The Washington Times - March 16, 2009, 10:40PM

The Caps have had their fair share of stinkers this season, but this has to be near the top of the list. It was an uninspired first 37 minutes or so, followed by a hollow push in the final period.

Here are a few quick notes and quotes from the aftermath:


* Kari Lehtonen did make about 10 great saves, but many of them came when the score was already 4-0. The Caps also had 20 third period shots, but few if any second chances. They were mostly just bombing away and Lehtonen was in a zone with his positioning.

If Lehtonen ever played at 90 percent of that on a consistent basis, he’d fulfill all of that untapped potential he has.

Bruce Boudreau praised Lehtonen, but he made it clear this was much more about his team playing bad.

“We were still really bad in the first two periods,” Boudreau said. “We had 2 hits and were 29 percent on faceoffs in the first period. We were giving the puck away, we didn’t force at all on the penalty kill — we did everything wrong that a team could do.”

* When asked if it was an effort issue or an execution issue, Boudreau said, “There were a lot of effort issues, I thought,”

* The Caps had EIGHT hits in the game. Maybe there was some shoddy stat keeping, but that number sounds about right. Alex Ovechkin had three of those hits in the final three minutes of the second period after he was slashed on the hand and got very upset.

Bruce Boudreau said he wished someone on the team would have played that type of inspired hockey in the first 37 minutes of the game.

* Ovechkin normally eats up Lehtonen, but not tonight. The Atlanta goalie made 10 saves on No. 8.

* Alexander Semin has been awesome for about a month. That wasn’t the case tonight.

* Boudreau said Jose Theodore is going to start tomorrow in South Florida. He also said the hook wasn’t because of Theodore’s effort.

“He’s going to play tomorrow, and if he’s going to play tomorrow I was sort of sick and tired of him bailing our team out time and time again without getting the support he deserves at this point,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau pointed out that FOUR guys “waved their sticks” at Rich Peverley on the first goal. Theodore said that goal and the third one went off defensemen.

* The PK yielded three goals, and failed chances to clear the puck (another extension of effort) was an issue.

* The Caps didn’t have a power play for 37 minutes. That wasn’t because of bad officiating (although there was some bad officiating later — how is what Eric Fehr did worth the same amount of penalty time as Zach Bogosian’s cross-check and punches at Keith Aucoin?).

* Bogosian is absolutely a keeper. If John Carlson is 90 percent of Bogosian (sorry for all the percentage comparisons), the Caps will be very happy.

* Finally, Brian Pothier logged nearly 17 minutes and it was, as expected, a mixed bag. He made a couple of great outlet passes (the Caps need a lot more where that came from) and didn’t look out of place. He had a couple of nice bombs from the point in the third period, but he did take a penalty that led to Atlanta’s first goal.

“It really wasn’t the game I dreamed I would come back to,” Pothier said. “For the first game I felt pretty good. I saw the ice decent. I made a couple of mistakes that led to penalties and we got in trouble so I was a little frustrated by that. Overall, I felt decent.”

Boudreau thought he was tenative in the first period and did more watching than skating, but also felt he got a lot better as the game went on. Pothier said he has no worries about playing tomorrow in back-to-backs if he is called upon. Based on tonight, he should be.