Harumph. Sorry but that's the best I can do to verbalize a sound of frustration. I'm not kidding either--it's a good thing I'm not doing a podcast right now because my voice is toast. I'm hoarse from all the yelling I did at my TV the entire 3rd period. You long-time Caps fans out there know what I'm getting at here without me having to belabor the point. When is this team going to get it? When is this team going to realize that, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you cannot take a night off!!! EVER!
All right, rant over. But once again, The Washington Capitals put on display the prime example of why not nearly enough experts favor them to win. They thought they could simply walk out on home ice and have Montreal roll over for them. They got the exact opposite. They played a desperate hockey team and failed to make the absolute most of their chances.
Sure they have some built-in excuses. Like the ridiculous foul-up on the plane ride home that delayed them several hours. Or the in-game delay because of some cameras not working. Or the questionable officiating.
"Series manager" Kevin Collins ought to get an earful from the Caps for the lousy job the two clowns did, whoever they were.
But bottom line time---they had ample opportunity to close it out by simply playing their game. You know, the game they played the last half of Game Two and all of Games Three and Four. Instead, they reverted back to the way they played in Game One, at least for most of the first period. Flat, uninspired, no hitting, back on their heels, no forecheck, no emotion. There's a four-letter word to describe that kind of play--blah. It turned out to be just enough to kill them.
For sure, they woke up later on in the game. Unfortunately, it seems so has Jaroslav Halak. He stopped nearly everything that was flung his way, except for a stuff-in by AO. And let that be a lesson to them. Halak is very good what he does, (35 saves in all tonight) but even he can't stop what he can't see. Put some bodies in front of him and don't be polite about it for crying out loud! This is hockey, not chess! Have they forgotten how they solved him in the first place?
What really ticked me off was how they played towards the end of the game. Where was the sense of urgency? Where was the will to win? Only Ovechkin looked like he was giving it his all---whatever happened to following the lead? They had better hope this was a one-game aberration, because yet another first-round seven games series is NOT going to help this team on the way to a longer playoffs. Way too much running around. Way too much lackluster puck possession. The power play is still swimming in mud. And Tom Poti needs to stop handling the puck like it's a milkshake---I counted at least three giveaways in the defensive or neutral zones.
Getting back to Halak, he looked like he was the one with the swagger this night. Gone were the shaking hands AO made mention of a few games ago. He looked a bit too comfortable out there as a matter of fact. Again, got to get bodies in front of him and not let him get into a groove. This kind of hot goaltending is what can, and so very often does, steal a series. They're getting the shots, and the chances, they just have to mean it...and want it.
Now our goalie wasn't too shabby either. In fact, he was probably our lone bright spot. Semyon Varlamov has definitely won back the starter's job convincingly, making 26 stops. Jose Theodore probably won't see the ice again this playoffs barring either a disaster or an injury. If Boudreau tries to play coy about his starting goalie, no one will buy it.
Other bright spots---Alexander Semin has come out of his coma, firing nine shots in the game. It's good to see simply because of the inevitability of at least a couple of those shots going in if he can keep it up. The overall team defense clamped down and played smart even if the team's defensemen didn't play like it. Jeff Schultz, Mike Green, Joe Corvo, and Tyler Sloan (Tyler Sloan?) were all a minus 1 defensively. John Carlson continues his impressive playoff showing by picking up an assist and being one of only two Caps who were plus players. The other? Tom Poti. Go figure. Well, it was something of an unusual game.
You have to know that we will see a better effort next game. The question is, will we see it in Game Six or in Game Seven? Bigger question--will Boudreau figure out what it takes to get this team to start playing consistently?
Wrapping things up here, I dare not make a prediction. See my previous posts for how well I've fared so far and you'll figure out why. And won't waste time or words with a full-scale analysis either. The Washington Capitals know exactly what they need to do. They need to show up ready to play, and just get it done. Montreal can still be beaten.
Now let's just see it. In the name of Rod Cory Langway, just get it the hell done!
Rock the red!