Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flatline at the Deadline

Can a team trade for some self-respect? How about for a swift kick in the pants?

I'm sure the Capitals might give up a prospect for one or the other after last night's dismal "performance" at Verizon against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Boudreau tells reporters that Michal Neuvirth didn't know until two hours before game time that he'd be the starting goaltender. How that plays into a poor defensive effort, and lackluster passing, it's not clear. But, knowing the mental game that many -- if not most -- goaltenders have, it couldn't have helped with the mere 14/19 saves through the second period.

The most disappointing aspect of the game last night was that apparently only three, maybe four guys showed up ready to play at all, and it can be assumed that everyone else knew they were playing with much more than two hours of lead time (except maybe Kronwall, but he seems to understand that right now). The sole bright spot was that Alexander Semin continued his streak with a goal (his 100th NHL) and an assist on a birthday that I'm sure otherwise was not worth celebrating. He also kept out of the penalty box, despite some wicked stick moves to strip the puck away from various 'Canes.

Lazy stick moves were all the rage with the defense, though, with the worst of the bunch coming with just over thirty seconds left in the first period. Shaone Morrisonn was overall a disappointment last night, despite some redeeming moves in the third, after hooking down Eric Staal from behind, resulting in a penalty shot.

Even though the power play managed to score one late in the second, the effort was so abysmal that the 'Canes scored two short-handed goals that went in so easily, they looked like they were the ones with the man advantage. Point coverage was spotty, at best, so keeping the puck in the offensive zone was a trial. It's surprising the Capitals managed to accrue 41 shots on goal with the constant neutral zone turnovers, and the intercepted passes. Speaking of which, the Hurricanes also seemed to always know where to put a stick to interfere with the cross-ice passes; why the Capitals persisted in continuing to try such passes deep into the third period is a mystery.

As the trade deadline winds down, whispers in the cool DC air speak of Nylander to some other metropolis, or possibly a goaltender acquisition so as not to "ruin" Michal Neuvirth. A defensive defenseman, or a leader for the locker room are other wishes.

However, the double dose of "Reality Check" fed to the team by Southeast Division rivals over the last two games, where the Capitals have been outscored 11-4, at home no less, may be all that is necessary.

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