It's a good thing the Columbus Blue Jackets probably aren't going to make the playoffs because boy is this starting to look like a bad matchup for the Capitals. Washington fell to Columbus for the second time in eight days on Monday in a 3-0 shutout loss.
Observations from the loss
With the loss, Washington has now lost six of its last seven to Columbus. Has John Tortorella discovered something in the Caps that he is exploiting? It's a question that a lot of teams are going to ask when they prepare to play the Caps and is certainly a question Todd Reirden and the coaches will be asking themselves when studying the tape of this game.
Offensively Washington struggled against Columbus' backcheck because they kept trying to make the extra pass. More on that later. The Caps also seemed to struggle against an aggressive forecheck early on, which was certainly a problem against the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs last season.
Caps keep trying to make the extra pass
Sometimes you have to keep it simple. The Caps were incapable of that offensively as they insisted on looking for the extra pass to set up the perfect play again and again and again. Columbus was all over Washington defensively. The defense did not give the Caps the time or the space to work with to make those kinds of finesse plays. Just shoot.
In the third period in particular, players were giving up high-danger opportunities to make the extra pass. It's baffling. Just shoot the puck!
That may be a bit of Joonas Korpisalo getting into their heads a bit with a strong performance, but it is not as if the Caps look for the extra pass solely against him. This was a situation where they just needed to shoot when they got close and they wouldn't do it.
Kempny was on the ice for all three goals
Michal Kempny has come under criticism of late for a poor season. While some of that criticism is fair, I would point out that the defense was a lot worse when he was out of the lineup and he really solidified the blue line when he returned from injury.
There's no debate over this game, however. This was a rough one as he was on the ice for all three of Columbus' goals.
The only one in which it looked like Kempny really made a bad play was the first goal. In that one, he gambled and tried to make a play in the neutral zone, but the puck got by him and suddenly he was caught way out of position with the puck behind him. On the second goal, he was with Oliver Bjorkstrand the whole way and looked like he was in good position, it was just a great play by Bjorkstrand to get the deflection and the goal.
Looking at Wilson's hit
Tom Wilson drew the ire of Columbus late in the third with a hit he delivered to Vladislav Gavrikov. It was a big hit and Gavrikov got up holding his face as if the hit had been delivered right to the chin.
Wilson is someone who has zero wiggle room with the Department of Player Safety so you can bet the hit is going to be closely scrutinized.
Watching the play, Wilson came in to hit Gabrikov from the front and the puck was in the area. The head was not the principal point of contact and it looked like any contact to the head was more incidental as the result of Wilson just being bigger. The only issue I saw with the hit was that Wilson left his feet, but with all of these hits, if the only issue is a player leaving his feet, that's not enough for me. Something few people consider is the fact that a player's momentum can bring them off their feet so at times it can be hard to determine if a player launched himself into a hit or if his momentum just carried him off the ice.
To me, I really don't see any reason why Wilson should be concerned, but you can never tell with the DoPS.
This marks the third straight game in which Richard Panik had less than 10 minutes of ice time and the second straight game in which he had less than nine minutes.
To be fair, in terms of even-strength ice time, the third line was down. Panik had 8:09 at even strength and Carl Hagelin had 8:15 so it appears the third line was supplanted by the fourth line in this game as Brendan Leipsic, Travis Boyd and Garnet Hathaway all had more ice time. The important thing is that while Panik's time was down again, he did at least get 45 seconds on the penalty kill. With him struggling offensively, he needs to be a part of the PK otherwise, what is he contributing?
The Caps actually had the better of the play in the second period and may have swung the momentum a bit in their favor, but all of that went out the window 32 seconds into the third period when Oliver Bjorkstrand managed to reach his stick past Kempny for the deflection goal to make it 2-0.
Play of the game
There was certainly nothing on the ice really worth talking about so the play of the game goes to the dads who facetimed with T.J. Oshie's dad who is suffering from Alzheimer's and was not able to make the trip.
What a great moment. You can read the full story on it here.
Stat of the game
Want to know how weird the schedule has been for the Caps this season? They lead the league in points and have 24 wins. Only three of those wins have come against Metropolitan Division teams. The Blue Jackets, a team with only 13 wins, has more Metro wins with five.
Quote of the game
Holtby tried to explain what has made the Blue Jackets so different to play against this season.
"They seem to have a bit of a different game plan against us than most teams do. They come hard to start and then they basically just sit back and play an old-school type style. It's one of those games where one or two go in early, it's a different story. Just a weird game."
6-1 Caps...revenge is best served in a blowout.— Jeffrey Kahn - Albert Almora Superfan 🌹🌻 (@JeffEKahn) December 16, 2019
A lot of people thought the Caps would blow apart Columbus after what happened last week. You are hardly alone in this.
....But you're still wrong.
Both teams get pucks deep— Harvey Williams 🏒🍺 (@HarvEwilliams23) December 16, 2019
Joke's on you. The Caps really struggled with that in this game.
Tommy gets a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.— Aaron Skolnik (@MDReferee) December 16, 2019
He had a fight so he had at least one part of it.
If not a goal, Gudas at least gets a shot— Officer Grape (@erp0dos) December 17, 2019
Haha, guess what? No shots.
I love people calling for a Radko Gudas goal. He'll get there eventually. The fact that you lowered it to just a shot and he didn't get it though definitely made me laugh.
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