Photo courtesy of Getty Images
You never want a game to be over in the first two minutes of play but this one was, as before RCN's cable geniuses had even flipped on the feed Williams had scored and that was it, game, set, match.
It almost seemed inevitable. The Caps have been going at full speed for so long now, playing great hockey and for the most part getting results; a letdown was bound to happen at some point. You could see the signs beginning in the second and third period against Nashville. The Caps were lagging, tired, getting away from their system, and they survived with two points thanks to a combination of goaltending, defensive desperation and sheer dumb luck.
But there was no luck tonight. There was no desperation. And right from the start it was lights out for the Caps, who gave up two quick goals to the potent Chicago offense and never fully recovered.
In a way it was the perfectly timed blowout for this team. No, a loss is not good, especially with both Buffalo and Carolina picking up wins tonight. But if they're going to drop one on this road trip - and let's be honest, one is all they can afford - it's better that it comes against a team in the West. And the fact that it was so lopsided means they'll be angry, fired up, and ready to go when they take on the Southeast Division in the final seven games.
So what went wrong? The better question is what went right, as there seemed to be breakdowns on every inch of ice - poor defensive positioning, sloppy passes, undisciplined penalties. When they did connect with a pass their shots were blocked, the Chicago defense proving too much for the Caps. Olie didn't look half bad but he got no help from his team, no rebound assistance or run support of any kind.
Frankly this was not the team we've been watching the last few weeks, the team that has every NHL analyst and pundit and commentator raising their eyebrows and claiming the Caps may just have a shot.
And they still do have a shot, despite that loss. It was a messy, unfortunate loss but whether it was a 5-0 final or 2-1 final they only fail to collect two points and they live to fight another day.
Time to put this one behind us, kids.