | March 31, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Yea BB keep blaming the goaltending even though it probably would have been 8-4 if it weren't for Theo. Our goalies can't continue to stop breakaways and odd man rushes, maybe BB needs to teach our players how to play defense but obviously that is not happening. What a joke.

Posted by: zackattack4492 | March 31, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

BB better have this team ready to play on Thursday or I'd give him the Lou Lamorello hook. BTW, first time Lou used the hook and went to Larry Robinson, the Devils won the Stanley Cup. I just don't think anyone fears the wrath of Gabby.

Posted by: diner99 | March 31, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

I actually agree with BB about Theo. I thought he should have had at least 2 of those goals. The Theo that has been amazing since January is not the Theo that was in net tonight.

Posted by: dfe1 | March 31, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

It does appear that Theo had "come down to Earth" and is no longer hot.

I must admit I am concerned about the team at the moment. I would like to see them get turned around but know that motivation could be a problem.

They have two weeks to get it in gear and to get things turned around.

Looking forward to seeing Laich back in the lineup on Thursday, if it's that soon. We need him. It seems like he's our "real" MVP.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 31, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Remember in 2008 when the Caps won 11 of their last 12 games of the regular season...then went down 3-1 to the Flyers in their first playoff series?

Just saying.
There has to be a happy medium.

It's not an overall lack of effort, it's an uneven lack of effort. Caps need to show up for the 1st period so they don't have to play catch-up for the whole game.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | March 31, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Our PK a disaster area, to say the least. 25% killing percentage. Way below unacceptable. We converted 1 PP opportunity in 1, which is average for us but not good enough to win since our PK is so abysmal.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 31, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse


And I could be wrong but I think I saw Quintin Lang on the ice for the OT goal. I don't know about that one Bruce.

And like I've said before...can't trust Theo. Better hope Varly heats up down the stretch.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | March 31, 2010 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Laing was out there for the OT PK. I guess BB wanted him for his shot-blocking ability.

Posted by: dfe1 | March 31, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Dumb question I'm sure BUT ill ask nonetheless - has anyone noticed this recent slide coincides with the injury to laich's face?

they have not been the same team without brooksy in the lineup...

go get em' varly - your chance is now (actually thursday)

Posted by: RAJSTAR | March 31, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

I think they were slipping before Laich went out truthfully.

Posted by: dfe1 | March 31, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse


Agree with Rajstar that the team has not been the same without Laich.

I had a crazy idea at the game today. I had suggested that whoever is at left wing on the line with Semin should wear jersey #21 and pretend to be Laich. In that way, the team can be inspired to play better hockey.

Guess Laich is the team's real MVP.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 31, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

Is Ovi depressed and hasn't been the same player since the suspension?

Schultz has also not been the same since the "break" either.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 31, 2010 2:02 AM | Report abuse

On the lighter side of things, both Chicago and Phoenix lost in regulation today - we actually gained on them in the President's race. We did not, however, gain on SJ. They are actually winning again...

Posted by: Raber | March 31, 2010 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Blah Blah Blah from the players.. We have to start faster, play better etc.
They better figure out a way to get going or the playoffs will be short for us.
If they want to be cup winners then they need to stop talking and making excuses and start playing.
Great players and teams find a way to dig deep and get it done.
Will the Caps be a great team or just a flash in the pan ?

Posted by: jotay131 | March 31, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse


BB & GM you two need to sit these players down and watch last years game 7 defeat again . I want you to watch the last 3 minutes 3 times . I want you to watch the players after the horn sounded ending the game . You need to show this over and over . Let them be reminded of the pain let them feel that pain again . I bet if you did this you would see a change in play.

BB is not getting them ready to play . Maybe BB needs to be replace!

Posted by: terryreece | March 31, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Good grief everybody quit blaming the goalies already! Has anyone seen how badly the Caps are playing in the first period? Is 3-0 not enough of a sign that something else is wrong besides our goaltending? Yes, goalies are partly to blame as there have been some real softies getting by them, but our opponents and their pucks should not be allowed near our net in the first place. The Caps need to start playing 60 minutes vs. 20 minutes of hockey EVERY single game.

Shake it off Caps and win the next 6!!!

Posted by: AmyS1 | March 31, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I've read 2 or 3 comments about how Bruce needs to me replace. This is ridiculous. Bruce is 2 years removed from winner the Jack Adams, he has brought a style of hockey to Washington that is both fan friendly (in a bandwagon city) and conducive to the personnel the Caps have and the Caps have NEVER lost more than 4 in a row with him. He's a proven winner (multiple Calder Cups). The Caps mini-slide isn't on Gabby, it's on the players. They need to show up, every game. They need to realize that talent alone will probably get them past the Bruins/Thrashers/Rags but that effort won't fly against the Pens/Sens or Buffalo.

Posted by: jake81 | March 31, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

People are beating the Caps up way too much. Last week at this time after we came back from an 0-2 shootout hole vs sPitt people were talking about how much grit, heart, passion..yaddayaddayadda....this team has.

Now a little rut comes and people are worried about everything. The Flames got 3 of the flukiest goals ive ever seen and last night there were 2 flukey goals. I think the team will be fine. Theo was off but maybe mentally he's off because they have clinched #1 seed and are ahead of everyone. That has to play into the thought process when preparing/playing a game.

