Capitals

Beninati: Groundhog Day

Beninati: Groundhog Day

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This feels like Groundhog Day. Even if this game with New Jersey was never going to win any beauty contests, the way it unraveled was miserable.

Once again undisciplined penalties in the third period led to the Caps demise, and I am sure I speak for all Washington fans when I say it must stop and stop soon.

The Devils are always going to grind away with their structured play, making it very hard for teams to produce much in the way of offensive chances. For two and a half periods the Caps countered New Jersey's strategy as best they could.

Then the game turned into a special teams contest when Alex Semin and Brendan Morrison committed penalties that left people scratching their heads.The Devils buried power-play goals on those two opportunities. And then with the Caps only having just a few minutes left to mount a comeback, Semin took another penalty which in effect helped to kill any chances for a tie.

All you needed to do was take one look at Bruce Boudreau behind the bench to realize just how upset he was at the turn of events. This problem has been addressed on more than one occasion and it still continues to occur.

Otherwise, the Caps had to be pleased with Mathieu Perreault's NHL debut. The feisty center waited his turn while many others were called up from Hershey. And when he got his chance tonight he made the most of his nearly 11 minutes of work. He showed a nice touch on the Tyler Sloan goal with a saucer pass out of the Nick Backstrom playbook.

Semyon Varlamov was very solid again in the nets. His rebound control was very good, and for a while it looked like he would outduel Martin Broudeur. I liked John Erskine's return to the lineup, he was steady. Brooks Laich and Tyler Sloan were both deserving of praise up front.

The Caps finally get to see another Southeast Division opponent the rest of the week. The Florida Panthers have been getting super netminding from Tomas Vokoun, and he figures to be tough on Friday.

Alex Ovechkin said he's improving and feeling better, but you could sense his frustration in not being able to help his mates tonight. Here's hoping his stay on the sidelines will be brief.

Quick Links

The Caps are rolling at home, the power play is surging and other morning skate notes as the Flames visit Monday

usatsi_10422847_1.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

The Caps are rolling at home, the power play is surging and other morning skate notes as the Flames visit Monday

The Caps will look to build on Saturday’s strong performance vs. Minnesota when Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames come calling Monday night at Capital One Arena.

Here’s how Washington is expected to line up:

Forwards
Stephenson – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly
Vrana – Eller – Wilson
Connolly – Beagle – Chiasson
Extra: Walker

Defense
Orpik – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Chorney – Bowey
Extra: Ness

So, yeah, no changes up front or on the backend.

RELATED: FLAMES HEAD TO WASHINGTON IN STYLE

Now for some notes, quotes and observations from the morning skate:

  • Braden Holtby (11-4-0/2.56 gaa/.921 Sv%) is expected to start for the Caps. He’s won seven of his last nine starts and his 11 Ws are tied for third most in the NHL. The Flames are expected to start Mike Smith (10-6-0/2.70 gaa/.919 Sv%).
  • Including their win over Philipp Grubauer and Caps on Oct. 29, the Flames have won six of eight games to move into third place in the Pacific Division.
  • Leading the way for the Flames is Johnny Gaudreau, who has six goals and 10 assists during in the Flames’ last eight games. Gaudreau will likely match up against the Nicklas Backstrom line. Here’s what T.J. Oshie had to say about facing Gaudreau (it comes after he addresses the power play, which I’ll get to in a second.)
  • One thing that’s been pretty consistent for the Caps over the past couple of weeks has been the power play. After a bit of a dry spell, the unit has been (finally) getting some opportunities—and it’s been cashing in. Over the last five games, in fact, the power play has scored six times on 22 opportunities. Oshie has three of those goals, while Kuznetsov has chipped in with a pair.
  • The Flames, by the way, have the NHL’s worst penalty kill at 70.6-percent.
  • The Caps will be going for their sixth straight win at home against Calgary. In the previous five games on F Street, they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined 16-8.
  • Since Matt Niskanen returned to the lineup vs. the Predators, John Carlson’s ice time has come down to a more manageable figure. Carlson had been leading the league at 27:20 prior to No. 2’s return. Over the past three games, however, he’s skated 25:26, 24:53 and 24:55.
  • Game day skates typically begin around 10:15 when the Caps are at home. Sometimes scratches, the goalies and players toward the bottom of the lineup go out early to get a little extra work. On Monday, star center Evgeny Kuznetsov was on the ice at least 15 minutes early, working one-on-one with Trotz. Kuznetsov has five goals on the season but none at even strength in 11 games.  
  • Defenseman Christian Djoos hasn’t been on the ice since suffering an upper body injury in Nashville. Trotz did, however, say that the rookie is feeling better and starting to ramp up his level of activity. The coach also said he’s hopeful to see Djoos on the ice this week.


MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-FLAMES

Quick Links

After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

redskins-saints-referee-oficial-review-usat.png

After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!