While it’s true that struggling in December certainly beats struggling in April, losing eight games in a row is a pretty difficult thing to spin in a positive way. Especially when this win-less streak leaves the Washington Capitals without something they’ve enjoyed for a long, long time: the top spot in the Southeast Division.
The Atlanta Thrashers pounded the New Jersey Devils by a score of 7-1 to take the spot that once seemed like it was reserved for the D.C. team, as GM Rick Dudley’s gang now has 41 points to Washington’s 40.
In fact, the Capitals aren’t even guaranteed the second spot in the Southeast by the end of Saturday. If the Tampa Bay Lightning hold on to win against the Buffalo Sabres (they currently lead 2-1 in the third), the two teams will be tied at 40 points but Tampa played in two less games so far.
The Bruins basically won the game in the first period, taking a 3-0 lead. Washington showed some fight by shrinking Boston’s lead to just one goal, but Tim Thomas did his best Jaroslav Halak impression as he stopped 39 out of 41 Capitals shots.
To add to the Capitals frustration: they out-shot Boston 41-21, including an astounding 26-2 advantage in the third period. They only managed a Karl Alzner goal in that final frame, though, as Thomas is building a season that might just top his Vezina Trophy winning 2008-09 campaign.
It’s hard to blame Alex Ovechkin – he earned an assist on Alzner’s goal and dropped the gloves during the team’s game against the New York Rangers – but certainly some will make a rash judgment that he’s not a “winner” or something. (Ugh, take it easy, reactionary hockey fans/writers.)
I think it would be hasty if the Capitals reacted by firing Bruce Boudreau or doing something else extreme … but it sure would make for some captivating material for HBO, wouldn’t it?