Well, leading into tonight's game against the Flyer's, there was a lot going on with the Caps. First, Orlov got a (deserved) two-game suspension for his hit that resulted in the major in the last game. Second, Hillen has finally recovered from his broken leg, so he was called back from his (rather brief, it seems) conditioning stint in Hershey. Third, Penner was acquired from the Ducks for a 4th round pick (the same pick the Caps acquired in the Perreault trade). Fourth, Erat was finally traded, and brought back Klesla and a decent minor league prospect (3rd line potential, from what I hear). Fifth, Klesla was packaged with Neuvy, and sent to Buffalo to get Halak (traded a few days ago from St Louis to Buffalo in the Ryan Miller trade). Sixth, since Halak couldn't make it in time, Gru was called up from Hershey. Seventh, Ryan Stoa was recalled to fill out the fourth line.
So that left a defense of Carlson-Alzner, Green-Hillen, and Erskine-Carrick; not exactly an encouraging group.
So how did that work out? In a word, badly. In two words, very badly.
The Caps managed all of three shots in the first period, and that includes a power play. They had two good scoring chances in there, and Brouwer pushed one a couple inches wide (the other was a fairly nice save from Mason). The biggest surprise for me, when it was done, was that they held Philadelphia to only thirteen shots. Not because that's a great number, but just because it felt like Philly spent most of the period in the Caps zone.
The Flyers got two goals in there, and could have easily had more. The first came off a bad play by Hillen, while the second was just the result of Philadelphia pressure from the Giroux line.
What was interesting was that the Caps power play came after a line brawl precipitated by Wilson going after Luke Schenn for a hit on Stoa (which wasn't too bad, although it could have been, as it occurred at the corner where the boards to back behind the bench. If I had to guess, Wilson was told to start something to try to get his teammates to wake up). Simmonds wanted into the mix, and things spiraled from there. Erskine and Lecavalier were both ejected (normally, I'd applaud this exchange, but it did leave the Caps with only five defensemen). Wilson was initially ejected, but it was later reduced to a normal (rather than game) misconduct. Simmonds, for several dirty plays in the sequence, should have been ejected, I thought. In any event, it was one hell of a weird sequence, especially for having very few punches thrown in earnest (for whatever reason, most of them seemed pretty half-hearted).
One bit of amusement was, during the replay, having an announcer saying that no one was sitting down for this, and seeing two of the people right behind the glass still sitting to watch.
The second period was largely going the same way (minus the fighting) for the first half, and Philly scored two more to blow the game open. That's when I decided to turn it off, because the Caps just didn't look like they were even prepared to play.
Looking at the results, that was an ok decision. Gru came in to replace Holtby (even though Braden was not the problem; he just had complete shit for defense in front of him), and he seems to've done a pretty good job (only one more goal against).
And the team seems to've woken up a bit afterwards (although maybe it was just Philly relaxing, with the four-goal margin). Ward, OV, and Laich all scored on the power play, with Brouwer adding another at evens. But it wasn't enough, and Downie added an empty netter in the final minute to seal the game.
Extraskater is still crunching the numbers, but does have the fenwick chart up, and it appears that the fenwick numbers were only close for a couple minutes in the beginning, and a few more minutes in the third quarter of the final period.
Basically, the Caps did not look ready to play one of the biggest games of the season. And that's largely on the coaching staff.
There isn't much time until the next game; less than twenty-four hours, in fact, until they need to take the ice in Boston again. Let's just say that my expectations are... low.
The only positive I got out of the game was that Penner looked pretty good; left me wondering why his contract is so low. If they can sign him next year for a similar contract, they should definitely do it.
I would expect Halak to get the start tomorrow, although that's purely speculation on my part.
Anyway, we'll see what happens. Go Caps!