A disastrous first period, penalty problems and an ice-cold power play


That was not how the Capitals wanted to enter the Christmas break. Washington gave up four goals in the first period and the rout was on as the Boston Bruins picked apart the Caps 7-3.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the loss

This game was over after the first period

The Caps outshot Boston in the second and third periods 34-6 and it didn't matter. At all. The damage was done.

You can't give up four goals, give up four power plays including a full two-minute two-man advantage in the fist period and expect to win.

Too many penalties

The Caps gave up 13 power plays in the last two games. You don't need me to tell you that cannot continue. The only saving grace is the fact that the team's penalty kill has improved dramatically from last season, but they are relying on it far too much. Washington does not beat Tampa Bay on Saturday without a strong penalty kill, but no PK is going to bail you out from taking 13 power plays in two games.

The Caps struggled at the basics

When the basics of hockey start to go out the window, you are in for a rough game. In the first period, Dmitry Orlov tried to handle the puck in the defensive zone with one hand on his stick and without his body in front of it. Brad Marchand stole the puck easily forcing a trip by Radko Gudas. Boston would score on the resulting power play.


The Bruins' third goal came as Orlov failed to clear the puck along the boards behind the net. Charlie Coyle took the puck in front of the net where Evgeny Kuznetsov should have been able to easily knock the puck out of danger. He whiffed and the puck went to Anders Bjork who fired it past Braden Holtby.

On the fourth goal, Orlov tried to keep the puck in the offensive zone at the blue line and missed it. Brad Marchand took it into the neutral zone and Jakub Vrana tried to line him up for the check and completely whiffed on the hit. Marchand set up Coyle for the shorthanded breakaway goal.

This is basic stuff. Hockey 101. You can't win if even the basics are a struggle.

The power play is ice cold

Washington went 0-for-5 on the power play in this game. For the month of December, the power play has been clicking at only 7.1-percent. They have scored twice on 28 opportunities.

In some games, like on Saturday against Tampa Bay, the team may not have produced any goals but the power play had plenty of good opportunities. On games like this one, however, Boston's penalty kill did not look good. The penalty killers were easily drawn out of position and either cheated too far to Ovechkin leaivng the slot wide open or left too much room for Ovechkin. The power play unit, however, could not distribute the puck effectively to take advantage.

There is too much talent on this unit to produce at only 7.1-percent. That's just not good enough.

Playing time tells a story

Who was Todd Reirden displeased with? Based on playing time, it looks like it was Jakub Vrana (9:35) and Richard Panik (7:56). Orlov also played only 16:21. That may not seem low, but it is the lowest ice time he has had in any game this season and only the 10th time in 38 games he has been held to under 20 minutes.


This game was awful, but if I told you Washington would win five out of six games against Tampa Bay and Boston, you would have taken that. There are issues this team needs to shore up, but they remain one of the top teams in the NHL. Bad games happen, it's not the end of the world.

Turning point

Down 1-0, Braden Holtby let up a big rebound on a David Pastrnak shot and Brad Marchand muscled his way through John Carlson to get to the puck and score. Things went from bad to worse soon after as a comedy of errors led to Anders Bjork getting the puck on his stick and firing it to make it 3-0.

In a span of just 27 seconds, the game went from 1-0 to 3-0.

Play of the game

Alex Ovechkin finally got the Caps on the board in the second period. Sure, the score was 5-1 and the game was already in hand for Boston, but it was a nice goal nonetheless. That goal gives Ovechkin 23 on the season.


Stat of the game

There was not much to like about this game, but just about every Ovechkin goal is a milestone at this point.

Quote of the game

Yep. This pretty much sums it up.

Fan predictions

Not in this one.

Well...there was fighting.

I always wondered this too. How do you control someone's arms with their hair?