photo credit - Jim Mone / AP
The Washington Capitals must be getting ready for Halloween by practicing their best impression of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Or so it seemed when they showed up (or didn't) to take on the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy center last night. Micheal Neuvirth, who turned in a perfect performance last night in Raleigh, NC, once again had a great game tonight, and was probably the only reason this game was not a blow out. This was another goaltenders duel as both Neuvirth and Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom both turned in great performances for their respective clubs. The guys in front of him however, well the difference was night and day. Last night they looked energized and like they had a purpose. Tonight, like they were sleepwalking through much of the game.
The Capitals looked tired, sloppy, even lazy at times, taking dumb penalties, making lazy passes which led to several golden scoring chances for the Wild, and once again not finding the back of the net. Mustering only 17 shots on goal didn't help matters either. The Caps continue to give away power play chances like Halloween candy, allowing the Wild 5 chances tonight. It proved too much. While the PK has been pretty good, its not quite good enough to repeatedly tempt fate, and also factored into them at least not getting any standings points tonight, and possibly even a win. Once again, the power play was held scoreless, and has only connected on 4 of 38 opportunities. That leaves them at just 10.5% on the man advantage over the first 10 games, and thats good for only 25th in the NHL. The Caps also again gave up the early lead to the opposition thanks in large part to very poor and lazy defencive play of Jeff Schultz and John Carlson which directly resulted in the Wild's first goal. I think the majority of the blame for that one has to fall on Carlson though. Have a look and let me know what you think here:
Things would not change much for most of the night and the Capitals come away still winless all time at Xcel Energy center. Maybe its that the Caps NEED to play in front of a loud crowd to help wake them up on the road at times. The crowd in St. Paul is usually more like what you might find at a Funeral. There were 17,352 there tonight, but for about 58 and 1/2 minutes of the game, it sounded like it was empty. At any rate, all of this made for a very forgettable game, but one the Caps are going to have to use to learn from if they are to see the err of their ways. Almost every aspect of the Caps game is going to have to drastically improve, but especially the ones I find myself mentioning over and over, night after night, if the Caps are going to even think about repeating any of the great accomplishments of last season. There were at least a couple of bright spots once again however. Alex Ovechkin finally found the net scoring his first goal in 5 games with just about 1 minute to go in regulation, but it was too little too late. The other was of course Neuvirth, who has given the Caps at least the CHANCE to win almost every night he has been in goal, including tonight. At least the Caps will have a day off to rest, think, and prepare for the Calgary Flames in Calgary this Saturday night.