F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 12/27/11 at 04:17 PM ET
Last Friday, the Capitals spotted the Devils a 3-goal lead before scoring 3 in the 3rd to force OT. Although they did end up losing in the shootout, the Capitals were lucky enough to overcome a sleepy start to leave New Jersey with a point. Last night in Buffalo, the Caps were not as lucky. The Sabres roared out of the gate, putting 3 behind Michal Neuvirth in the first 10 minutes, and then another past Vokoun. The Capitals were able to hold them off the score sheet the remainder of the game, but only mustered 2 of their own.
The Capitals were essentially doomed from the start, as Roman Hamrlik was called for delay of game only 9 seconds from the start of play. Less than a minute later, Drew Stafford found space between Alzner and Wideman and had an easy feed to Jason Pominville, who easily put the puck past Michal Neuvirth. Three minutes later, the Sabres were able to add another off a seemingly innocent play. Matt Hendricks won a defensive zone draw back to Karl Alzner. No sooner had Alzner received the puck, Matt Ellis simply grabbed it off of his stick and threw a back-hander past Neuvirth. Neuvirth would only last another 6 minutes, as he would be pulled for Vokoun after a Christian Ehroff point shot found its way past Michal’s blocker. While the first 2 goals were defensives gaffs, this one shouldn’t have been in back of the net. The Sabres would add a 4th goal, 2nd on the PP, 3 minutes later. Brad Boyes easily cut across the slot and feed Brayden McNabb, who fired home his first of his career.
The fact that Hendricks and Ovechkin would bring the Caps within 2 by the 10-minute mark of the 3rd should be irrelevant. For the second straight game the Capitals came out sleepy and fell behind. If you have a mentally resilient team, this should be no problem. The issue with the Capitals is that they get down on themselves so easily. They play as if they have never faced adversity of failure before. And the truth is that a lot of these players never have. Let’s take John Carlson for example. This is a guy who played his junior hockey for the London Knights, one of the most successful OHL clubs in the past 10 years. He played for the USA juniors team, where he scored the gold winning OT goal against Canada. When he finally made the professional jump, he won 2 Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears and saw NHL time with an offensively overpowering Capitals. This is a problem with a good majority of the team. They have grown so accustomed to being the best that when they get knocked off the pedestal, they fall all the way to the bottom. And yet, for some reason, they come out each game thinking they are invulnerable. One would think that losing games 5-1, 7-1, 6-3 would make them realize that they actually need to play a complete 60 if they want to get back to where they once were.
The Capitals return to action on Wednesday, when the New York Rangers come to town. The Ranger will come into town off the heels of a 3-0 victory over the Islanders, which is their 5th consecutive victory. Over that span they have held their opponents to 1.4 GPG while netting an average of 3.6 of their own. A victory over the Blueshirts could be a huge boost to this Caps team.
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About F Street Faithful
Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.