Given the fact that A) first place in the Southeast Division and B) just a measly playoff berth were both on the line tonight at Verizon Center, one wouldn't expect the game winning goal to be scored 13 seconds into the game. Nor would you expect a Florida Panthers team still quite alive in the playoff hunt to play the remaining 59:47 as if they had already packed up and headed home. That would be the case though, despite everyone up and down the Florida roster acknowledging how important the outcome of this game against the Capitals would be during this crucial stretch of games, they played the game as if they were in a different league. A 4-0 loss can be interpreted in many ways, but usually not as a blowout. However without any signs of life to praise, there is no way to dance around that designation.
The interesting note in all of this carnage is that it's only the second time the Panthers have dropped two consecutive games in regulation all year. Until recently, the justification for believing the Panthers were a playoff team relied on their penchant for gaining points in almost every game, but as the L column fills up that positive is slipping away. There still remain 30 games on the schedule, but only 9 until the season is essentially decided at the trade deadline. The Panthers once-firm grip on the postseason is simply no more as the whole year hangs by a thread; one more mistake and the walls come crashing down. A victory tonight could have solidified the Cats' standing, but a blowout makes the ground substantially softer and far more uncertain.Note: We're debuting a new format for game recaps, starting tonight. Bear with us as we work out the kinks!
-Mathieu Perreault(9) assists to Jason Chimera and Alexander Semin 00:13
-Alex Ovechkin(21) PPG assists to Dennis Wideman and Marcus Johansson 09:21
-Jason Chimera(15) SHG assists to John Carlson and Matt Hendricks 01:01
-Ovechkin(22) unassisted 11:47
- So, you thought we were done with giving up early goals, right? Well giving up a goal just 13 seconds in is probably as bad as its going to get, meaning nowhere to go but up, right?
- The silver lining to the injuries to Ed Jovanovski and Dmitry Kulikov is that rookie Erik Gudbranson is getting prime ice-time with Campbell to learn the ropes. His +/- aside, Guds has been doing all the right things despite being partnered with a guy not entirely known for his defensive play. Erik is well on his way to becoming a solid NHLer, plus he already has a mean streak going on.
- The Capitals hadn't scored a powerplay goal in seven games before tonight. Lovely.
- Though some wonder why the Capitals traded away a first round pick for Troy Brouwer, he's proved himself to be incredibly valuable and a perfect fit into the Washington organization. The guy is well on his way to score a career high 24 goals while sitting 8th in the league in hits. This is exactly the kind of trade a smart GM will make.
- While we're on the topic of Capitals praise, what an amazing season Chimera is having. 15 goals in fifty some games for a guy on the lower lines getting PK time, something no one ever expected. Also, Matt Hendricks is totally awesome, but enough of that, we're supposed to be rivals.
- The shorthanded goal by the Capitals pretty much sums up the Panthers over the last 2 months. When the shorthanded team has a 3-on-2 and both defenders lose track of the puck, there's a problem. Not to mention one Capital was left to fend off 3 Panthers in the neutral zone; that's not aggressive penalty killing as much as it is terrible backchecking.
- "Don't forget to buy your playoff tickets in bulk!" --Michael Yormark during the first intermission.
- Scott Clemmensen has been far from great in the last two games, but with horrid defense and no help from his forwards I laugh at the "When is Theodore coming back?" questions being thrown out after every goal. There are bigger problems than goaltending to tackle at this point.
- I'm still standing by the whole lack of leadership thing as the explanation as to why we suck. Just a hunch when your team has no direction.
- Back when I played hockey, every coach I ever had told me not to "run around like chicken with your head cut off", not that I was guilty of doing that, but just as advice when things aren't going well. That was my most basic lesson in 6 seasons of hockey, yet the Panthers are doing just that lately. If we aren't going to make the playoffs, at least make the rest of the season something that can be built upon next year. That means get back to the basics.
- Florida sure has been playing various forms of the "trap" lately. Maybe because it's incredibly easy to shut down the Panthers forwards when they're in a hole. That's not the sign of a playoff team.
- Give Washington credit, at least they got up for this game that may just decide the fate of the Southeast Division.
- So Billy Lindsay gets burned after piling it on Ovechkin. Tsk tsk, you knew that was coming.
- Tomas Vokoun had a 42 save shutout, which sounds impressive if you didn't watch the game. If you did, you know he didn't have to work terribly hard for it.
Chris' First Star: Keaton Ellerby, went even in +/- and got roughed up all game, but he's a trooper.
Chris' Worst Star: Lots of qualifiers, but I'll go with Kris Versteeg(and the rest of the top line) for a completely invisible game. Also a nod to Clemmensen, though I still don't think he should bear the burden of the loss.