Nuck'ling under

Well, there was a lot of emphasis, before the Caps game, on getting a strong start to the game. And they certainly came out firing, getting a penalty shot eighty seconds in, and drawing another penalty shortly thereafter. But they couldn't solve Luongo in those prime opportunities, and play started balancing out quickly.

Vancouver scored halfway through the period, when Neuvy left a juicy rebound close in, and the defense wasn't able to get over to clear it out. Kassian skated in before they could get there, and wristed a shot over Neuvy's glove. But the Caps didn't fold it in, and got a nice offensive flurry from the third line three minutes later, culminating in Chimmer tapping in Green's shot from the point.

At that point, overall (ie: not 5-on-5 close) fenwick was tied, and things were looking decent.

But it was a steep downhill slide from that point forward, possession-wise. The Caps did get the next goal (two minutes into the third), but that was about the only remaining bright spot. And the Canucks weren't terribly thrown off by losing the lead, as it took them only a minute to tie it up, and two more minutes to regain the lead.

I'd like to say that the Caps took control of the game after that to try to regain the lead, but that's not the case (although giving up a power play in the middle of that span didn't help). In fact, they only got four shot attempts the rest of the game (and one of those, I believe, was short-handed).

In the end, the game was an absolute disaster at even strength. In thirty-one minutes, 5-on-5 close, the Caps barely cleared 1/3 of corsi and fenwick. That's just a recipe for getting blown out, regularly.

The power play was handled pretty well by Vancouver; they put a man on OV, and dared the Caps to beat them with the rest of the team. Brouwer did get one good chance, but most of the power play shots were by Green, from up top. I think OV needed to take himself farther out of the play, to make more space for everyone else (and to give himself a chance for the occasional dart in behind the defender). In any event, in four power plays (two of which were abbreviated), there were only four shots. That's not bad, but it's unlikely to get it done against a good goaltender like Luongo.

And on the flip side, they gave up fifteen power play shots to Vancouver (on six opportunities). Somehow, they didn't allow any goals; I can only attribute that to a combination of good goaltending and an immense amount of luck.

I'm getting to the point of thinking something is fundamentally broken with this team, and I think it's largely a matter of effort. They have a lot of talent; they're not going to push the post-2004 lockout scoring record, but there is a lot of talent. But they can't sustain top effort over an entire game, or something.

I'm not sure what it is, but this team is just a little ways away from getting consistently blown out. I thought this was going to be a solid playoffs team, but I don't see that at all, now. I see a team lucky to be only two points off a point-a-game pace (tied for ninth), and headed in the wrong direction. If the goaltending falters even a little, they're headed for a very steep decline; they're just giving up far too many shots.

Well, maybe a visit to the City of Brotherly Love (boy, isn't that a joke, in this day and age?) will give them a bit of a boost. Let's hope. Go Caps!

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