by Dion Johnson
Special to the AFRO
The Capitals have the third most wins in the league (34-16), but will need to play better than last Thursday’s performance to remain among the NHL’s elite. (Courtesy Photo)
(February 10, 2009) – It often happens in all sports.
There is a young, up-and-coming team full of superstar skill, which captures the masses attention as a “feel good,” story, by rising from the low ranks to become a dominant force. This was the case of the Washington Capitals last season, who’ve perhaps positioned themselves as a true Stanley Cup championship contender.
But after a three-game winning streak (two of those games against perennial powerhouses Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, the latter being the hottest team in the league at the time), the Capitals put up a lackluster effort defensively against the Los Angeles Kings at home, losing 5-4 last Thursday at the Verizon Center.
The Capital scored within the first 15 seconds, courtesy of Mike Green, but didn’t score again until the late second, and by then, the Kings (23-21 overall) had numerous easy breakaways and far too many defensive breakdowns and scoring chances.
It wasn’t until the third period the Caps finally played with the passion that has engulfed this region.
When the Capitals play with that passion, it’s hard to beat this team.
In the third period, Alex Ovechkin scored his 200th career goal, becoming the fifth fastest player in NHL history to accomplish that feat.
Capitals’ Bruce Boudreau was not a happy camper in his post game press conference and he shouldn’t have been, nor was Ovechkin, who spoke in a whisper.
This loss may be just the proverbial “let down,” after three impressive wins and most will have to accept that. But, no one wants to see this team lose to teams they should defeat, especially at home.
And if Washington is to be mentioned among the NHL’s elite with teams such as the Red Wings, the Devils, the San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins, performances like last Thursday must remain few and far in between.
The Washington Capitals bounced back from its loss to the Kings with a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers last Friday at the Verizon Center, advancing to a 34-16 overall record, good for the third most wins in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins (39 – 8) and Detroit Red Wings (35 – 11).