Recap: Capitals at Bruins      by: Matt Witting         October 8, 2001


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   The Caps got off to a good start against the Bruins as Ulf Dahlen drew a penalty less than one minute into the game.  The power play started off strong, but had trouble keeping the puck in the zone and was unable to convert.  Throughout the first period, the Kono-Dahlen-Halpern line looked dominant, generating a number of scoring chances, but made one critical miscue.  The Bruins cleared the puck out of their zone and Halpern was unable to handle it in the neutral zone.  A Boston player sliced past Halpern, gathered up the puck, charged into the Caps zone and centered it perfectly to Marty Lapointe in front of the net.  Reekie failed to wrap Lapointe up and he tapped it in for his first goal as a Bruin.  The Caps killed off a shortened five on three at the end of the period that occurred when a puck slipped by Olie in the crease on a PP shot from the point and Cote blatantly held a forward’s stick to prevent the tap-in goal.

Boston has looked very solid defensively, especially in the neutral zone throughout the first period.  They’ve prevented the Caps from getting organized rushes and have handled dumps very well.  Byron Dafoe has made a couple of great saves on Dahlen and Jagr.  For the Caps, the Bondra-Nikolishin-Linden line has looked the best so far, followed by the H-D-K bunch.  Jagr, Oates and Zubrus have not been in sync much and have tried to be too fancy.  Witt dished out a couple of great hits, as did Stephen Peat. 

The second period was all Bruins as they really took it to the Caps.  The Caps penalty killers finally let their guard down and the Bruins scored on consecutive power plays early in the period.  With Boston holding a 5-1 edge in power plays, the Caps finally got a couple of chances of their own but were unable to generate any offense at all.  Boston was able to clear at will and Washington was completely blocked from setting up their power play.  The Capitals were not playing like a team that was interested in winning.  Possibly because of all the time spent shorthanded, they looked out of sync at both ends.  The Bruins clogged the neutral zone and prevented the Caps from generating anything.  Boston also out-muscled the Caps up and down the ice.  As sharp as Olie looked in the first period, he’s out of it in the second giving up huge rebounds right and left.  Credit the Bruins, they’re out there and ready to play.  The Caps really need to get back to what makes them successful and not try to run and gun. 

The third period was a carbon copy of the first.  The Capitals tightened up defensively and moved the puck more effectively in the neutral zone.  They weren’t able to crack the Bruins defense, however, and Dafoe turned away every shot he faced.  Boston got one more puck past Kolzig in the third when Emmons fired a shot from the blueline at Olie.  Kolzig turned it away with the blocker, but gave up a 15 foot rebound onto Knuble’s stick and he buried it.  No one covered Knuble, and Olie was well out of position.

Overall the Caps played a terrible game while the Bruins played quite well.  Washington didn’t stick to their defensive schemes, the forwards tried to get too fancy with the puck, and Kolzig was not at his best.  The only real highlight was Stephen Peat decisively winning a fight.  The Capitals can’t repeat this kind of lackadaisical performance and expect to win many games, especially on the road.  The Caps were outshot 32-22, giving up 30+ shots for the second straight game.  They were 0-7 on the power play and allowed Boston to convert 2 of their 9 chances.  It had to happen at some point, so hopefully the team will react to this very early wake up call and get their act together.  With 8 of the next 9 games on the road, it would be very easy to dig themselves into a hole here.