Alex Ovechkin

Playoff bubble watch — Capitals edition


After six straight seasons of making the playoffs, the Washington Capitals are in serious jeopardy of missing them in 2014.

Last night’s 3-0 loss to the Bruins saw the Caps muster just 16 shots on goal and, more importantly in the big picture, saw their chances of qualifying for the postseason fall to just 14.3 percent, according to Sports Club Stats.

With just 18 games left — including a tough three-game road trip through California, plus a number of other tough opponents — it’s not looking good.

“You can’t get much lower than that, I guess,” defenseman Karl Alzner said after the Boston loss. “The killer instinct isn’t there right now and it needs to be there because we are running out of time.”

Only five teams in the entire NHL have fewer regulation/overtime wins than the Caps’ 21.

Should Washington miss out on the playoffs, there could be significant change in D.C. Certainly, longtime general manager George McPhee has been a focal point for fan frustration, and one has to seriously wonder if his job is in peril — especially given the Caps’ payroll, not to mention their past disappointments in the playoffs and all the coaches that have come and gone.

The Caps host Phoenix Saturday before taking on the Penguins back-to-back Monday and Tuesday.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.