Last night's blown-lead loss was another blow to the psyche, none better depicted than in Travis Hamonic's post-game (video below). With even the players appearing to realize that the dream of hot playoff action has slipped away ... time to enjoy the spoiler potential?
They certainly didn't spoil anything last night. But the remaining schedule contains a few opportunities. (And please, I know some people take the "spoiler" role as some sort of worthless insult or whatever. Kindly have patience for those fans who find some bemusement in it.)
For coin-flip chances on remaining games, SportsClubStats has playoff chances like this:
(I left off Toronto and teams below them, where the chance drops to 0.5%. Also Ottawa, who's up at 93.4%. This race is clearly between the Southeast non-leader candidates and Tampa Bay.)
Of those teams, the Islanders have already closed out the season series with Buffalo and Washington. But they have a game each remaining against the Lightning (March 24, Tampa), Panthers (March 25, Sunrise) and Jets (April 5, Long Island).
The Florida stretch is part of a five-game string that also visits Montreal and Toronto and ends in Pittsburgh on the first half of a home-and-home. Those games will provide their own intrigue, but if things continue as they are, the three games against Southeast teams could have big playoff implications.
(And speaking of the stumbling Southeast teams, this is a fun look: How to Win and Still Be Historically Bad - The Copper & Blue )
About Last Night
As noted by Eric Hornick: Over the last three games, the Isles have trailed for 85 seconds ... and have lost all three (OT/SO asterisks apply). Impressive.
Some coverage of last night: Caps angle from Japers' Rink | Caps talk about the silly penalty disparity last night, made worse by a missed high stick | Two sides to every story: Not that the Isles folded, but that the Caps leaders stood up during the second intermission
Divorced from fan loyalties, it was an interesting game because of how the Capitals started in a "must-win" (or rather, "must give self chance to win") sort of game against a beatable opponent.
From the Islanders post-game, Jack Capuano:
"We talked about Ovechkin all night," Head Coach Jack Capuano said. "You have to recognize who you are out against. He was able to get a couple of chances and when he did, it was in the back of the net."
Ovechkin's victims included noted Selke-type Frans Nielsen as well as aging veteran Steve Staios, so certainly culpability falls all around the roster.
Andrew MacDonald in Newsday's post-game: "For whatever reason, we've changed the way we play in the third period. It's frustrating." (I don't think this means there was a deliberate change, but I could be wrong. Context.)
Hamonic, asked what lessons can be taken from this: "Shoulda learned the lesson two weeks ago ... whatever it is, we gotta nip it in the bud right now." Clearly a collective frustration there, and you just wonder if there's thought to the source or identity behind the problem.
Fabric can unravel as players feel either 1) teammates aren't doing their jobs or 2) coaches aren't putting those teammates in the proper position to succeed. Not saying either is running through that room -- it's always depicted as a group that gets along great -- but at the end of the season as some players look to the future while others wonder what tomorrow has in store, those lines can develop.
Also, details of his contract are up on CapGeek now. The AHL salary ($70k) is a little higher than usual, the contract signing bonus is $277,500 ($92,500 per year for cap purposes), and his NHL salary before bonuses goes from $742,500 next season to $925,000 in the final two years of the three-year ELC.
Nothing crazy, but nice work if you can get it.
- With some Caps hero at the Coliseum behind their bench last night, here's an interesting window into the Capitals' journey away from the Coliseum on that fateful night in 1993.
- Might as well look at Craig Button's updated Top 50 Prospect list.
- You don't say: NHL GMs Meetings: Alexander Radulov ruling rankles some GMs - ESPN
- Interesting: Suit takes a slapshot at NHL TV "blackouts" - NYPOST.com
- And while we're on the subject of coaching and accountability and all that, this actually sounded far from harsh: Head coach Tom Renney's post-game criticism of youthful Oilers out of character - NHL.com - News