Capitals May Be Even After Game 4, but Penguins Have Been the Better Team
PITTSBURGH Scenes from a road trip gone terribly awry:
A lethargic Mike Green, giving away pucks that sometimes lead to goals.
Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom inexplicably playing catch on the power play, graciously doubling as penalty-killers for the Penguins.
Simeon Varlamov, finally mortal in goal, the kid unable to stop five shots -- including at least two he should have had.
And Alex the Horrible, sulking in the penalty box after a controversial hit that left Sergei Gonchar writhing in pain and holding his knee on the ice.
"That's three games in a row where he's out there trying to hurt guys," Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik claimed. "You just watch the way he hits." Orpik went on to say Ovie "likes to target the Russian guys, for some reason."
Never mind Orpik is the same cheap-shot artist who speared Semin in the groin in Game 1. No.
All even, all contentious.
The Penguins didn't merely hold serve on home ice; they continued a deepening trend that began in Washington a week ago. Look, it's obvious to any observer not wearing an oversize Rock-the-Red T-shirt to bed or so stuck in denial about their team they can't cope with reality:
The Caps haven't been the better team in this series. That fact merely caught up to them in Pittsburgh. Now, with Game 5 on Saturday night at home, Coach Bruce Boudreau has some serious questions to ponder:
For starters, what's wrong with Green? If it's not an injury, something is amiss because the Capitals defenseman just looks trapped in thought, as if he's thinking the game rather than instinctively playing it. He's tentative when it comes to scoring chances, the hellion aggression missing on both ends. When he finally knocked a Penguin off the puck late in the game, it was almost a flashback.
Boudreau claims Ovechkin has no health problems, but except for a few rushes and some big hits he wasn't the same fierce presence at the Igloo that dominated the late stages of Games 1 and 2 in Washington. He didn't seem disinterested, but his chances seemed to decrease almost as his team's desire at the end, and that's a bad sign because this team goes as Ovie goes.