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Should Capitals be worried after loss to Stars?

Mar 8, 2010, 9:52 PM EDT

The mighty aren’t invincible at home after all.

Marty Turco’s
career-high 49 saves propelled the Dallas Stars to an improbable 4-3
overtime victory against the Washington Capitals, at the place everyone
believed they were unstoppable. And yet it happened, against a team that
had their backs against the wall and were reeling after three straight
losses.

So is there reason to panic in the nation’s capitol?

Not
really, but this does show that they are beatable (all teams are, of
course) and it has exposed the weakness that all Caps fans should be
worried about headed into the playoffs: the team defense is great, the
defense scores a lot of points but the goaltending is not at the same
level as the rest of the team.

The Capitals score at a higher rate
than any other team and it’s not even close. In fact, the offensive
firepower this team has is beyond ridiculous and frankly it’s not fair.
How can one team have so many talented players on one roster? The
scoring has managed overcome the team’s weakness in net and there’s
nothing to say they won’t continue to do so but when the Capitals lose
it’s usually not because of a lack of offense.

Look at their three
losses just before the Olympic break. Scored 13 goals in three games,
yet lost all three while allowing 15.

NBCSports.com contributor Kevin Dupont notes that the Caps won’t be able to depend on either goaltender once the playoffs begin.

O.K., most nights those three goalies are competent. The playoffs,
though, aren’t most nights. Theodore and Varlamov are a combined 26-33
in postsesaon play. Neuvirth doesn’t have a postseason minute on his
resume. In all likelihood, it will be Theodore or Varlamov in the
postseason and coach Bruce Boudreau will spend the next two months
figuring out which of those two will carry the load. Why do I think a
coin flip will be his ultimate decision-maker?

Now there’s nothing that
can be done now, and there really wasn’t much to do at the trade
deadline either. The goaltending is far from bad, but there’s no doubt
it’s the weakness of the team. Can a team win a Stanley Cup with the
offense as carrying the team? Can you imagine a Stanley Cup finals
matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Capitals? My blood
pressure instantly ratchets up just thinking about it.

Other
thoughts on the game:

  • The Dallas Stars were lucky just to have a chance in this game,
    and that’s all thanks to Marty Turco. The last time I witnessed such a
    masterful performance by Turco in net was during the 2008 playoffs. His
    athleticism, competitiveness and concentration were on full display
    tonight, and he showed that he still has the ability to be dominant.
    That he struggles with consistency speaks more to his mental
    conditioning than his actual physical ability.
  • Well, Alex Ovechkin is back. What an absolutely incredible goal he
    had to tie the game late in the third period, as he turned Stephane
    Robidas around and whipped a shot over Turco’s shoulder all in one
    motion. I’m not one to get involved in the Crosby vs. Ovechkin debate,
    but I have to admit he has to be the most exciting player in the NHL to
    watch.
  • That this game was decided by a shootout is a travesty. It was
    back and forth action all game long, and the overtime period was even
    better. Then the ultimate anticlimactic ending: all play stops for the
    shootout. I understand it’s more exciting than a tie — I guess — but
    the fact that an important two points are gained by a skills competition
    is beyond me. Of course, at this point it’s cliche to even mention
    being fed up with the shootout so I’ll just… move on.
  1. Raimo - Mar 9, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    Because one game they should be worried? Good headlines. But seriously, Caps look very good. To get hoist the Stanle Cup is always a battle but this year they do have really good chancens going all the way.

  2. ZachFinley - Mar 9, 2010 at 2:43 AM

    Great recap!
    I think the biggest thing the Capitals team needs to worry about is their Penalty Kill. Jose Theodore has been very good of late and Semyon Varlamov will hopefully begin to return to form, so, as a Capitals fan, I am not too worried.
    But that Penalty Kill! Bruce Boudreau needs to watch the video of the best PKs in the league and make adjustments before the nation’s team enters the Play-Offs

  3. TracyJean - Mar 9, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    Yes, especially since Dallas’ power play sucks big time. Someone was even joking after the Pittsburgh game (I think Dallas went 0 for 6 on the PP) that it was too bad Dallas couldn’t just start declining penalties. Dallas fans were dying of the shock – not necessarily that our guys scored (yeah, that too), but that they did it on the PP. And then they did it again.
    But that was a good game last night. Fortunately, Washington is in the other conference, so I don’t mind them getting a point out of the game. They earned it. That was one of the best games I’ve seen this season (Stars’ season ticket holder, and yes, we’ve had some good ones).

  4. Irishmike - Mar 9, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Worried, not in the least. As a lifelong fan of the Caps, i remember that days of “Choke Headlines”. Finally i can say that they have a chance and people don’t laugh. There are never out of a game, they have the ability to come back. Caps goaltending only has to be average and the rest we take care of it’s self. Why is it that no one talks about Semin, one word, “Threat”. He is scary, and just as much fun to watch as Ovi.

  5. Hoven - Mar 9, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Was this not the same Semyon Varlamov in net last night that had a nice run in relief of Jose Theodore in last year’s playoffs (the Eastern Finals game 7 Pittsburgh win aside)?
    Is Jose Theodore the same 2002 Vezina and Hart winning Jose Theodore?
    C’mon – these guys can get it done. Goalies run hot and cold (Marty Turco ran hot last night) – but to imply the goaltending situation is not Stanley Cup caliber is bs. Both Theodore and Varlamov can perform strong enough to win. They may not be dominant, but the scoring ability the Caps have provide enough buffer to overcome any issues.
    I see defensive issues that affect their goaltending – turnovers, poor board play, ineffective crease support, etc.
    Ask fans in Boston or Buffalo if they’re happy to have dominant goaltending and weak scoring – where’s that getting them?

  6. john - Mar 9, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    No more shoot-outs; we always leave the game before they begin. Better idea: four on four for five minutes, three on three for three minutes, two on two for two minutes then three penalty shots—one on one—yeah, put a defender out there, make it interesting. Total time isn’t that much, maybe ten minutes, but then again I have seen shoot-outs last longer than that.

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