Wasn't able to see most of the Caps game tonight; I forgot to check which channel it was on, and don't have the DVR programmed on the alternate channel. I turned the game on late, just to make sure the DVR wasn't running out of space, and saw that I wasn't, but I wasn't getting the game either.
Plus, when I got the game on, there was a minute left in the second period, and that the score was 4-0. Ouch.
So, I watched the rest of the period, got to see an apparent Perreault goal (later credited to Hendricks), And I set the recorder to get the rest of the game (breaking my normal rule of turning off when the margin reaches four goals).
After we got the kids in bed, I went back to watch the third, and found a few things that surprised me. The Caps apparently didn't show up for the first period, giving up all four goals in that frame. Neuvy gave up three of those (on six shots), and was pulled. And things started going wrong fast, with Hamr getting a delay of game penalty only nine seconds in (and yes, the Sabres scored on the resultant power play).
What probably surprised me the most, however, was seeing the stats as of the end of the second. They were actually pretty close across the board. The penalty kill hadn't, allowing two goals in three opportunities, and the power play wasn't, not scoring in their three chances. Mixed things about the power play came out, though, from the announcers and stats provided. It had allowed a couple of short-handed chances (that went off the post), but had gotten seven shots in those three chances.
But the rest of it looked pretty close. The Caps were ahead in shots, by one; behind in scoring chances, but closer than I expected at 11-9. Those are really the most important things, in terms of predicting success or failure going forward, and that wasn't bad. It certainly didn't sound like a recipe for a three-goal margin.
But you could certainly argue that the Caps were closing the gap in garbage time, and that the game was basically decided while things were markedly uneven. And I wouldn't be terribly surprised if that was the case.
What I do know is that the Caps came out in the third and played pretty well. Not nearly well enough to make up a three goal margin, but not too badly. And they took a couple of bad penalties (actually, the tripping call on Laich was a horrible one; the guy just lost an edge); the one by Perreault was really terrible (especially given that it wasn't a particularly hard hit), and came at a horrendous time. I wouldn't be surprised if that penalty keeps Matty P out of, at least, the next game. Not smart.
On the plus side, Sasha Minor did draw a tripping call, cashed in by Sasha Major (assisted by Backstrom, of course, with a very nice screen by Laich). So the power play didn't end up completely futile, at least.
And the PK did stop the last two penalties. So there was that.
But the root of the problem is, of course, that the Caps still think they can win all their games by playing hard in the last period. And that will never work, in the long term. I wish that message would finally get through; it isn't exactly a new phenomenon.
The Rangers are coming to visit on Wednesday, let's hope that the Caps show up at 7:05.