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Good, Bad, and (Very) Ugly – 3 Games Tonight in the Caps Family

Posted November 20, 2011

It’s always a touch concerning when the sole bright spot in a 3-game, all-levels-playing night is your ECHL team.  Your South of the Mason-Dixon Line ECHL team.

While this was not the case tonight, it was pretty damn close.

"Problems? What problems?" The Hershey Bears and Albany Devils work out some lingering frustrations in the second period. (Photo credit: M. Richter)

Good Things:

The South Carolina Stingrays were shining brightly in Charleston, with a 3-2 victory over the Gwinnett Gladiators.  The win was facilitated by Capitals netminding prospect Philipp Grubauer (24 saves), and Danick Paquette, one of this summer’s trade acquisitions, walked away from the evening with 2 assists to add to his logbook as well.

That’s the good news, and it is unquestionably good – the Stingrays ended a 4 game losing skid, and maintain a .500 winning average in their last 10 games.  The rest of the news out of the Capitals organization and its affiliates is less so.

Box of Chocolates, Some Bitter & Some Sweet:

Despite a 2-0 lead to start things off, the Hershey Bears fell to the Albany Devils 6-5 in a shoot-out.  The loss came after sixty minutes filled with alternating one-goal leads and barely suppressed frustrations.  Given what happened last year when Albany and Hershey became frustrated, things were reasonably tame this time around.  Three separate fights broke out before things settled down at the halfway mark, including D.J. King’s first fighting major of the year.  King earned himself 7 penalty minutes this evening, which is the first time he’s managed to get on the scoresheet at all since the transfer to Hershey outside of the +/- column.

Unfortunately, the SO loss (which extends the current winless stretch to four) was not the only negative thing in tonight’s game.  The back-and-forth of the score over the course of the game reflects the inconsistency of Hershey’s play, especially on the blueline.  Most notably, Dmitry Orlov had moments of brilliance, including his fourth goal of the season and two assists, but was also on the ice for two goals against.  He continues to see increased ice time, and it’s clear that he’s benefiting from the experience.  But it should be noted that the Bears defense in general seems to be in a constant state of flux, so it’s hard to place him as a specific “first/second/third” pair defenseman at the moment.

When addressing the media following the game, Coach French was visibly frustrated with the current performance of the team.  While not calling out specific players, he referenced tonight’s game as “mediocre hockey” and emphasized the fact that he’s far from satisfied with both the end result and the fact that the game itself went to a shoot-out.

We’re not going to talk about Braden Holtby‘s little anger management issue regarding various members of the Albany Devils.  After letting in a goal due to tying up with one of them in the first period, we’re going to give him credit for being reasonably intelligent and call it lesson learned (until next time, at any rate).

The Monster Under Your Bed:

I’m going to preface this brief foray into tonight’s Caps game with the fact that I have not yet seen the game.  I was up in Hershey covering the Bears game, and then spent a not-insignificant portion of time driving along random poorly lit highways.  So I’ve seen the various Capitals fans on twitter attempting to implode, I caught the end-of-period scores, and I’ve reviewed the boxscore and various available stats.

That being said, there’s no word for tonight’s game but “ugly.”  Any loss that reads 7-1 is going to deserve that title, and this one ranks well above average in the “off-putting smell” category.  Toronto scored three (3!!) power-play goals, never mind the short-handed one.  What’s almost more impressive is that the only Capital who was on the ice for 4 goals against was Tomas Vokoun – this is not a situation where a single party (or a few individuals) can shoulder the entire helping of blame.  This was a [email protected]#$ by committee.

I’m sure that the rest of the Caps blogs out there are going to have a (by turns enraged and heartily depressed) field day with last night, so I’ll let them at it.

For tonight, I’m going to put my fingers in my ears, hum very loudly, and think of Carolina.  It’s like rainbows and kittens, except with the occasional line-brawl. #happysigh

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