The Washington Times - January 13, 2009, 10:51PM

Three straight losses is not a good thing — but this one was ugly. No holding back here (because Bruce Boudreau certainly didn’t) — the Caps were terrible tonight. There were a few good chances in the first five minutes and then … yuck.

It was a lack of effort at both ends — not enough traffic/grit/hard work on offense to get chances from closer than 40 feet, let alone score and Jose Theodore (who was also subpar) got hung out to dry a couple of times.

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When the media was allowed in the room, only Brent Johnson remained. It took several minutes before anyone came in and addressed the loss. That said, Bruce Boudreau had enough to say for everyone.

I believe the quote, “They’re lucky they don’t have practice tomorrow,” sums it up best, but here are some other things he said.

On the power play: “Our power play is not operating at the efficiency it was operating at two weeks ago, and you can draw your own conclusions from that. We have power-play meetings every single game day. We have film on the power play for the team we’re playing.”

On getting discouraged after a slow start: “If we’re getting discouraged after 10 minutes, then we’re in a lot of trouble. We had 19 shots in the first period, and I don’t think more than one or two were tough ones. Everything was from the perimeter. There was no traffic in front. It was something we really dwelled on before the game — we dwelled on it.”

On the lack of offensive effort: “When it gets to the point that everyone wants to be the scorer and nobody wants to be the mucker, you’re not going to do anything. Everybody is waiting. When you put a skilled lineup together, and I think we have a fairly skilled lineup, but nobody wants to do the grunt work, then until we get that happening we’re not going to score a lot of goals.”

On the lack of defensive effort, particularly from the forwards: “When we didn’t have the puck, instead of having pressure defense which we talk about all the time, we were, ‘Oh, somebody else will do it,’ ” Boudreau said. “ ‘Get the puck up to me and I’ll go score, but I’m not going to worry about doing much checking.’ When that happens, you’re not going to win.”

On the first line’s effort: “They weren’t very good. When you’re best players aren’t your best players, you’re in trouble. It is one thing if you’re not very good, but we count on these guys. They’re the ones who get the bulk of the ice time. I don’t know what Alex [Ovechkin] got to day, but I bet it was 25 minutes [26:05].”

“Alex, what does he have – one point in the last four games? And that’s an assist off [Michael] Nylander’s foot. He’s the best player in the world and maybe he’s on a little down turn, but he’s got to play like the best player in the world.”

Ovechkin, to his credit, wasn’t looking to deflect criticism after the game. He was demoted to the second line for the third period, playing with Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov instead of Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. Brooks Laich took his place.

“I think we play first 10 minutes, but we don’t score goals and they play great defense,” Ovechkin said. “I think we didn’t play with energy, and it started with me, our line and myself. I don’t know what to say – I think our line played terrible.”

Some other quick stuff:

* Tomas Fleischmann had some jump in the final two periods — and he was probably alone. He has 14 goals in 35 games this season. He had 14 in 118 career games before this year.

* Karl Alzner finally took a penalty — and it was the same one (puck over the glass) as his only infraction in Hershey this season.

* The last time the Caps lost two in a row was in 2007 (Dec. 14-20).