Slumping Caps Drop Fourth Straight

What seemed like a relatively cushy homestand disentigrated into a four-game losing streak after the Washington Capitals fell to the Florida Panthers Thursday night at Verizon Center, 3-0.

It seems like anytime the Capitals lose to a “lesser” opponent the story is the same: they dominate zone time, run into a hot goaltender and fail to convert on power plays. Tonight, Tomas Vokoun joined the parade of recent goaltenders who have seemingly carried their team to victory over the Caps.

This streak has seen Andrew Raycroft, Ondrej Pavelec and now Vokoun carry their respective teams to wins. We’ve seen this movie before and it gets old really quickly. Then again, going 0-for-8 on the power play at home isn’t exactly a sustainable formula for winning.

Odds and Ends:

– At least we didn’t have to hear the “ref you suck!” chant tonight. Instead we just heard boos.

– It’s usually a bad sign when a team goes 0-5 on power play opportunities in the first period, which saw the Caps’ log 7:07 of time on the power play and fail to score. There was far too much standing around on the 5-on-3 which lasted almost a full two minutes and resulted in no goals.

– At one point in the second the Caps outshot the Panthers, 21-6. But thanks in large part to Vokoun, the Capitals were unable to punch through. At another point in the second, the Panthers had eight total shots on goal and eight penalties.

– One thing that might improve the power play is to move Alex Ovechkin off the point and have him play down along the half wall. He’s not having any success hitting the net from the point and moving him to a spot similar to where Steven Stamkos scores just about every one of his goals could give opponents a new wrinkle. By the eighth power play of the night Bruce Boudreau at least experimented with Ovechkin down low in front of the crease.

– Semyon Varlamov actually played reasonably well. After the Capitals failed to convert on their eighth power play in the third they basically punted the game and left him hanging out to dry.

After the game, Boudreau called out his stars for not producing.

“If your best players aren’t your best players – and we’ve been shutout three times in the last eleven games…we’ve had one goal in  five of our last 11 games – you have to get production out of your best players and it’s not happening right now,” said Boudreau.

“Ovechkin has two goals in his last 11 games, Semin hasn’t scored in seven or eight games (it’s actually four but we won’t nitpick), same thing with Nick Backstrom, he scored against St. Louis five games ago but that was it…if they’re not going to score and our power play is not going to work then you better win 1-0. They’re not playing good enough right now to score goals”

Boudreau is spot on as analyst, but how he handles this as a coach will be perhaps the biggest test of his NHL career to date.

Hopefully for the Capitals, this is the low point in their season. They just matched their longest losing streak since October 2009.

This one, however, stings because the last three have occurred against Atlanta, Toronto and Florida on home ice.

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