Wednesday, October 22, 2008

9 Minutes

The Washington Capitals lost a game they should have won last night to the Calgary Flames, 2-1. The Caps were up 1-0 on Sergei Fedorov's beautiful redirection of an Alex Ovechkin pass. They were in control of the game in terms of both puck possession and physicality. Their freshly called up rookie defenseman Tyler Sloan had just laid out Daymond Langkow with a vicious but clean open ice hit. Calgary's Rene Bourque completely lost his cool and charged Sloan in an attempt at retribution. The result: 19 minutes in penalties and a 9 minute power play for the Capitals.

Calgary was about to implode. Again. Surely, the Caps would pot at least one goal during that stretch, and the Flames were not a team that played well from behind.

9 minutes later, the game was over and the Flames had won. The scoreboard just didn't show it yet. The Caps failed to score a single goal over the course of those nine minutes. Their momentum was totally stopped, and would not be regained. Teams simply do not rebound from that kind of atrocious effort.

Sure enough, after the penalty had expired and the Flames got a power play chance of their own Jerome Iginla potted a power play goal. The Caps and Flames were in a low scoring, plodding defensive game with absolutely no flow. It was the type of game Mike Keenan loves, and his teams win. And win they did.

Certainly, the officials deserve criticism for turning the game into a such a plodding, penalty filled affair as they piled make up call after make up call onto the scoresheet. But they cannot be faulted for what happened in that nine minute nightmare. Only the Caps players and their coach can bear that blame.

What went wrong? The Caps played too fancy, looking for a slam dunk at the far post instead of getting shots on net and applying pressure. They avoided high traffic areas like they were quarantined off. They managed ONLY 3 SHOTS. That's not anemic. It's full on flatlined. And that's exactly what the power play ineffectiveness did to the Caps last night. It killed them.

Part of the blame must also be laid at the feet of Coach Boudreau. He saw the same thing everyone else in the arena saw, namely that the Caps power play stunk. He could have made a drastic change to the power play linep. He could have simply rolled his top 3 lines as is without adjustments for the power play in order to keep the team playing its normal style. Instead, he let the putridity continue for all 9 minutes.

And the Caps paid the price.

1 comment:

Roger Padre said...

You are right on Derek. Defense and goaltending was not an issue. It was indeed a sad and pathetic 9 minutes. I don't think that I have ever seen any power play go that wrong for that long a period of time. It was outright revolting to see.