The Caps game last light was rather the continuation of frustration.
I must admit, given how the Flyers have been doing recently compared to how the Caps have been going, I didn't have a very good feeling about the game to begin with. Going down by a goal in the first period, and then another in the second, did not help that. Getting a pair of ugly goals in the third certainly felt nice, but it was the better team that
won when the Flyers scored in OT.
Neuvy did not have a good night in goal. The goal that he allowed in the first was a terrible one. Given that he was pulled after the first, and was described as having a "lower-body injury", I'm guessing he must have pulled something (groin being the most likely culprit), and that likely contributed to the failure. On the plus side, he did look pretty good after that, but didn't stay in the game long enough to make up for that lapse.
As a side note, I hope I'm not the only one annoyed by those injury descriptions; they're supremely unuseful. And frankly, I don't buy the official explanation that it's to protect players from having vulnerable spots hit. After all, when Knuble hurt his jaw, or Matty P broke his nose, it was very obvious what was wrong (the extra protection being a less-than-subtle hint). And as a fan trying to follow the team, it's very frustrating.
Getting back to the game, the defense was fairly spotty throughout. There were some very nice plays made to stifle some chances, but the goalies were really hung out to dry several times, as well. The offense was pretty poor through the first two periods. There were a few nice chances generated (and OV hit another crossbar), but there was almost no sustained play in the offensive zone. That meant that the defense was being pressured far too often. Given that, perhaps I should say that the defense played well. Perhaps.
In the third, the offense was significantly better, although I attribute some of that to Philly being willing to play an up-tempo, up-and-down game (why, I won't even try to speculate; maybe they were trying to embarass the Caps). They hit two more posts (one of which was MarJo's shot off a turnover that Knuble buried), and a number of very good chances. And Backstrom got his
300th career point on OV's goal forty seconds after the Knuble goal.
The penalty kill did the job in their only appearance, which was good. The power(-less, of late) play didn't even get on the ice. Given the success on that side of the ledger, of late, perhaps that's a good thing.
The wonky line-juggling that we've seen for the last couple of games continued, although I have to wonder how much of that was driven by having DJ in the lineup (with his 4:24 of ice time). The more I see of him, the less I understand why the Caps traded for him. Stefan Della Rovere hasn't done much for the Blues (and perhaps he'd have done even less for the Caps), but his cap hit would have been smaller than DJ's, and he might well have contributed more (at least for the Bears).
Looking at the larger picture, I'm really disturbed by the lack of effort by the players, particularly at the beginning of games. While it is impressive that they've managed to come back from so many early deficits, it's a serious indictment of their effort that they've had to. I had hoped that eight-game losing streak would have knocked some sense into them (and it seemed to, for a while), but they've gone back to coasting for the first period or two. The fact that playing the top team in their division or conference isn't enough to cut through that is also very damning.
And that just isn't going to cut it, come playoff time. There's a pretty good chance that the Caps will need to beat the Flyers if they want a chance at the Cup, and they haven't shown any reason to believe that they can. Yes, four points in three games is far from a disaster, but they've mostly played down, and that's not encouraging (especially when backed up by noting that every series the Caps have played with Boudreau at the helm has gone seven games).
I'm again wondering about Bruce Boudreau being the right guy for the coaching position. Motivation is his number one job, and it ain't happening.
Maybe they can do a bit better against the Rangers tomorrow night. Certainly, they'd have a hard time doing worse than the last tilt with the Rangers.