What was a positive for most of the sixty minutes of game time on Sunday - that despite being badly out-played and out-worked, the Caps were still within striking distance of the Flyers - quickly became a big negative thereafter, leaving Bruce Boudreau and his staff with fifty or so hours to try to turn things around after a series-tying loss that wasn't as close as the score.
Truth be told, through six periods of playoff hockey, the Caps have been the better team in just one of those stanzas. But as I've said before, this team struggles as a favorite and is at its best with its back against the proverbial wall, which is close to where they are right now (and that, my friends, is called putting lipstick on a pig).
A few thoughts on the game:
- The Caps had 18 giveaways. The Flyers had just seven. Jeff Schultz had a rough return to the lineup, with a game-high three giveaways, but the entire team seemed jittery all afternoon.
- Forty-one shots against in sixty minutes is wholly unacceptable. The last time the Caps allowed as many (and were outshot by a 17-shot margin) was in that egg they laid in Chicago on March 19 (which, incidentally, was their last loss).
- The power play was way too cute and tentative, and became increasingly so as the game progressed. Martin Biron rarely had any traffic in front of him, so even when the shots finally did come, they were usually pretty easy stops.
- At the other end of the ice, if the Caps' blueliners don't clear the front of the net and/or stick up for their netminder and the team goes 0-fer on the power play, expect the Flyers to keep running Cristobal Huet whenever they want.
- Related - I'm by no means advocating a change in goal, but you know that if Olie Kolzig was in net Sunday, there'd be a few Flyers with bruises on the backs of their legs.
- The Flyers obviously saw something on Friday night that led them to repeatedly try the homerun pass down the middle of the ice, and it was successful on the R.J. whooooooatahitbycampbell Umberger goal.
- Including the playoffs, the Caps are 15-5-1 with Steve Eminger in the lineup this season. Just sayin'.
- Encouraging stat alert: under Boudreau, the Caps were shut out four times during the regular season, and all four times they followed up the whitewash with a win.
- Mike Green followed up Friday night's brilliant third period with one of his worst performances of the year. Trying to beat two Flyer forwards without a pass? That's vintage Sergei Gonchar, and a reminder that Green is, well, green.
- Like Green, Alex Ovechkin tried to do too much by himself, which is partially his fault and partially the fault of his largely invisible linemates (the trio also was a combined minus-six on the night).
- It's too bad Matt Cooke isn't a finisher, because he had two unbelieveable opportunities to erase the goose egg on the scoreboard.
- Nicklas Backstrom threw an elbow at Mike Richards early in the third that went unnoticed (by the officials, at least).
- No more Tomas Fleischmann, please. He now has just two (admittedly huge) goals in his last 21 games, but continues to get a sweater and more minutes than Matt Bradley.
- The Caps' big faceoff advantage on Friday night disappeared on Sunday, with the Flyers winning 56% of the draws, including 13-for-22 (59%) in the offensive zone and 14-for-20 (70%) in the defensive zone. Like I said after Game 1, "that's a whole bunch of instant offense created and opposition chances that never get started." Unfortunately, this time that line applied to the Flyers.
- Further to that last point, Sergei Fedorov got owned in the dot, winning just eight of his 25 faceoffs on the night (32%). It was his worst night in the circle, percentage-wise, since January 5, and making matters even worse, he was a horrific 1-for-10 in the offensive zone. Oh, and think that when things get back to Philly that John Stevens may put Mike Richards out for important draws against the Caps' #91? The Flyers pivot is 10-for-14 (71%) against Fedorov through two games.