Last Saturday, when the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-2, in Boston, it was the Caps’ fourth win in a row, making it look like the team would make a serious run at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Three losses later, two to the Philadelphia Flyers and Thursday night to Boston, 3-0, nothing could be further from the truth. The Caps looked as lost and frustrated as they have all season in being shutout by the Bruins.
The Caps fell to fifth in the Metropolitan Division. They sit four points behind second place Philly, two behind third place New York and one behind Columbus, which they face Saturday at Verizon Center, with their season on the brink.
It would be hard to blame Braden Holtby for this one. The embattled goalie made 40 saves, while newly-acquired Jaroslav Halak watched from the bench, and was often left to fend for himself as the Capitals continued the disturbing trend of getting massively outshot. The Caps managed just eight shots on goal through the first 40 minutes en route to a game total of 16, tying their season low.
Boston got goals from Gregory Campbell and Loui Eriksson in the second and an empty netter from Brad Marchand with 1:34 left in the contest.
Washington was without the services of Brooks Laich, who returned to D.C. early with a lower body injury, and John Erskine, who was involved in a fight in Philly and did not dress for the game. Cameron Schilling, who hadn’t played for Hershey in two weeks with an injury, was recalled to make his season debut, as was forward Chris Brown, acquired from Phoenix in the Martin Erat deal. Ryan Stoa, who made his Caps debut earlier in the week, was in the lineup as well.
Neither team was assessed a penalty, though several questionable hits probably could have merited a call.
But that fact was academic, as the Capitals played through much of this one as if nothing was on the line. If they don’t find answers soon, that will most certainly be the case.