Sunday, April 12, 2009
Panthers 7 Caps 4
Well, the 2008-09 Washington Capitals regular season began with a 7-4 stinkbomb on the road against a Southeast Division opponent, why shouldn't it end that way? I guess the good news is that nobody died or got hurt. If nothing else, the Caps are good at keeping the fanbase on their toes.
All coach Bruce Boudreau was looking for in this game was to head into the playoffs on a high note. Preferably with a strong defensive effort in front of Jose Theodore. It wasn't too much to ask against the Florida Panthers, who were just eliminated from playoff contention. The game was meaningless. Plus, the Caps came into this same arena, against this same team a month ago and held them to 0 shots in the 3rd period. Shouldn't be too hard, right?
Umm, yeah. The Caps turned in one of the worst defensive efforts they have put on this year. It was a litany of bad pinches, poor puck-moving and too many odd-man rushes. The Caps D had no answer for Florida's David Booth, who racked up two goals and three assists. Even though he gave up 6 goals, Theo was mostly hung out to dry, facing a lot of two-on-ones, tipped shots and breakaways. Although he's played at a Norris Trophy level all season, Mike Green was maybe the worst offender. He got burned up ince on bad pinches for a breakaway goal by Radek Dvorak (who skated within 3 feet of Theodore and took a slapshot. My old teammate Louie would be proud) and a 2-on-1 goal by Booth. Greener's not going to want to send this one in on the Norris resume tape.
Besides that, the Caps as a team were outskated and outworked by the Panthers. They were fortunate to be in this one to begin with, and when Alex Ovechkin scored #56 to tie the game at 4 late in the 3rd period, it looked like the Caps may escape. But as was the case all night, the mental focus wasn't there and the Panthers scored two goals in 8 seconds (both on odd-man rushes) to end any hope for Washington. Just a very poor effort all around and not the way you want to go into the playoffs.
The only thing we did find out last night is who the Caps will be facing in the 1st round. And your winner is: the New York Rangers. Game 1 will mark the first time in almost a month the Caps have faced a playoff team. I'll have a little preview up here early next week but needless to say, the A-game is going to be needed. A first round exit is no longer acceptable. Now we're going to see if this team is the bunch that went 4-1 against NHL heavy hitters Boston and Detroit, or the team that got beat 4-1 at home by the 2nd worst team in the NHL.
Here's last night's horrorshow as documented by NHL.com.
So, it's on to the Stanley Cup playoffs and a date with the boys from Gotham City. But for one last time in the regular season, let's say good night to da bad guys.