Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Loss Leaves Some Questions

In the wake of their 6-5 overtime loss to Philadelphia, there are some things for the Capitals to work on Wednesday at practice, as while there were some good performances on display, there also was a lot of sloppy play that cost the Caps a chance to grab two points.

First and foremost was the meltdown of the penalty-killing unit, as while the Capitals had been perfect in eight tries against the Bruins and Maple Leafs, Washington gave the Flyers more chances than that on Tuesday night and allowed three goals in the process - not to mention one with a delayed penalty.

Certainly, while the Capitals shouldn't have put their penalty-killers in that position with some ill-advised infractions and 12:41 total shorthanded, the team also needed to be better against a very dangerous Flyer squad. Philadelphia got some good scoring chances with the extra man and cashed in, and the lack of discipline and effectiveness likely cost them a point.

Another question mark was the ineffective defensive pairing of Tom Poti and John Erskine, who were on the ice for five of six of Philadelphia's goals, the only one being the fluky fourth tally that completed Mike Richard's hat trick. Poti unwittingly helped cause the game-tying goal late in regulation, and Erskine's double-minor in the second led to a Flyers tally.

With Bruce Boudreau changing the defensive pairings before the game by sitting Brian Pothier and adding Jeff Schultz, the pairing was very ineffective and shouldn't be brought back for Thursday's game against the Rangers.

Before the contest, Boudreau said he wanted to give Semyon Varlamov a chance to play in a very hostile environment, and the decision didn't work out well for the coach or the rookie netminder. In his young career, Varlamov has seemed to come a bit unhinged at times, and allowing four goals in 14 minutes - including a pair in :18 - he got a hook and Jose Theodore was called upon to calm down the Capitals.

Varlamov also has proven to be vulnerable to high shots, and the Flyers certainly took advantage with Richards being the benefactor with a pair just below the crossbar in his hat trick.

So, although the Capitals earned a point, they certainly will have a lot to work on on the heels of a sloppy finish against Toronto and a very uneven effort in Philadelphia.

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