Here is a quote from Bruce Boudreau after last night’s game:
“We were a half a step behind all the time there.”
Now, Boudreau was only talking about the sequence that led to Mike Fisher’s game-winning goal in overtime, but it seemed like there were large stretches of the game that could also fit into that category. Washington was outshot 44-27, and with the exception of the Flash-Nylander-Semin line, didn’t generate a lot of quality chances on Senators goalie Alex Auld.
“We didn’t have a ton of great ones, but we had a couple good ones,” Boudreau said.
Added Brooks Laich: “I don’t know what to say, we’re just kind of in a funk right now. We’re working hard, but we’re not working hard enough. We are not making smart enough plays, and we’ve got to get this thing turned around.”
* Brent Johnson was great, stopping 42 of 44 shots. He and the PK kept the Caps in the game and helped them snare a point. Johnson made a great play on a Daniel Alfredsson breakaway in the first period, and had a couple of big saves in overtime. The only two goals he allowed were on a 1-on-0 breakaway for Dany Heatley and the Fisher goal, a one-timer during OT when the play was scambled.
“Fabulous game,” Boudreau said. “[Goalie coach] Dave Prior said it might have been the best structurally he’s played as a Capital. He did everything he could to keep us in it.”
Boudreau would not commit to starting Johnson on Thursday against Carolina, but it is hard to imagine that he won’t. Johnson now has a .914 save pct. and a 2.47 GAA in four games. As of 11 p.m. he would rank 12th and 11th in the NHL in those categories, but he has not played enough to qualify.
Jose Theodore’s .877 save percentage and 3.44 GAA are 29th and tied for 31st, respectively.
*The PK entered the night 18th in the league at exactly 80 percent, but killed off all five chances for the Senators. Two of them (the 5-on-3 for 1:57 and the double-minor on Sergei Fedorov) were particularly large.
The problem for the Caps is Ottawa took only one penalty in the game — and Dany Heatley stepped out of the box and into a breakaway goal. Washington has now taken 65 minor penalties in 11 games, which is tied for 21st with three other teams that have all played more games than the Caps.
Washington has taken less penalties than the opposition in only one game this season.
“It is hard to not take more when you get one against you,” Boudreau said. “You look at how the penalties were. [Fedorov]’s second one wasn’t the smartest play, but he wasn’t trying to do anything. He was just mad at himself. Brooks Laich putting us two men down wasn’t a great penalty but at the same time I am having a tough time finding fault in the penalties there were taken. Alex [Ovechkin]’s wasn’t a penalty — that was a good aggressive [play].”
*Boudreau also took those who take care of the playing surface to task.
“I am amazed that here in Canada that the ice could be as bad as it was. You go to Calgary and they have unbelievably good ice and you come here and it was the worst ice I’ve seen guys skate on in many, many moons. It was embarassing that the ice was that bad.”
*Fisher was the topic du jour in the Ottawa papers today. He is in the first year of a five-year, $21 million deal and he had zero points in the first nine games. He was also taking plenty of flak on sports talk radio (one show had a spirited debate raging about who is better — Fisher or Toronto’s Nik Antropov … between that and a show on a different station debating the merits of Montreal’s third line guys, it was a nice holiday from the typical sports radio fare at home).
*Finally, here’s something to ponder. Carolina comes to the Phone Booth on Thursday, and a regulation win would put them six points ahead of the Caps. It is way too early in the season to be tossing out terms like “must-win”, but I don’t think many people would have thought a sizable lead for any non-Washington team in the Southeast would be possible in the first week of November.