The team may not be as focused or as hungry but they are still the same talented bunch that got us this far.

The sense of urgency may be lacking but come Game 1 of the 1st round I guarantee you the Caps we all know and love will be just fine.

Posted by: Redskins2Win | March 31, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Ovie isn't playing the same since the last suspension. He is not nearly as physical as he usually plays and it's showing. He needs to dial it back up. He needs to come out and set the tone for the team.

I am really nervous about the way we are playing. I know we don't have whole lot to play for, but it seems like the last time we played a full game was before the break. It's not good to go into the playoffs like this. I hope they turn it around.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 31, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone think Corvo is better than Pothier? I don't.

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | March 31, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

We really do have some terrible fans out there (although nowhere near as bad as stupid Pittsburgh or Philly). I mean replace BB? Are you kidding?

Every team goes through a rut. SJ is just snapping out of one (and I heard they are pretty good). Its been our turn for a while now. Better have it now instead of in the middle of a playoff series.

Just relax people.

Posted by: rademaar | March 31, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Ah -- Rademaar...The voice of reason.

Its 2 games...Relax I would rather have them playing like this now then in round 1 of the playoffs

Posted by: hart2014 | March 31, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Why make such a big deal of the number of shots that Ottawa blocks.

Every team the Caps play blocks a lot of shots. They are predictable shots from the point, or the predictable shot after Ovi makes his predictable move just inside the blue line. Now, it still takes courage to step in front of an Ovi shot and deaden it - but more and more are doing it and it shows.

There's just too many shots not getting through.

Posted by: writered21 | March 31, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Can people just get off the freakin' ledge already? A slump was bound to happen with the team and, if you look at the season as a whole, there really hasn't been one. Better to have it now than to have in during round one of the playoffs.
I see a slacking off in regards to the intensity, but, with the team having locked up the conference points lead, the team may be a bit complacent. I look to the two Pittsburgh games coming up as a measuring stick.
And the talk of firing BB is just plain stupid.

Posted by: TimDz | March 31, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I think Backstrom looks like he could use a break. Since the olypmics his passes have been off and he rarely uses his speed. There was one shift in the 3rd period where he had really good jump and showed how fast he is but it sort of left me thinking "where's that been all game, and the past 10?". But the biggest problem is that Theodore has been pretty brutal the last couple of games. he's been better later in the games, but in each there have been a couple of really weak goals early on to put the team behind. I don't know what it is but it seems like he's having trouble moving from post to post and isn't getting his stick or pads down to stop pucks along the ice because of it. With his style, that will happen sometimes, but teams are starting to just shoot low, not even hard, when he's moving and it's causing huge problems. Even though he's been good the rest of the year, if your goalie is having a clear issue with a type of shot going into the playoffs, you can't start him. Varlamov hasn't been playing great lately, but there hasn't been a specific type of shot that's been giving him problems so it wouldn't be as easy for teams to exploit a weakness. Against him they'd shoot high because he's started dropping his glove a bit again, but it hasn't been as apparent and consistent as Theo's post to post issue. Hope he works on that and fixes it going into the playoffs or it could be a short run.

Posted by: Stu_c | March 31, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

No offense, but those fans who are on the ledge, on the verge of jumping, flailing their arms in the air, rushing to the supermarket to get emergency kits for the impending end of the world, please jump. Jump now, so the rest of us can avoid having to pelt you with beanie babies and wet paper towels. Yeah, some butterflies in the stomach for their recent performance but knowing the Capitals, they'll turn it around and get back into gear soon enough. Oh, and some of you might want to change your underpants. I hear pooping bricks is not comfortable.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 31, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm starting to have doubts about Boudreau for the first time. The idea is to win in the playoffs and this team seems anything but ready for the playoffs. The first period malaise is bizarre. Of course, this IS the same bunch that took the night off last season in game Seven against Pissburgh. Inexplicable.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | March 31, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why there's any ambiguity regarding Brendan Morrison's role when he returns to health. He will be the second or third line center. Bottom line is he plays two ways and has exceptional speed, they need him in the lineup. They're not doing very well defensively without him.

Posted by: MorrisonFan | March 31, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Schultz has always been terrible it isn't just a recent thing...our defense is terrible we can't win games giving up soo many shots on goal. Our goalies are the least of our worries!

Posted by: velo_matt | March 31, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse


I agree Schultz hasn't looked good recently, not many caps have, but he has been one of our better D men all year. Why do you think BB paired him with Green? Because Green is too busy trying to score goals. I peronally like Green/Schultz, Morrison/Carlson, and Poti/Corvo. Poti/Corvo is my least favorite.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 31, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

CORVO IS A FLOP! he would have been good if others could play D but that is not the case. He has not made any significant contributions...SCHULTZ has 13 takeaways this year and averages less than one hit a game! He's garbage. POTI only has 19 hits....enough said about that one.

Posted by: velo_matt | March 31, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

By the way BB doesn't know a damn thing about defense and neither does George

Posted by: velo_matt | March 31, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Pho and CHi are not in the running for the Prez cup. It's only SJ and DC. If we don't win it we sure don't deserve it.

Posted by: rjma1 | March 31, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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