Embarrassing, about the only word to describe Tuesday's game against the Sabres. A game that was billed as a game 7 by coach Dale Hunter saw neither the Caps nor their "fans" show up. Herds of Sabres fans cheering "Let's Go Buffalo" could be heard throughout Verizon Center and over the television broadcast. It seems as though the Caps are not the cool thing to do in DC anymore. As a guy who has been a Caps fan since birth I literally despise what the Caps game experience had become the past couple years. True fans unable to get tickets because a Caps game had become an experience, going to games and seeing people in suits and ties who had no true interest in the Caps they just wanted to be able to go to the water cooler the next day and say "I went to the Caps game last night". Well it appears that those people are starting to leave the Caps, and while Ted Leonsis and I will disagree on this mainly because I don't make money off those idiots buying tickets and spending $80 bucks on beers, this is a good thing for people like myself possibly being able to see a Caps game again. That game Tuesday night was a pure showing that the hardcore Caps fans have been driven out since the team left Landover and moved into downtown DC. A couple of losses however and a season that might end in missing the playoffs seems to have driven away the hipsters.....GOOD RIDDANCE!! But getting back to the game, the Capitals came out flat with no fire at all and Buffalo came out with playoff type intensity. People want to blame Braden Holtby for that loss and while his rebound control was far from perfect his defense left him out to dry completely. And as for our offense.......non-existent. The Caps may very well have played themselves out of the playoffs with that performance.
We have 5 games left and it starts tonight when the Caps travel to Boston to take on the Bruins. For the Caps it's do or die time, they have to go at least 4-1 but more likely 5-0 and then also get some help to make the playoffs. Tonight is a big challenge for the Caps as they face the Eastern Conference's #2 seed. The Bruins have been up and down this year but seem to be trending up which is bad news for the Caps. When the Bruins are going on all cylinders they are in my opinion the best and most complete team in hockey. When healthy the goal-tending duo of Tuuka Rask, and Tim Thomas can completely shut down any team. Their defense is lead by the mountainous Zdeno Chara, and players like Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. If you wanna see the difference between these 2 teams however look at the forwards. For the Bruins they have big intimidating yet skilled forwards like Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, and a scoring machine in Tyler Seguin. But the thing they have that the Caps don't have is a forward like Brad Marchand. Marchand can completely get under the skin of an opposing team, while putting the puck in the net and knocking opposing players out when they try to take him on. The Caps don't have a Marchand or Lucic or a Thornton those 3 players are big reasons why the Bruins are as good as they are, and why they won the Stanley Cup last year.
Tonight's game is the 4th and final meeting between these 2 teams this season. The Caps lead the season series 2-1 right now, including a win without Alex Ovechkin back in January when Matthieu Perrault aka Matty P unleashed the fury for a hat trick at Verizon Center. The last time these 2 teams met was earlier this month on March 10th, when the Caps went into Boston and stole 2 points with a 4-3 victory. An underlying story to this game is the possible return of Caps center Nicklas Backstrom tonight, as he has made the trip with the Caps to Boston. Backstrom's return would be a huge boost to a Capitals team that clearly needs one in the worst way.
Taking a look at the Eastern Conference standings right now sees the Caps in 9th with 84 points. Buffalo is in 8th with 86 and Ottawa is in 7th with 88 all 3 teams have 5 games remaining. In the Southeast Division the Caps are 2nd behind the Panthers who have 89 points and have a game in hand on the Caps having only played 76 games. So to say it's looking bleek for the Capitals playoff hopes would be a bit of an understatement.
PLAYERS TO WATCH TONIGHT:
ALEXANDER SEMIN LW, WASHINGTON = Semin has been pretty invisible lately, yes I know he scored tuesday night but other than the occasional stat he just isn't dominating the puck like he can when he is fully committed and all in for the team. We need that Alex to show up for the next 5 games if the Caps are to find a way into the postseason.
MILAN LUCIC LW, BOSTON = Lucic is a physical force on the ice and can dominate a game, and the Capitals have no one who can match him on the ice in their soft defensive core.