Looking pretty bad: Panthers beat Caps 5-2

The Washington Capitals continued their trip through the disputed lands of Florida with Tuesday’s game against the Panthers. The Caps got trounced for the first forty minutes and lost another agonizing game.

The Caps blew a breakout, allowing Sasha Barkov to light up Darcy Kuemper. Sam Reinhart batted a puck out of midair to make it 2-0. Late in a brutal second period, Dylan Strome went short-side through a screen to make it 2-1. Despite a ton of pressure from Washington in the third, prodigal quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​sailed in a goal to make it 3-1. On a delayed penalty, John Carlson caught a slot pass and brought the score within one, but Verhaege won a net-front scramble and added an empty-netter.

Caps loose. They’re 3-5-2 in their last ten games.

Here’s, ugh, here’s reverse Bailamos again.

  • The Capitals are now goalless in their last twenty-one power plays. They scored their last power-play goal on April 12, 1955.
  • This was a distinctly unfun game, as the Capitals couldn’t come close to competing with Florida’s all-zone competence until the third period. I don’t think the Caps had any matchups that worked out, and all their best early chances (the Strome goal, the Mantha chance in the first minute) came off flukes. Meanwhile, here’s how Washington looked in their own zone:
  • The Caps played much, much better in the third period, the product I think of improved focus and (for a while) Florida’s relaxed forecheck. Then Cousins ​​goal slowed that momentum down but could not stop it. The Caps funneled a ton of offense on net in that frame. (Where was that in the first two periods?)
  • Lars Eller got penalized for an illegal check to the head. I’ve got two problems with this: a) all checks to the head should be illegal, and b) this was not a check to the head. Eller hit Carter Verhaeghe squarely in the chest.
  • In the preseason, I predicted that gambling ads would continue to spread but that they wouldn’t reach in-game broadcasts. I was wrong.
  • Briefly, I think that stinks. I’m not a moralist; Gamble away, but I think it’s a sickness that makes big media outlets seek to convert every audience member into a gambler. The industrial scale at which we’re extracting wealth from the working class is – well, it’s not good.
  • Peter Laviolette, back from COVID but also wearing a mask to confuse everyone about his precise status, would not settle on lines. I saw Ovechkin with Kuznetsov and Milano to start, but then Ovechkin out with Sheary and Milano, and then out with Kuznetsov and Protas in the third. I think it’s safe to say he’s desperate to get five-on-five production from his top line.

I’m again reminding myself that the Caps are just treading water. Their roster is still majorly injured, so I shouldn’t get dispirited when they play terribly in consecutive games against good teams. But, hoo boy, this was another miserable game. Purely as an entertainment product, the Washington Capitals have been dismal this season. That’s not good news for a lot of reasons – especially if you, like me, are in the write-about-the-capitals business.

St Louis on Thursday.

Headline photo: @real_jon_c

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