Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/28/12

Much has been said about why the Washington Capitals have had such an unexpectedly difficult season — most of the excuses focus around long-term injuries to all-star defenseman Mike Green and prolific center Nicklas Backstrom.  Some have also opined that the Capitals have had difficulty learning the new system necessitated by the replacement of head coach Bruce Boudreau by Dale Hunter two months into the season.  Last night, however, Caps fans learned the ‘final answer’ as to the reason for their difficulties:  the team doesn’t want to win badly enough to pay the price.  Sure, there are exceptions to that statement, but the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres provided every single fan proof of what we’d begrudgingly to come to realize over the past 77 games.

To a man, the Caps players and coaches all said the right things going into last night’s game.  It’s not worth listing a bunch of quotes to prove that — take it on faith that they knew how important the game was to their playoff chances.  So, if they knew it, why didn’t they play like they cared?

There’s no other way to describe their performance other than to say it was an embarrassment.  Buffalo showed up to play — Washington did not.  Buffalo scored twice in the first period, and although Braden Holtby’s inexperience between the pipes in critical situations played into both of the goals, he had little, if any, help from his blue liners.

The Sabres lit the lamp again early in the second period.  Alexander Semin’s goal about two minutes later brought Washington back to within two.  When Buffalo was called for hooking with three minutes remaining in the period, the Verizon Center crowd seemed to believe they had a chance if the Caps could score on the power play — they would head into the dressing room down by only one.  Instead, Alex Ovechkin at the blue line not only failed to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but was manhandled and beaten by a Sabre who was smaller and 45 pounds lighter.  The result was a shorthanded goal for the Sabres and the end of any hope that the Capitals could pull another rabbit out of the hat.

The Twitter comments on the Capitals mobile website were telling — although many shared the same sentiment, the one that said ‘the most important game of the season and the Caps don’t show up’ pretty much told the story.

Washington played like they really weren’t willing to do what it would take to beat Buffalo — and to make a big step toward making the playoffs.  If they couldn’t get up for this game, there’s not much hope that they will, and — in the end — that’s probably better than getting in and being swept (and embarrassed) by the number one seed in the East.

Let’s Go Caps!

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Cavaliers fan gets in shouting match with Dwane Casey

Report: Eric Decker skipped Jets OTAs in protest

WATCH: Rob Gronkowski taking ballet lessons is hilarious

Mark Jackson calls out Richard Jefferson for costing Warriors a series

Blue Jays GM: John Gibbons is ‘absolutely part of the solution’


Weak Canadian dollar could hurt NHL by as much as $200 million in revenue

Report: Pavel Datsyuk will join SKA of the KHL

Why Joe Mikulik should manage Braves for rest of 2016

Chelsea owns trademark to 'Jose Mourinho' name, complicating Mourinho’s move to Manchester United

Steelers' Ladarius Green sits out OTAs after ankle surgery

Dez Bryant: I’ll be ‘better than I was’ in 2014

Sharks advance to first Stanley Cup Final

Maryland's Melo Trimble returning to school

Showtime sues Pacquiao’s promoter over Mayweather fight issue

Geno Smith not answering questions about Ryan Fitzpatrick

According to college football recruits, flashy uniforms matter

Report: Marshawn has thought about return, but Seahawks may not want him

Eugene Monroe calls for NFL to end marijuana ban

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

John Elway: Losing both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler was ‘big surprise’

Ravens’ John Urschel earns straight A’s in four MIT classes

How Phil Kessel has thrived in Pittsburgh

Adams dealing with ‘testicular contusion’ after Green kick

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Sniping quotes highlight NHL conference finals animosity

QUIZ: Name every NBA franchise's original incarnation

The 15 biggest playoff upsets in NBA history

Cy Young Award contenders at the quarter mark of the season

QUIZ: Name the NHL franchises that have never won the Stanley Cup

How the goalies stack up in the Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker