Beninati: Defensive Breakdowns

Beninati: Defensive Breakdowns
February 12, 2010, 5:08 am
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Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:44pm

By Joe Beninati
Capitals Play-by-Play

Don't stand too close to Bruce Boudreau right now. He's not thrilled at all with the way his team hasabandoned it's defensive structure. The Capitals lost another wide open, full-tilt, free-for-all in Ottawa tonight.

Alex Semin put on a shooting display for the ages with three filthy wrist shots that left poor Brian Elliot in the Ottawa net without a prayer. When the Caps are at their best they are minimizing the quality chances they surrender in their own zone. That wasn't the case in this contest.You would have thought the Capitals would have been more protective of Semyon Varlamov in his return to the big leagues after missing two months with injuries to his groin and knee. Varlamov was erratic tonight. At times he showed the rust you'd expect after only playing
two American hockey League games with Hershey since December 7th. He had a couple of goals leak through him.

We've seen him stop the markers from Alfredson and the one by Kovalev which was the eventual game winner. I thought he showed good form in the second period. He made two nice stops on Mike Fisher and another on a Jason Spezza breakaway. Spezza was really strong in the first. The Senators have been victorious in 13 of their last 14 and it has been Spezza driving the bus.

The Caps fell into another first period pitfall tonight. They were a step late for most of the frame and defensively they were indifferent about closing attacking players off. Working without Tom Poti and Shaone Morrisonn did not help. Those two can be considered the Caps most solid blueliners in their own end. They are the most responsible and without them there would be more than a few glaring breakdowns.The Senators were very strong blocking shots this evening withAnton Volchenkov, their ring leader. A tired looking Alex Ovechkin was not at his most effective best.Back-to-back 6-5 losses will drive the coaching staff crazy. The team needs a couple of sharp practices to refine it's game. Those will come after the Olympic break. In the meatime they'll turn their attention to the Blues on Saturday, in a game you can see in high definition on CSN.