Washington Capitals Shoot Selves in Collective Foot, Fall to Edmonton Oilers

On Thursday night, Washington Capitals fans across the blogosphere, in this context used to refer to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, were irate about the heaps of penalties being called against the Caps in their game against the Edmonton Oilers. Washington was penalized nine times over the course of the evening, five times in the second period. Coach Bruce Boudreau was turning his characteristic beet-red, and any conservative lip-readers watching the game would have been horribly offended.

Both of Edmonton’s goals came on the power-play, so fans (and coaches) have a right to be frustrated, but with the players, not the referees. Most of the officials’ calls were legitimate, albeit a little stricter than most players are used to. One of the exceptions that I saw was in the second period, when Karl Alzner, Washington’s lone goal scorer, was called for holding the stick…with his legs. The Oilers player’s stick got trapped between Alzner’s legs as they jockeyed for position in front of the net, causing Alzner to fall over. Yet he was assessed two minutes.

I would advise that the outraged fans need to calm down, and be reasonable, but hockey fans are not known for their level-headedness. I’m told that every cloud has a silver lining, although I have yet to witness this phenomenon myself. Regardless, Washington fans can take solace in the fact that when Washington wasn’t short-handed, they visibly out-played the Oilers for most of the game, getting 35 shots on net to Edmonton’s 19. The Caps’ solo score came from Karl Alzner, with assists from Jeff Halpern and Jason Chimera, which is another demonstration of the skill of Washington’s secondary lines. By contrast, both of Edmonton’s goals were from their young, top trio, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and promising rookie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This loss is not a cause for despair. Washington has put on an impressive showing this first month, and it appears that their off-season maneuvers have paid dividends.

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