F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 11/16/11 at 12:16 PM ET
The Washington Capitals lost to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night by a score of 3-1. After playing 50+ scoreless minutes, Brouwer took a pass from Johansson off the rush and fired a wrister past Rinne. What looked to be the lone goal in a game dominated by both goaltenders quickly faded as Nashville quickly drew even and added a winner with under a minute to go. Shea Weber would salt the game with an empty netter from the neutral zone.
WAS Goal: Brouwer(5) from Johansson and Eakin
After some pressure from Nashville, Eakin released Johansson down the LW boards, creating a 2-on-2 with Brouwer. Johansson send a pass over to Brouwer who simply glided to top of right circles, before firing a wrister over the blocker of Rinne. This was something the Caps had actually managed to do for most of the night. The difference here was that Brouwer was (1) smart enough to know to avoid Rinne’s glove hand and (2) use the defender (or in this case forward as Fisher was stuck back) as a screen.
NSH Goal: Erat(3) from Weber and Fisher
Less than a minute later, Martin Erat found himself alone at the post to knock home a cross-crease feed from Weber. This one is a bit more complex to break down, so stay with me here. The Capitals successfully had cleared the puck back to neutral ice. Ovechkin attempted to pick up the puck at the red line, but a Suter poke check sent Nashville the other way. At this point the Caps had all 3 forwards (Ovechkin, Backstrom, Brouwer) on the far side of the ice. Erat enters the zone and quickly dishes to a center-driving Fisher above the circles. Schultz quickly keys on Fisher, who simply dumps it off to Weber, who is pressing down the near side all alone. Schultz cannot recover and Weber simply feeds the puck across the crease to Erat, who pots it.
A lot went wrong on this play. Somehow Weber was left alone on the near boards. Either Brouwer or Ovechkin have to be held responsible for that. With Ovechkin spending most of the game on RW, I am led me to believe Brouwer was at fault, but a shift back to Ovie on the left seems possible as he was closer. Either way both wingers somehow ended up on the farside. When Fisher gets the puck, the Caps actually have the Predators outnumbered in the zone 5-4, with Suter having been knocked down at center ice. Brouwer stays back to watch for Suter. The remaining 4 Caps somehow all get transfixed on Weber and nobody picks up Erat pressing backdoor. The way I see it blame should actually be doled out like this:
Ovechkin: Caught cheating in neutral zone, cannot back check fast enough to cover Weber. Also back-checking lazily, which has become an unfortunate trend for him lately.
Schultz: Commits to Fisher too quickly. He has to see Weber all alone and adjust. Yes, Weber is not his fault, but at some point you have to be flexible.
Backstrom: Absolutely 0 backcheck. With Carlson cheating over to stop pass, Backstrom just lets Erat stroll right past him
Carlson: It is hard to really blame him here, but it would have been nice to see him get a piece of the pass. If he chooses to backcheck to the puck-side, he better not get beat.
NSH Goal: Wilson(4) from Erat
With under a minute to go, this game seemed destined for overtime. Then, in the blink of an eye, the Caps were left with 0 points on the night. Colin Wilson tracked down a loose puck in the Caps’ zone, but found himself without support. After doing his best Michael Nylander impression, he dumped the puck down to Erat in the corner. Erat gathers the puck behind the goal line and fire a pass back to Wilson who buries it in the gaping net. To add to it, Erat actually passed the puck between Vokoun and the post. Vokoun never stood a chance. This was the product of some bad luck and a poor decision.
After Wilson turns in the corner, Erskine actually loses his stick. The best theory I can come up with is that it got jammed along the boards and he dropped it. Without a stick, he is left to stop the pass from Wilson(low point) to Erat (goal line) without a stick. He tries to drop to a knee, but it goes for naught. This quick high-to-low transition leaves Vokoun away from his net. Wideman is the lone low man and chooses to cover the outside of Vokoun. This leaves Erat uncontested to try to hook it in or throw a pass back into the slow. Things are only worsened by a lack of pressure by Laich and Ward. They both are actually standing on the near circles, as Wilson breezes past a downed Erskine and finds the puck. Blame goes to: Erskine, Wideman, Ward, and Laich
NSH Goal: Weber(3) from Fisher: Empty Netter
With only 24.3 on the clock, a Caps comeback was pretty improbable. It quickly went to impossible as Fisher cleanly beat Backstrom off the draw, allowing Weber to fire the puck down into the empty net. All Wideman could do was wave his stick at in and pray. Only blame I can lay out here is on Backstrom who cleanly lost the faceoff.
This one is definitely a hard loss to swallow. Throughout the 2nd period and most of the 3rd, the Caps were the better team. They created chances off the rush and were still effective in hemming the Predators in their own zone. If Rinne was even a hair less stellar tonight, the Caps would have put 3-4 behind him and escaped with at least a point. While it was defensive miscues that led to the late collapse, it was easily the great work of Pekka Rinne that really beat the Capitals tonight.
The Caps will make their first trip to Winnipeg on Thursday. Selective memory will be important in this one, as the Caps will need to focus on their offensive success from this game and not dwell on the defensive gaffs.
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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.
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