Losing 2-1 on the road against a Western Conference foe in a building you haven’t traveled to in three years isn’t the worst thing in the world. Until you consider that a little more solid effort, especially in your own end, would have stolen a point or two. Things are going to be rough enough in the Caps own division to let little ones like this slip away. Five practice days until Carolina.
1) The Caps were, once again, completely outplayed at even strength. A lot of that has to do with the fairly lousy play in their own end, sloppy breakout passes and lack of sustained attack in the offensive end until panic set in with about eight minutes to go in the game. If the Caps are still only going to be motivated by urgency and not by competing from the opening drop, they’re going to find themselves in the same situation as last season.
2) The defense has to find a way to play better. John Erskine was toasted for the first goal, took a bad penalty, and then botched a 2-on-1 coming out of the box. But here’s what you need to know about this game: Erskine tied with Ovi for the team lead in shots on goal, and had one clang off a post.
3) Martin Erat: 11 shifts, 8:27 TOI. Putting the money aside –which is admittedly a tough thing to do in this situation — Erat has to play more. Has to. Either they need to see some production out of him for justifying trading away Filip Forsberg, or they need to play him to showcase him for a trade. All 8:27 TOI with Jay Beagle as his center is going to do is absolutely suck all of his value. I hardly think Erat will skate on the fourth line in perpetuity, but Adam Oates really should start mixing things up a bit to generate a little more out of 5-on-5 play.
4) It was a good bounce-back from Braden Holtby, turning away 19 of 21 shots. He’ll win a lot more games than lose with his performance Saturday night.
5) In the last two games the Caps have played in Dallas, they’ve had a controversial goal waived off and lost by one. This time, Nick Backstrom cross-checked Kari Lehtonen right before the goal. Backstrom clearly didn’t get hit on the play until after he made contact with Lehtonen’s facemask, so it was the right call to waive off the goal, but it’s strange that Backstrom didn’t get two minutes for it in addition to losing the goal. NHL refs, amirite???