Photo credit: Rob Carr
Shutout and embarrassed by the New York Rangers. Now where have I heard that before? The Caps certainly did their best December 12 impression on Friday night, with the added twist of dropping the game in front of their home fans, who didn’t respond kindly.
“I am absolutely not happy,” said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I mean our fans deserve better. That’s three games in a row at home. You know, we deserved to get booed there. It’s not fun when you come home and you got the best fans in the world and you play like that.”
The first action in the contest came when Jason Chimera delivered a hard check along the boards to the Rangers’ Michael Sauer, who didn’t take well to Chimera’s rough play. After a little back and forth the two dropped the gloves with neither getting too much of an upper hand. Just under six minutes into the game the period got ugly for the Caps. It started when Mike Green and Derek Stepan went for the puck in the corner with Stepan catching Green with an elbow. The recently injured Green immediately hit the ice, clutching his head before heading to the locker room as soon as play stopped. Just seconds after Green’s injury Steve Eminger gave the Rangers the lead, as the puck knuckled past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. At 14:47 in the period Sauer got into the action again setting up Erik Christensen in front of Washington’s net, putting New York up by two. The Capitals would get a chance to rally when Alex Ovechkin skated down the wing, beat Ryan McDonagh, and fired a shot on Rangers ‘keeper Henrik Lundqvist as he slid down the ice on his rear. Sounds familiar, eh? This time, however, Ovi was unsuccessful.
In the second frame, things would only get worse for the Capitals. At 4:19, while on the power play, Christensen would pot his second of the night, set up by an excellent backhand pass from Ryan Callahan. The Caps in-game entertainment crew responded by playing “Unleash the Fury” much earlier than usual. But that did little to stop Washington’s poor play as later in the period Stepan would extend New York’s lead to four after a misplay by Neuvirth.
In the third, the Rangers put a five-spot on the Caps when Vinny Prospal flicked a wrist shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder. But that wouldn’t be it. Brian Boyle would extend the lead once again in the waining moments of the game. Are you still reading? Rangers rout Caps, 6-0.
This was simply an awful showing from the men in red.
“It is just crazy how many goals they put in against us,” Knuble said. “It is not fun for us. Is it something they are doing? Are they that great offensively? Or are we really breaking down? That is for all of us to decide in our room.”
“I think it’s probably the worst home loss I have been associated with in ten years plus,” said Boudreau.
Now, the team is left to pick of the pieces from this disaster and move on.
“It has been a little bit maddening for us,” Knuble said. “We haven’t been able to mount a sustained streak. We have had streaks in losses. We have sustained those, but not the winning ones. To gain ground this time of year you have got to throw two, three, four wins together… it is not who we are. We are better team than a team that loses one, wins one, win two, lose two. We are a better team than .500 hockey. That is for sure.”
Said Matt Hendricks, “Well, there are answers out there. We are going to find them.”
With only 20 games left this season, those answers can’t come soon enough.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.
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