There’s only 8 games to go in the season, and the Caps are starting to feel the pressure. 4 out of their last 5 regulation losses have come at the hands of Southeastern Division teams, and 5 of their next 8 games are against division foes. Barring some miracle the Caps should remain at the top of the Southeast by the end of the season.
However, as for now the Caps aren’t really playing like they are one of the best teams in the NHL, or the Eastern Conference for that matter. They are an average 5-4-1 in their past 10 games giving up 27 goals in those outings.
Now before we start pointing fingers at Theodore, I’d like to place a little blame on the Caps D. Theo is 20-9-3 with a 2.57 GAA and a .911 save % since Dec. 23, and in those 9 loses he has been hung out to dry. Numerous times players have been left alone in front to get 2 or 3 chances to put the puck in the net.
Joni Pitkanen–a defenseman none-the-less–was able to pick up a rebound and skate almost to the other side of the net without getting touched. Anton Babchuk had a similar goal to put the Canes up 3-1 but this time he had 2 whacks at the puck. Each time the Caps D was staring at the puck and not moving their feet towards the puck.
The Caps also failed to convert on 4 powerplays 3 of them coming in the 3rd period. There were also some other questionable calls including a dive handed out to Tomas Fleischmann. Bruce Boudreau expressed his concerns with the officiating to Tarik El-Bashir of the Post…
“There’s no chance [Fleischmann’s penalty] was a dive,” said Boudreau. “His leg got corkscrewed. Then on Green’s, when they went to the double minor, they cross-checked him in the head and then Pitkanen went at [Green]. Pitkanen goes at him and Mike retaliates and there still was only two [minutes] given each.”
Either way I was taught to never blame the refs for a loss. Plus the Caps had as many chances as Carolina on the powerplay, but they just came up short.
Mike Green scored a goal in his 4th straight game leading all defensemen in that category as well as in points. Green broke the goal-scoring streak record by a defensman earlier this season with 8 and is almost unstoppable.
At this point in the season with the playoffs right around the corner, we want to see the Caps dominating, but that’s not the case. A lot of teams are on the bubble this year to get into the playoffs, so the last 8 games are going to be tight. However, Washington needs to start executing their system better to prepare for playoffs, but at this point I’m not too nervous about the Caps playing a 7-game series against anyone in the East.