Bolts Strike Down Caps in OT

Goaltender Dwayne Roloson made quite an impression in his debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Still wearing his Islanders mask, the newly-acquired goalie turned aside all 34 Capitals shots in leading the Bolts to a 1-0 overtime win at Verizon Center.

The fact that the Caps earned a point against their now worrisome division foes seems to offer little consolation, as does the fact that they’re now 5-0-2 in their last seven games. At the very least they didn’t lose it via mental mistakes, defensive breakdowns or power play goals against.

Odds and Ends:

Focusing on the positives, the Caps have limited opponents to 10 goals in their last seven games. While Semyon Varlamov has played great, the Capitals aren’t allowing the opposition to build speed through the neutral zone, they’re limiting second chances and are keeping offenses to the perimeter.

John Carlson and Karl Alzner were tasked with shutting down the top line of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone; and they did just that. Carlson logged 2:53 of short-handed ice time and Alzner had 2:37 as both led the team in that category for the Capitals. Make no doubt, Carlson and Alzner both have a bright future in the NHL.

Perhaps as a bi-product of the emergence of Carlson and Alzner, Bruce Boudreau was able to limit Mike Green’s minutes to 23:21. The Capitals enjoyed a relatively even distribution of minutes along the blue line with no defenseman skating more than Green and none skating less than Scott Hannan (16:05).

Remember when Alex Semin was good? Me neither. In 13 games since December 1, Semin has just five points (0 goals, 5 assists) and has taken five minor penalties and one major with a game misconduct. To disappear and even be a negative force for that long a period of time is entirely unacceptable for a player of his talent level.

Here’s a sobering fact: the Caps only have two players in the top 20 in points — Alexander Ovechkin (42) and Nicklas Backstrom (37).

Ovechkin’s SportsCenter commercial was cute (check the clip below if you haven’t seen it yet), now how about some goals? That’s right, Ovechkin isn’t even in the top 30 in goals this season. What’s wrong with him?

Expanding on the Ovechkin theme, this is becoming a serious concern in Washington. On February 7 last year, the Capitals beat the Penguins 5-4 in overtime and Ovechkin had a hat trick. In 61 games since then he’s scored 22 goals, a 30-goal per season pace. This season he’s on pace for 29 goals. Forget 50 goals, he might not even score 30.

It’s great that the Caps have fully bought into playing their own version of the neutral zone trap and the forwards have commited to back checking. But the fact is that they need their goal scorers to put the puck into the net in order to be an elite team.

Until that happens consistently, frustrating nights like this are going to be a recurring theme in the Nations Capital.

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