Blog Entry

Caps facing monumental collapse

Posted on: April 26, 2010 11:49 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2010 11:03 am

The tag line for the NHL’s playoff promos this spring is “History will be made.”

Right now, the Montreal Canadiens will be happy to repeat it. And they just might after forcing a Game 7 against Washington with an impressive 4-1 win over the Caps.

Montreal has won more Stanley Cups than anyone, yet in their long and storied past, the Canadiens have managed to rebound from a 3-1 series deficit only once. That was back in 2004 when they sent higher-seeded Boston packing after the first round, a feat that could plausibly be duplicated against the Eastern Conference champion Capitals.

And if it does, you’ll have to look no further than Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak to understand why. The 24-year-old Slovak who started this season as the team’s backup has turned this series around with back-to-back superb performances, the latest one bordering on the remarkable.

“Sometimes goalies get in a zone where nothing is going to beat them, he was in that zone,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He was just out of his mind.”

Boudreau may have actually been understating things. Halak was that good, early in the game, late and at all points in between frustrating the Capitals in what was arguably their best outing of this series. And he had to be because Washington did a lot of things it wanted on the attack. The Capitals matched the Canadiens great speed by moving the puck well through the neutral zone and they spent a lot of time in Montreal’s zone while creating traffic in front of the net.

All in all it was a nice bounce back from a tepid effort at home two nights earlier, a high-energy effort that saw Washington fire 54 shots. But for all the pressure the NHL’s best offense was able to put on Halak, the Caps couldn’t find the back of the net until it didn’t really matter.

Montreal actually set the tone early despite the lopsided numbers  on the shot clock, in large part thanks to the work from their energy third and fourth lines, which forechecked aggressively and kept pounding the Washington defensemen deep in their own end. The effort contained the Caps to a certain extent, and Montreal’s shutdown defensemen Hal Gill and Josh Georges did some fine work whenever big guns Alex Ovechkin and  Nicklas Backstrom were on the ice. But keeping Washington in check indefinitely is next to impossible and the Canadiens didn’t.

The Capitals had plenty of chances, one of the best coming in the opening minutes when Halak robbed Alexander Semin from in close and gave the visitors an idea of what was in store. Halak made several other big stops before the period was over, a couple when Washington had 74 seconds with a two-man advantage.

Problem is Washington’s power play, the league’s best during the regular season, has been the bane of its existence during this series, and came up short in that pivotal situation. By that time though, the Canadiens had taken the lead on a pair of Mike Cammalleri goals within two minutes. And on this night, that was enough for Halak.

“Jaro stood on his head tonight,” Cammalleri said.

Actually he did more than that. Halak flopped. He dived. He kicked out his legs. He flashed his glove. He put up the kind of wall in goal that had to make the Caps think they were shooting at a Sumo wrestler.  And he sent this series back to Washington with the Capitals wondering what, if anything they can do to beat him.

“We have no choice have to wipe the slate clean,” Boudreau said. “If you start thinking and let him get inside your head, then you’re in trouble.”

Truth is Washington is already in trouble as it heads to its fourth seventh game in as many playoff series over the last three years. The Capitals have won one of those, but after running away from the pack during the regular season and coming into this series as heavy favorites, they’ll be facing the kind of pressure they didn’t before.

And they’ll have to prove they have the character to match their talent. After their last two efforts, you have to wonder if they do.


Category: NHL

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: April 27, 2010 10:03 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

Totally agree with all you said Hockey town.  Didn't like the trade for so many veterans so late.  Chemistry not same.  Semin and Green have not been same players.  Ovie Backstrom line hasnt been effected but PP has. 

Not a Theo fan but he should have played in game 5.  Said it before game.  WOuld have helped his morale and if he was hot we win at home.  If he wasn't you have a rested Varly.  Nervous Varly is following pattern of Pens last year.  Weakening as series goes forward. 

Still think Caps have too much fire power and just need luck of bounce 3-4 times in whole game to overwhelm Habs.  If they fall behind Caps they will go down hard.  I think PP will score 2 tomorrow.  Fat lady hasn't sung yet.  Will win 7-3. 

Caps fans stand behind team now.




Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: April 27, 2010 9:33 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

The Capitals have been outplayed in every facet of hockey. They seem like they expected the entire series to be handed to them from the start. If history does repeat itself then the President's Trophy winners will be watching the rest of of the Playoffs from home. Defense is standing around not knocking opponents out of Varlamov's sight so he can make the clean save. The Special Teams are not doing well at all. Hardly anyone is stepping up to shoot and score. The Habs are crowding Ovechkin so he can not shoot clearly and accurately. Ovechkin definately needs to pass to the open man when able and stop relying on himself so much. Having Nick Backstrom on the same line should help but so far it hasn't. The Habs seem to all over the ice like a bunch of gnats flying to puck wherever it is. If the Capitals don't want to dissapoint their fans then they better change things fast or they will never hear the end of it from the fans. If they want it bad enough they will outplay the Canadians Wednesday night in Washington. The Verizon Center will be rockin' in red like always. I know I'll be there.

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: April 27, 2010 9:26 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

Since: Sep 21, 2009
Posted on: April 27, 2010 9:18 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

I think he means they won the eastern conference regular season title but he really needs to proofread/fact check a little better.

Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: April 27, 2010 8:52 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

Perhaps one or more of them will be going spelunking come Thursday.

Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: April 27, 2010 8:48 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

Yeah "most best."  It's the new Canadian ebonics, haven't you heard?  LOL

Since: Apr 17, 2009
Posted on: April 27, 2010 8:41 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

Also...the Caps are NOT Eastern Conference Champions like he says. They are the number one seed, but certainly not champions.

Since: Feb 18, 2010
Posted on: April 27, 2010 7:46 am

Dzurilla - Halák

after Vladimir Dzurilla in 1976,  another heroic game from Slovak goalie in Montreal.Smile

Since: Sep 21, 2009
Posted on: April 27, 2010 7:22 am


By the way, it was 2004 not 2002 when Montreal came back down 3-1 against Boston. In 2002 Montreal won the series 4-2. Need to check your facts better....

Since: Mar 7, 2009
Posted on: April 27, 2010 7:15 am

Caps facing monumental collapse

It is coming down to Washington's special teams. They aren't showing up as they did in the regular season. Ask Buffalo how these playoffs worked out for them (PP% 0 and PK% 72.7) and you'd probably get the same answer. With the Caps suffering a PP% of 3.3 and PK% 0f 81.5 it isn't hard to see why they are struggling. I mean 1 for 33 (or something like that)? The one being more of a mental lapse in the Habs goalie rather than the set plays Washington scored on with regularity during the regular season. A PK% of 81.5 then wasn't so noticeable as long as that sweet 25.2 PP% was rolling.

It may be too that Coach Boudreau accrued so many weapons at the trade deadline that he simply has too many players to chose from. Why he sat out David Steckel for two games had me scratching my head. The man had 3 goals and 2 assists in last years playoffs including a game winner. He doesn't have any points this year but I think you have to be on the ice to score.

That said... The lady that didn't take the diet challenge isn't singing yet.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or