When was the last time there was a Capitals/Penguins game when the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry took a backseat to other things going on around the ice. Between Dale Hunter trying to find his footing as the Caps new head coach and Arron Asham’s one-punch knockout the last time the teams faced off, the battle of superstars almost seemed like a footnote to the rest of the game.
Good thing, because they were both held without a point during the Penguins tight 2-1 victory in Washington.
As for the other 38 guys on the bench on Thursday night, the Pens win over the Caps will have plenty of storylines to keep blogs and websites busy. John Erskine stepped up and challenged Arron Asham to a fight only five minutes into the game. Afterwards, Erskine insisted the fight wasn’t about the retribution for Asham’s actions last game, but it was to help his teammates get back into the game after the Penguins first goal of the game. OK, we’ll go with that.
Another, more disturbing storyline from the game, is the lackluster offensive the Capitals have been producing as of late. The loss was the fourth straight for the four-time defending Southeast Division champs. Worse than that, the loss is Washington’s seventh loss in their last nine games—and second straight for new head coach Dale Hunter.
Under Hunter, the Capitals have been stressing defense. Improving defense is always a good thing, but the Caps haven’t been able to generate ANY offense over the last two games. They’re only averaging about 18 shots per game and haven’t been able to score more than a single goal in either contest. As Tomas Vokoun says, “it’s hard to win with one goal.”
For Caps fans who are ready to jump off a bridge and into the Potomac, they can take solace that their defense looked much better tonight against the Penguins. Now they’ll just need to find some goals. Who knew we’d be saying the Capitals would be alright if they could just find some scoring?