If you watched Saturday's game hoping to see Alex Ovechkin's 700th goal, you left more than a little disappointed. Not only was Ovechkin held off the scoresheet, but the Capitals were also obliterated by the Philadelphia Flyers 7-2 in what I am declaring their worst game of the season.
Observations from the loss
Don't burn the tape
My first instinct watching this game is just to say, burn the tape, move on. This team is not as bad as it looked on Saturday by any stretch. The problem? The Capitals are 3-3-0 coming out of the all-star break, the best game they had was a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh and the only reason they beat Los Angeles was because Alex Ovechkin carried them with a phenomenal third period.
You can't dismiss this game offhand because the team is not playing well and this game was a reflection of that. I don't think you can call this game just an outlier.
Not the usual suspects
The defense has struggled this season and many have blamed those struggles on Nick Jensen and Braden Holtby. Well, Jensen was a healthy scratch and Holtby was completely left out to dry. To a man, everyone postgame said this game was not Holtby's fault, it was the defensive effort in front of him and they were right.
The other problem is that Martin Fehervary, who replaced Jensen, was one of the few defensemen who played pretty well. Fehervary and Dmitry Orlov were fine, but the other four blueliners all had horrendous nights.
So what do you do to solve the defensive woes? That's the question that now faces head coach Todd Reirden.
You can't blame this game on either Jensen or Holtby and the guy who replaced Jensen was good. Ultimately, the issue on Saturday was largely with the execution. Turnovers, bad defensive coverage, bad passes, etc. That's what killed the Caps. It is easy to say those are mental errors and they all just came out on Saturday, but the continued struggles on defense, as I mentioned above, are too frequent to be dismissed at this point in the season.
The game was tied 1-1 heading into the second period. Less than five minutes in, Philadelphia was up 4-1.
A neutral zone turnover turned into a goal for Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier scored on a breakaway 14 seconds later, and James van Riemsdyk scored off a deflection 91 seconds after that. That stretch killed Washington.
Play of the game
The Caps tied the game at 1 and it came on a power play goal! Happier times....
a power play goal!! pic.twitter.com/151jGgq5KD— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 9, 2020
Stat of the game
You may have missed it, but Martin Fehervary had a bittersweet moment late in the game as he earned an assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov's goal in the third period. That was his first NHL point.
Quote of the game
The Caps are high in the standings, but they have not been playing like it lately. Reirden knows that and expressed his frustration after Saturday's loss.
"We're where we are in the standings, but I've said it and said it a number of times that we're not where we need to be. Tonight was a really good example of it. So if you're going to lose in all areas of the game, then you're not going to pull out wins. We didn't deserve that win. We deserved what we got tonight."
Martin Fehérváry gets his first NHL goal— ktrestorehope (@ktrestorehope) February 8, 2020
Fehervary got his first point and was one of the lone bright spots for the game.https://twitter.com/griffhall3/status/1226282610059567106
I thought Ovechkin would really pour on the shots in search of 700, but he had only two shots on goal and three shots blocked. Like the rest of the team, Ovechkin just looked off.
@Adam_Zielonka and I will make it by puck drop.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) February 8, 2020
They made it with 20 minutes to spare.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: