Death. Taxes. The Caps' special teams struggling. If it wasn't for Columbus's power play and Atlanta's, Carolina's and Philly's penalty kill the Caps would be dead last in the NHL in both special teams categories. In fact, the Caps have given up the most power play goals and scored the second-fewest in the League. The power play was again powerless last night, going 1-for10 (including a stomach-churning 5-on-3 before there was any score in the first, a shorthanded breakaway against that resulted in an unsuccessful penalty shot and a shorthanded goal against into the empty net), and the penalty kill was 3-for-6 (which hides the fact that the third Nashville goals was, for all intents and purposes, also a power play marker as it was scored three seconds after a penalty expired and the Caps were still pinned down in their defensive zone). To paraphrase Jack Nicholson's Joker from "Batman," this team needs an enema. Hire a special teams specialist. Do more drills. Eat more spinach. I have no idea what the answer is, but the Caps had better find it fast.
The WaPo's coverage of the game is here, the WTimes' here.
In other NHL news:
- Mario Lemieux is in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. Get well soon, Mario - Mark Recchi needs some competition for the worst plus-minus in the League.
- Other relatively serious injuries abound, including Radek Bonk (torn groin - ouch), Eric Desjardins (shoulder), Martin Havlat (shoulder), Radek Dvorak (groin), Peter Bondra (groin) and Nick Boynton (knee). And don't worry - those links are to stories about the injuries, not whatever else your filthy minds can think of.
- Is The United Center that dark in person or just on TV? It looked like the Rangers and Blackhawks were skating on a sheet of dirt last night.
- On a tangentially hockey-related note, the Kris Beech Club has a new member. Joining Jaromir Jagr and Peter Bondra as home team guys whose jerseys I've owned who then got traded away is the first baseball player to be inducted - Brad Wilkerson. Got Wilk? The Nats don't any more.
- Hart: Nikolai Khabibulin (OT W, 30 saves on 31 shots against - back on top for a day)
- Ross: Marek Zidlicky, Alex Tanguay, Jarome Iginla, Jere Lehtinen (3 points each)
- Norris: Marek Zidlicky (2G, A, +1)
- Vezina: Phillippe Sauve (W, 31 saves on 32 shots against; who knew?)
- Richard: Marek Zidlicky, Steve Sullivan, Jarome Iginla, Jere Lehtinen (2G each)
- Calder: Vitaly Kolesnik (W, 20 saves on 21 shots against in his NHL debut)
- Aiken: Roberto "You Might As Well Trade Me Now Because I've Mailed It In" Luongo (3 goals against on 11 shots in just 13:22)