Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Home Opener Heartbreak: Caps lose to Jets 4-2

The title says it all. The Capitals lost to Jets 4-2 in their season home opener at the Verizon Center last night.  Besides the first 10 minutes of the first period, it was really hard game to watch. But before I get too in depth with my analysis, let me break down the game.

Basically how the game went

The Capitals came into the game sitting a 0-1-0 after the third period collapse in Tampa. The Jets were playing their third game in four days, going 0-1-1 after a 4-1 loss to Ottawa and 2-1 shootout loss at Boston.  Everything seemed to be in the Caps favor before the puck dropped.  They had home ice advantage, they had an energized fan base ready to "Rock the Red" for the first home game of the season, and they had a few days of rest and preparation.

The first period began and went for about 10 minutes with no whistles. Just back and forth hockey between the two teams.  Then Hendricks opened up the scoring on a deflection off of a Backstrom pass.  The play went to review and was called a good goal because it bounced off of his skate and then his stick before getting past Pavelec. But it didn't take long for the Jets to respond.  About a minute into a Ward tripping penalty, Evander Kane took a shot from the side of the net that deflected off of Carlson's skate and dribbled past Holtby. Four minutes later the Jets scored again, this time Adam Ladd beating Holtby for another power play goal.  At this point everyone could tell that the PK unit was in trouble yet again.

After being trailing in shots 13-8, the Caps just seemed to let the Jets get into their own rhythm.  They got more aggressive and dominated the second period by out shooting the Caps 20-9.  Wheeler and Slater also added two more goals in the final 6 minutes of the period to take a 4-1 lead.

With the scoreline in Winnipeg's favor, Hendricks tried to get the crowd and the team back into the game by picking a fight with Jim Slater at the end of the second period but it only slightly improved their play.


Hendricks was one of the few who showed up last night
During the final 20 minutes, the Capitals finally started to wake up and play the game. They started to get chances but just kept coming up short. Hendricks dropped his gloves for the second time but couldn't do enough to get the Caps back into the game. Then with a 1:16 to play, Carlson finally put one past Pavelec on the power play to make it 4-2.  After the goal, Ribeiro got called for an Unsportsmanlike conduct for chirping the refs about missed high sticking calls and then got tossed from the game. Pretty much summed up the night for the boys in red.

It still seems like the Caps are locked out physically and mentally. After last nights performance, there is a lot of work to be done across the board. They lost in every stat category except for hits but getting 9 more hits won't win you a game if you let them out shoot you for 40 minutes and give them 5 power play chances. You can attribute that to the lack of conditioning or adjusting to a new system but I believe that there is still enough talent on this team to keep games close at the very least.

Outside of the stats, the Caps didn't seem to play with the passion that we have come to expect from them game in and game out.  Defense, offense, and goal-tending all looked flat last night. Hendricks and few others are the exception to that. There were a select few, mostly the newcomers, that made positive contributions almost every time they were on the ice.  Had the entire team played like they did, working hard every shift to try and make something happen, I think the Caps would have come away with two points instead of dropping to 0-2 for the first time in over 15 years.

In a shortened season like this, every game matters.  The Capitals have 46 games left to figure out what they need to do and to get it into gear fast if the want to play past that 48th game. Next game is at 7:00 PM ET tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadiens who are 1-1-0 on the season.  Verizon Center better be rocking because this team needs all the help they can get.

As always, Lets Go Caps!

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