Perhaps the Caps have been guilty these past two games of believing some of their early-season press clippings. Maybe the overwhelmingly positive things that have been said about the team have also given the fans - myself included - a somewhat unrealistic sense of what to expect night-in, night-out from a team that is still miles away from contending for anything more than perhaps a playoff spot (that's two "perhaps," one "somewhat" and one "maybe" already - way to go out on a limb, J.P.).
But one thing that's not unrealistic to expect night-in, night-out is a disciplined, leave-it-all-on-the-ice effort from every single player. There shouldn't be selfish clearing attempts from superstars. There shouldn't be lazy offensive zone penalties. There shouldn't be players standing around waiting for pucks to get to them.
But all of those things were present last night, which was surprising, considering that a win last night would have vaulted the Caps into second place in the Southeast Division. Instead, they wake up this morning in fourth place, having been leap-frogged by Tampa Bay, and will face Boston - a team that beat them earlier in the week - tonight without Alex Semin and Chris Clark.
On the plus side, the Caps have followed up each of their first five regulation losses on the season with wins. Caps fans shouldn't necessarily expect a win tonight, but they certainly have every right to expect a better effort.
- Hart: Rod Brind'Amour (2G, including game-winner, 2A, +2, 65% faceoffs)
- Ross: Rod Brind'Amour, Erik Cole (4 points each)
- Norris: Duncan Keith (2A, +2, 2 hits, 2 blocked shots - coincidentally (?), he wears #2!)
- Vezina: Peter Budaj (25-save shutout win)
- Richard: Rod Brind'Amour, Jamie Langenbrunner, Sidney Crosby, Mike Ribeiro, Markus Naslund (2 G each)
- Calder: Travis Zajac (3A, +3, 2 takeaways, 2 blocked shots, 55% faceoffs won)
- Aiken: Kari Lehtonen (L, 3 goals on 7 shots against in just 16:46 of work)