The Washington Capitals fell to the Boston Bruins 5-2 in their regular season Home Opener on Wednesday. The Caps dug themselves an early 3-0 hole that they couldn’t come back from.
The team’s new, number one goaltender Darcy Kuemper was greeted in his debut with four goals against on 29 shots.
After the game, head coach Peter Laviolette and some of his players put that poor debut more on the team’s defensive effort as a whole than anything Kuemper did himself.
“I thought [Kuemper] was good,” Laviolette said. “I don’t think we were very good in front of him.”
The Bruins put three goals past Kuemper before the first half of the game had elapsed. The Caps would get the next two but could not tie in the third period.
“Obviously, going down 3-0 is a tough hole to come back from,” Kuemper said. “We did a great effort pushing back but couldn’t get it tonight. I thought we did a good job taking over the game there that second half. We really dug in which is a good sign after that early hole. I think it’s tough to come back offensively when teams can sit on a lead like that, but we put in a really good effort. Just weren’t able to get it.”
MoneyPuck had the 32-year-old netminder’s goals saved above expected total as minus 1.1 after the game, meaning that by the math he basically gave up one bad goal. The 2022 Stanley Cup champion put that on the second-period David Pastrnak goal that beat him five-hole clean.
Spaghetti spin zone. 🍝 pic.twitter.com/RA165fEZTi
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 12, 2022
“They got one on the power play off a rebound and a second one that I picked up a little bit late,” Kuemper said. “Other than that I felt pretty good about my game. Obviously, not happy with the result. It always sucks losing the first game of the year, especially the Home Opener. There was a lot of good things from everyone out there, we just got to make sure we’re ready from the start.”
Laviolette though defended his new goaltender.
“The Pastrnak one was a quick turnaround,” Laviolette said. “It’s tricky where it comes through a screen, and you’re not quite ready for it. But, the rest of them we gotta do better things in front of him. I thought defensively we could have done things better, especially in the first period.”
Natural Stat Trick shows that overall in the game at five-on-five, the Bruins recorded 24 scoring chances to the Capitals’ 18. The Bruins’ had 10 high-danger chances to the Caps’ 7.
“It’s on us to be tighter defensively,” forward Anthony Mantha said.
The hockey play here was strong. pic.twitter.com/3ZTuxHgUFM
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 13, 2022
That was a sentiment also echoed by defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk.
“We didn’t get off to the start we wanted,” van Riemsdyk said. “We just didn’t simplify, get pucks in, and we saw when we did do that we played a much better game. I thought as the game went on we did get better, we created more, but just dug ourselves too big a hole to start.
“We have nothing but confidence in [Kuemper],” he added. “We hung him out to dry a couple of times and he bailed us out. He’ll be good to go. I’m not even going to think twice about it.”
The Capitals will get an immediate chance to turn things around as they’ll take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The Leafs lost their season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, too. Ilya Samsonov will be in net against his former club. The Capitals have not yet confirmed if Kuemper will get another start or if backup Charlie Lindgren will make his debut.
Regardless, questions after one game surrounding the play of the team’s defense and big free-agent acquisition goaltender isn’t the start the Capitals had hoped for.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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