WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy. In fact, quite the opposite.
He took the podium for the post-game press conference, and from the get-go you could tell it was not going to be long, pleasant or pretty.
Asked if he thought his team let one get away, he responded curtly, “Of course … What do you think? We have Game Five in our building, and we play like crap the first 10 minutes and the game is over.”
It was a brutal, but honest assessment.
The Caps got down quickly, 2-0, and unlike other games this series, never caught up, losing Game Five of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the Montreal Canadiens 2-1, before a sold out, but disappointed, Verizon Center.
Washington simply didn't put out enough effort, skill or detemination to hold back a desperate Montreal squad.
"We're not getting 20 guys playing. We are getting 13 and 14 guys every night rather than everyone coming to play.”
"Tonight was had five or six passengers again."
It's a fairly damning statement that your head coach is willing to appear on a nationally televised press conference and essentially call out a third of the team for not showing up.
Again, brutal but true.
It would be very easy to speculate on which players Boudreau was referencing with those comments. But his words carry more weight than mine.
Asked if he would contemplate a roster change, considering the five-man taxi squad the team has carried thus far in the playoffs, Boudreau replied, "We'll think very deeply about it the next two days."
Boudreau's criticism of enigmatic winger Alexander Semin was blunt. "How many goals and assists did he get?" The answer: zero. "If we don’t get him scoring, then it is too easy to check certain guys. He just has to come through.”
"That's 12 games in row now in the playoffs he hasn't got one."
Not that anyone is counting.
For the second game, the team took a too many men penalty at a critical juncture, this time as the team tried to get Semyon Varlamov off the ice for an extra attacker at the end of the game. It just speaks to the lack of attention to details that could end up crippling this team.
So far against Montreal, the Capitals have been able to 'turn it on' for a period, despite some lackluster play at times, and salvage three wins, poised to move on to a second round match-up with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Friday night, however, the Caps couldn't find the switch.
They got one goal from their captain, another crease-crasher, but there were no typical long-range bombs, no wicked wrist shots, no one-timers on the power play.
Extra-man play in Game Five was especially disappointing. Washington was 0-for-5 on the power play, extending a brutal streak for the team, which is now one for its last 24 in this series.
There's just no guidance at all on the power play, no cohesion, no urgency.
Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak should be given some credit for the victory. He made saves on 37 of the 38 shots he faced. But a large majority of the shots he was were from an easy range. Except for a brief flurry in the second period, there were not too many close-in attempts from the Capitals.
The Caps still hold a 3-2 lead in the series, and took both games in Montreal earlier in the week. But what once was an enviable position has now turned into a dangerous proposition.
The Canadiens can only be empowered by what happened in Game Five, and momentum is a dangerous thing.
CAPS NOTES: The Capitals are now 2-7 in Game 5s when leading the series 3-1.
The Capitals were a perfect six-for-six on the penalty kill, the first time his series they have held Montreal without a goal on the power play.
Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves and fell to 10-7 in 17 career playoff games. Varlamov has allowed two goals or less in seven out of 17 games in his playoff career.