Mar 27, 2012, 9:53 PM EDT
Sure, it’s perfectly reasonable to focus on the Buffalo Sabres’ big 5-1 win, but let’s face it. The Washington Capitals’ 2011-12 season is a story of seemingly perpetual disappointment and this latest whooping just spotlights that.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
The excuses are in short supply, too.
Dale Hunter opted to start Braden Holtby, a goalie whose small sample success almost comically camouflages the fact that he probably shouldn’t have been in this position.
Holtby eventually seceded the net after allowing three early goals, but even in a precarious spot at 3-1, the Capitals had half of a game to take advantage of a Sabres defense that was suddenly short two of its best guys when Andrej Sekera and Christian Ehrhoff were sidelined. Instead, Washington allowed a backbreaking Jason Pominville shorthanded goal in the second period and a Drew Stafford 5-1 tally halfway through the final frame.
The Capitals cannot even pin the tail of blame on their road woes, either, as they watched the Sabres take a two-point lead for the East’s eighth seed at the Verizon Center.
About the only signs of life were that Alexander Semin scored their only goal and they at least fired a desperate amount of shots, hammering 35 on goal in the final 40 minutes alone.
Still some hope
Sure, they wouldn’t scare anyone, but it wouldn’t be impossible for the Capitals to back into the playoffs even after this disgraceful defeat. Here are the remaining schedules for Washington and Buffalo:
Thursday: at Boston
Saturday: vs. Montreal
April 2: at Tampa Bay
April 5: vs. Florida
April 7: at Rangers
Friday: vs. Pittsburgh
Saturday: at Toronto
April 3: vs. Toronto
April 5: at Philadelphia
April 7: at Boston
Washington trails Buffalo by two standings points after this loss, which is no-doubt enormous. The good news for the Capitals is that they hold the regulation/OT win tiebreaker advantage (36 to 31), so the Sabres need to finish with at least an extra point.
On paper, the Capitals’ schedule actually seems a bit easier, although Buffalo will likely lap up at least three points in that home-and-home series against the free-falling Toronto Maple Leafs.
All of that hopeful discussion aside, this is an enormous win for Buffalo and a brutal loss for the Capitals. Washington can only look in the mirror to explain its problems and it’s hard to say that the team has it in them to shake off this loss.
Even if they do, the Capitals also have to hope that the Sabres stumble along the way after losing “control of their destiny” tonight.
- Gomez goes full circle by rejoining Devils on tryout basis 7
- Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard 5
- Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha 17
- It’s Detroit Red Wings day on PHT 23
- Under Pressure: Nathan Horton 8
- Will Johansen be the latest Overhardt holdout? 24
- It’s Columbus Blue Jackets day on PHT 15
- Shanahan tasked with ending years of collapses 9
- Looking to make the leap: Peter Holland 1
- Under Pressure: Randy Carlyle 5
- NHL-to-Vegas talks gaining steam (68)
- Report: Bruins need to make a trade (61)
- Sounds like San Jose handled stripping Thornton’s captaincy really well (43)
- Fanspeak: Mats Sundin voted greatest Maple Leaf in franchise history (43)
- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history (41)