About 35 minutes into this game, it felt like the Caps were working their way through a snoozer, trying to stay motivated despite a 3-0 lead against a team that didn’t appear to be too particularly happy to be playing tonight.
Then, as has happened a little too often for Bruce Boudreau’s liking this season, the Caps took their foot off the proverbial gas pedal and choas ensued in the final period.
It is hard to really decide what to make of this little phenomenon the Caps like to dabble in. Are they hurting their chances of winning a Stanley Cup by letting up in games, or when all the chips are down will it not matter? Last year the Caps lost a bunch of games to crappy teams, so is the fact that they are still winning these games an improvement? Does how well they played Tuesday against a good team earn them some slack?
Honestly, I don’t have answers with any conviction for any of these questions, and I don’t know if some of the guys in the room do, either. Bruce Boudreau was clearly ticked off about the whole deal tonight, but he said he will wait until tomorrow morning to let the team know of his displeasure.
But here’s a sampling of his displeasure from this evening:
“I thought with about seven minutes to go in the second period we thought this was going to be easy. Then we stopped skating and we stopped playing. The crowd was out of it, but I knew once they got one goal just like the last time they would be flying.”
“We were way too casual and that’s what happens when you let up and you don’t just drive. The great ones — every chance they get to score they want to put it through the net. You see [Ovechkin], I mean he never lets up.”
[NOTE: This may or may not have been a direct/indirect shot at Alexander Semin, who botched two plays that should have been goals after the team went up 3-0]
[NOTE #2: If Boudreau was upset with Semin, he didn’t take away any ice time as a result. He continued to skate with the top line for the duration.]
“We had opportunities to and it was just, ‘La-de-da.’ and instead of making it 4-0 or 5-0 and letting them go home with their tails between their legs we got a battle on our hands. Especially with the number of games we have this week it would have been nice to rest some guys in the third period.”
“I wasn’t happy for [Varlamov] because he played an outstanding game. He ends up with three goals on him, and they were nothing he could do. He kept us in it in the third period, and it is ridiculous how we just let up and let other teams back in the game. It is very frustrating.”
Alex Ovechkin had a great first 30 minutes. Semyon Varlamov deserved better for his excellent play. Tomas Fleischmann got the hard hat and looked pretty good in his season debut. The Flash-Aucoin-Clark line didn’t score, but they were the best line in the third.
Also, Evander Kane is a keeper and Zach Bogosian is an emergin franchise guy. Boudreau said he thought the Thrashers felt sorry for themselves in the first half of the game without Ilya Kovalchuk, but they certainly turned it on in the second half.
Not much else to say about this. The Caps continue to waltz through the soft part of their schedule but are making it more difficult on themselves than they need to.
It isn’t getting any easier, er, tougher tomorrow night when the New York Islanders come to town.