Varlamov, defense struggle in 6-5 loss to Senators
After watching his team suffer a second straight sloppy loss, Coach Bruce Boudreau did not mince his words.
"It was an ugly display," he said following Thursday night's 6-5 loss at Scotiabank Place, the Caps' first regulation defeat in 16 games. "I thought our defense was horrible and our goaltending was horrible. You're not going to win when you give up six goals and maybe five of them are bad ones and our 'D' can't make a play. It's awful."
Yep, that's about right. In fact, Alexander Semin's hat trick - the Capitals' third in three games - might have been the only highlight for the Caps, who have surrendered 23 goals the past five games.
Check out my gamer here, then come on back for some notes and quotes from tonight's loss:
*Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov earned his paycheck. He limited Alex Ovechkin, the NHL leader in shots on goal, to just one shot in 27:42. Ovechkin had eight attempts blocked; Volchenkov finished with 11 blocks and was named the No. 1 star of the game.
In all, the Senators blocked 29 shots to the Caps' 5.
*Ovechkin was also in the penalty box for interference when Alex Kovalev scored the game winner in the third period.
*The player who received the brunt of Boudreau's wrath, however, was Semyon Varlamov. He yielded a goal on the first shot he faced and never seemed to fully regain his focus.
Was he rusty in his first NHL start in more than two months? Absolutely. But Boudreau called him out for being unprepared.
"I don't think he was ready to play," the coach said. "He knew he was going to play. He's had 12 days of practice and a game under his belt. It's his responsibility to be ready. When you say, he's rusty, it's an excuse. And excuses aren't tolerated. The puck's going through his legs? He's been making that save since he was seven years old. Unless his memory banks have lost it. He should have made the saves. But the giveaways by our defensemen were more horrible than the goaltending, and I didn't think the goaltending was good."
Unless something changes, Jose Theodore is expected to be back in net Saturday in St. Louis.
*The Caps' D struggled Wednesday in Montreal. It looked even worse tonight without Tom Poti (groin muscle strain) and Shaone Morrisonn (flu). Turnovers. Failed clearing attempts. Screening Varlamov. They were guilty of just about everything.
"We're trying to do too much," Jeff Schultz said. "Instead of putting [the puck] up the boards, we're trying to force it up the middle. Teams have been taking that away, and we're still trying to do it. We're watching instead of moving in and closing in on the players, and that's giving them time and space."
*Tomas Fleischmann scored his 18th goals, but he continued to struggle in the faceoff circle, winning just two of his 11 faceoffs. He was beaten cleanly by Jason Spezza on the Senators' second goal, which was scored by Milan Michalek.
On Wednesday, Fleischmann won three of his 14 draws. Which means the second line has spent a lot of time chasing the puck instead controlling it.
Boudreau was really in rare form in his postgame news conference, and I thought he summed up the night's events well with the following thought:
"Their goalie wasn't any good, either. They just got more shots, so they scored the extra goal."
The Caps are scheduled to have a sparsely attended practice tomorrow at Scotiabank Place. I'm not going to make it because of travel complications, but I hope to have an update later in the day.
February 11, 2010; 11:43 PM ET
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