If you ask me, it’s often unfair to say that a hockey team “choked.” Making such an accusation assumes that hockey is a sport where a lot isn’t left to chance; I think most of us can agree that largely isn’t the case. Still, it’s pretty tough to fight off the long-held criticisms of the Washington Capitals after a loss like this.
The team seemed like it would produce a slam-dunk win in a huge home game against the Winnipeg Jets as they took a 3-0 as Alex Ovechkin continued his hot streak with two of those goals. The Jets and Capitals stuck to the script after that, though, as Winnipeg was that “scrappy bunch” while Washington seemed like a bunch of chokers, coughing up a 3-0 lead to eventually lose 4-3 in overtime.
How do you explain a loss like this? Who gets the blame? Did Brooks Laich make a mistake by fighting Jim Slater in the second period?
All kinds of questions sprout up from a loss like this, but Washington must move on. If nothing else, they’ll get a charity point to keep them in the mix.
(With Ottawa Senators’ disturbing loss to the Montreal Canadiens, it seems relevant to include them in the mix now.)
7. Ottawa: 84 points, 32 regulation/OT wins and eight games left
8. Washington: 82 points, 35 regulation/OT wins and seven games left
9. Buffalo: 82 points, 29 regulation/OT wins and seven games left
10. Winnipeg: 78 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and eight games left
(Carolina and Toronto aren’t that far behind, but study the expanded standings to determine how much of a chance you believe they have.)
The Capitals did get their charity point, but this is obviously a huge confidence-builder for the Jets – especially since it came on the road. The Sabres are also obviously bigger winners with Washington’s loss; while Buffalo’s time in the eighth spot proved short-lived, they must be taken seriously as a threat for one of the final two playoff spots.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Sports Club Stats still gives Washington the edge for the eighth spot, but Buffalo definitely made a big jump on Friday.