Any holiday cheer that was ringing through the Phone Booth last night was eventually hampered by the Capitals' fourth loss to a Florida Panthers team that sits 13 points below Washington in the Southleast Conference standings. Despite the early Santa gift of eight - yes, eight - power play opportunities, the Capitals laid a goose egg in the 3-0 loss. Though credit should be given to Florida's penalty kill efforts for stifling the talented Washington offense, the Capitals power play was horrendous and many fans expressed their frustration by booing the team (which HM thinks is in pretty poor form, but that's a whole other blog post). We've seen this before - the Capitals doing too much "cute" passing and not enough shooting - during the power play and the results were nilch, even with a few golden 5-on-3 opportunities handed their way.
While Semyon Varlamov had a more than his share of splendid saves, it was Tomas Vokoun on the other side of the ice stealing the show with 36 saves to his credit.
Gabby tempered the anger he must have undoubtedly been feeling in the post-game presser but did call out his top players for their offensive struggles of late. Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Nick Backstrom and Mike Knuble were all mentioned - though the string of losses certainly falls on the team as a whole. While fans don't want to see their team in a funk at any point, this streak seems to be coming at a particularly bad time as the hockey world's eyes will be on the Washington/Pittsburgh rivalry in the days leading up to the Winter Classic and its' accompanying hullabaloo. And wouldn't you know it, the Pens' stock is through the roof right now. Sidney Crosby has led his team to 11 consecutive wins and sits atop league leaders in both points (50) and goals (26). While we all know that this losing streak would be much worse if it occurred in say, February or March, the troubling thing is the way the boys are losing and the opponents who are beating them. Maybe the HBO cameras and all the hype are causing some uneeded distraction, but the time to right this ship and focus on winning is NOW - especially with all the pieces finally in place.
HM will have the game day preview of the Colorado Avalanche later, but for now I leave you with this rather gross image of Ottawa's Matt Carkner possibly flicking blood towards the New York Rangers bench. If this is indeed what happened, HM thinks she's pretty much seen it all and this guy needs to be reprimanded for sure: