"All right, men. Now that we're in first place, let's go out there and rest on our laurels." OK, maybe that isn't exactly what Bruce Boudreau said before yesterday's 3-Zippy loss to Buffalo, but considering how flatly they played, it might as well have been.
The Caps were on a season-high six-game winning streak that had brought them to the top of the standings. Gabby told reporters he thinks that caused the team to take their foot off the gas a bit: "It looked like we were happy with six and complacent because they’re not used to smelling the air that they’re at. It is quite different from being the hunter to being the hunted.”
Now, in fairness, the Buffleslug's goalie, Ryan Miller, is one of those all-world talents. When he's on, ain't nuttin' getting past him. And he was pretty on last night. The Caps did rip 35 shots at the guy, but the number of scoring chances probably wasn't that high. The Sabres did a good job of keeping the chances to a minimum, limiting the quality of shots. Miller can knock 'em all down if they're coming from wide angles at the boards.
The Caps did mount a third-period flurry, which impressed some Buffalo players. Steve Montador said that there "were two jaw-dropping saves. There were stretches in the third where we probably could have done a better job, but at that time of the game we had dominated and done a good job of limiting their top line."
It's that domination that's a bit of an oddity. In the two games that Ovie's been back, they've scored 0 and 3 goals, while in the two previous games with him out, they put up 6 and 8. Fluke, of course, but the team has played incredibly well when Ovie's been out.
That's certainly a testament to the team that George McPhee has put around Ovie, and Gabby's coaching.
So they had a bad game. As long as they get the stinkers out of the way in December, as opposed to June, things will be fine.