Ted Leonsis Sees Plenty of Upside in Capitals as Slide Continues
"We got a point," Ted Leonsis smirked. "We played well and lost. Hit another bunch of posts."
Ryan Getzlaf's tally in the extra period gave the Ducks a 2-1 victory to extend the Caps' losing streak to seven games. Leonsis, who made his name and fortune as a cyberspace tycoon, has experienced longer streaks as owner, like when the Caps lost nine in a row in March 2007. Asked if he still has confidence in his team's leadership, Leonsis, who recently purchased the NBA's Washington Wizards, was concise.
Even the most pessimistic Caps fans -- and there were plenty here at Verizon Center -- could come away with a little solace as the team rebounded from Sunday's 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers. There were again a fair share of Washington players frustratingly looking toward the sky -- something Caps coach Bruce Boudreau hinted might not be a bad idea.
"Maybe God shined on us too much last year during the regular season," said Boudreau, whose team won the Presidents' Trophy for the league's best record last season, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs. "Maybe he's doing this to change the way we play. Maybe that's the way you play to win the Stanley Cup. I don't know."
The Caps turned in a solid -- if not always exciting -- effort in a game again filled with near misses. Brooks Laich, who gave the Caps the lead with a first-period goal, beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller through the legs only to have the puck swept away at the goal line by Getlaf. Alex Ovechkin clanged a shot off the crossbar on a breakaway in the second period minutes before Nicklas Backstrom's volley into open net went wide and found Hiller's right pad.
"When they're not going in, they're not going in," Laich said. "But I thought our team did a great job without the puck and, if we play like that, we are going to get rewarded for it. I thought the game plan the coaches set for us was done very well."
Mistakes also seem to become magnified in streaks like these. Caps forward Mike Knuble reached out with his stick and the blade struck the skate of Sheldon Brookbank on the Ducks' end of the ice, resulting in a tripping call.
"The referee had to call it," Knuble said. "My stick just got caught in the back of the boot. It was kind of a fluky one."
On the ensuing power play, Ducks forward Joffrey Lupul beat Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period.
Partially because Alexander Semin was out of the lineup with an unspecified ailment, Boudreau took the unusual step of matching lines with the Ducks. Laich, David Steckel and Matt Bradley were tasked to keep an eye on the line that features Bobby Ryan, Getlaf and Corey Perry, a trio Boudreau called the best in the NHL.
"These are veteran guys," Boudreau said of his shutdown line. "They didn't have the success they probably would have liked earlier on in the year, but I knew if I gave them a job that they would come out and do it and do it every well."
Hiller deserved plenty of credit for keeping the Ducks in the game, especially early as the Caps tossed 17 shots on net in the first period. (Ovechkin had six shots, four finding their way to Hiller.) Hiller finished wit 31 saves, while Varlamov had 22.
The Caps now have two days of practice before leaving to play the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
"We like the way we played tonight, (but) the results (are) not there," Laich said. "A lot of good things were done and we got a point, too. And whenever you get a point, it's nothing to be laughed at or scoffed at, points matter. I think we are on the way back up now."