Well, the Washington Capitals are now on one of the longest losing and lack of scoring streaks of Bruce Boudreau's tenure as head coach, yet the Caps still sit atop the Eastern Conference, a 30 point tie with Philadelphia.
Just to start off with four points easily recognized.
1. Braden Holtby is a good goalie prospect, but , he is not NHL ready. We certainly cannot nor will we, place full blame for the embarrassing 5-0 lost to New Jersey last night, on the pads of Holtby. However, he shares at least 50% if not more, of blame. Several of the goals were goals that would likely have not been let in by ether Michal Neuvirth or Semyon Varlamov. If it was not clear before, it likely is now, Holtby is not NHL ready yet.
2. The Capitals have clearly forgotten how to play defense. When we say you cannot place entire blame on Holtby, that is because the Caps also failed to protect the young net-minder. This was game in which Holtby was forced in to action from a 'tweak' to Neuvirth. The defense should have been even more focused on protection in the crease. They weren't stunk.
Here is an explanation on the Neuvirth injury issue
So the selection of Varly to backup Holtby was odd at best. If they would have 'never' put Varly in because of Saturday and Sunday play, if Varly was not 'ready', then why not go with a different option as backup? The question looming is, the caps play on Wednesday. Will Neuvy or Varly be ready?
3. What happened to the offense? You cannot just blame horrific defense and an inexperience, not ready goalie. Why? Because the Capitals put up a big fat ZERO against the struggling New Jersey Devils. That led to countless line changes during the game by Coach Boudreau. Not a big fan of all the mid-game line shifting. Never have been. Still not. I think it wrecks little chemistry that may exists out on the ice. Regardless, during this three game losing streak, the Caps have mustered just 5 goals, all coming in the second game against Philadelphia. In two of three losses, the Caps have been shutout, by sub-par teams at that. Countless line changes have been pretty much ineffective in dealing with a scoring drought. The Caps have one of the top first lines in hockey, yet they are constantly shifting line to line and failing to register points as well. The red hot Alexander Semin has cooled. Alex Ovechkin deserves his share of criticism.
4. Where is Alex? The most dominant player in the game is barely registering a whimper over his three game losing streak. In fact, for big parts of the beginning of this season, Ovechkin has failed to show any consistence dominance he has in prior years. Something is wrong. In this three game losing streak, Ovechkin has registered just 1 assist, is a -3 and has a combined 11 shots on goal, clearly not the Alex of the past. You can say it has been like this though for most of the season. Alex this season is not the same as Alex of prior seasons. He trails Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos by 9 points in the NHL league leaders, trails Stamkos by TEN goals, with only 10 on the season, and does not even lead the league in shots on goal like prior years, but is third overall.
Let's be clear. You can start to panic if you wish, but in reality, don't get over excited just yet. The caps still do share the lead in the Eastern Conference with 30 points and still lead the Southeast Division by 4 points. But, there is room for concern. They once led Tampa Bay in the Southeast by double digits, that lead is down to 4 points. The Caps are not scoring. Defense has been suspect at best. But, overall, I think the Caps will right the ship once the goalie situation stabilizes. As for Ovie, he simply has to wake up, because right now, it appears he is sleeping on ice.