For the Caps fans who stayed till the end of Tuesday’s 5-1 blowout loss and gave a standing ovation when their team finally scored late in the third, defenseman Karl Alzner noticed. And he appreciated it.
“I noticed it right away,” he said. “I thought that was nice they were still cheering, even though what the score was.”
But after a loss like last night’s to the Flyers, the Capitals are going to need two things: a video session and a short memory.
It was less than a memorable performance for goalies Tomas Vokoun for 40 minutes and Michal Neuvirth for 20, though Capitals head coach Dale Hunter chalked three of the goals up to being tipped out of the air.
“There’s no excuses,” Vokoun said. “I didn’t help the team at all, and that’s my job.”
One person who was doing everyone else’s job with less than his usual reckless abandon, however, was Alexander Semin. At one point in the game, Adam Vingan of Kings of Leonsis tweeted Semin had two hits. But by the end of the night, Semin had five total – the most of any individual on either the Flyers or the Capitals. And he had no penalties, though he did finish -3.
The final stats sheet, though, told less than the whole story on Tuesday: the Capitals were almost even with the Flyers in shots on goal, had one more hit, finished almost even in faceoff percentage, and managed 13 blocked shots to Philly’s 19. They also were only in the box once.
That means little, however, when the scoreboard says 5-1 in your opponent’s favor.
“I don’t think we played very responsible,” Alzner said when comparing this outing to the Capitals’ last few games (the Capitals have gone 3-1 in their last four). “I don’t know why it changed tonight. Philly is a really good team. They do a great job down low, but we made a lot of bad mental errors. … But I think the mental errors are things that you can easily change. You take an extra second to think, and make a smarter play.”
Azner said the Caps’ inability to clear the zone and their turnovers at the blue line Tuesday also took its toll physically.
“Some of us were out there for a minute and a half, two minutes at a time, and it really, really kills you,” he said.
The Caps also were unable to convert three power plays into goals. Jeff Halpern was the only Capital to find the net, and it came late in the third, saving his team from being shut out. Joel Ward and Dennis Wideman had the assists.
“It’s an ugly game,” was Halpern’s assessment afterwards.
Hard to disagree.