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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Playing catch-up as losses abound

I saw my team play as hard as they could...well, at least the last game anyway.  My own in-house correspondent, the ever-lovely Mrs. Blueliner, informed me that the Caps looked "flat" against the Thrashers last Friday night.  As I've said before, I don't particularly care to use that word because it tends to be used so much to describe when a team doesn't get the job done.  But...if that's how they looked to her, then so be it.  I don't take her observations lightly--having watched so many great Fighting Sioux teams in her native North Dakota, she knows good hockey when she sees it.

I didn't watch a minute of that game and only listened to a few minutes via radio.  Unfortunately, I just plain got home too late.  I caught that Braden Holtby had been chased out after a horrible first few minutes.  He apparently yielded three goals on five shots and, as is so often the case with the Bruce after such a bad opening he got "da Hook."  The rest is history--a 5-0 shutout loss that matched my mood as it had been just an awful week all around for me.  See my last post for more information if you're curious.

Last night's game against the Flyers, even though it was another loss, was at least much more entertaining.   I mean that was a back-and-forth classic.  I'm mustering all the optimism I can for this, but I saw some good things despite the loss.  The first of those was Marcus Johansson scoring the goal.  He has really stepped up his game lately.  Personally I think the time in Hershey did him some good.  Some have said that's where he should have started the season, but it's too late to get into that discussion again.  Tomas Fleischmann played a pretty decent game as well despite only getting an assist an finishing a minus one.  I know I had been defending him earlier, but lately I haven't been too impressed with him.  Hopefully he's gotten himself straightened out.

One thing that definitely hurt the Caps during that game was all the penalties.  Yes, they had a lot called against them.  Yes, a good number of them were at least questionable--Eric Fehr's boarding call especially. But yes, the rest of them were deserved.  Some in fact were the result of either carelessness (Semin's slashing penalty), recklessness (Brooks Laich's goalie interference call), or just plain lazy play (John Carlson's hook that resulted in a 5-on-3).  Fortunately, the Caps' penalty killing was terrific.  Unfortunately they were not perfect.  Not saying the PK lost them the game, but take away the one goal and you obviously get a different result.

I also liked how they came back after being down 3-1 and 4-3.  More deposits in the team's character bank account that they can withdraw from come playoff time.  I felt pretty good when the game went to OT.  That is, until Nicklas Backstrom got that interference penalty.  Now, do I think it was deserved?  Of course.  It was away from the play, and by definition, Backstrom had interfered with the ability of another player to react.  But the Flyer player who was interfered with (sorry I didn't catch who it was) acted like he had been shot when he went down.  Say what you want about the application of the diving penalty, but that was one clear instance where it was BOTH an interference call and a dive.  I think the NHL should seriously consider levying suspensions for such behavior.  I like soccer, but I don't want hockey to start becoming more like it with all that unnecessary garbage.  We just don't need it.

Somehow, both teams were kept from scoring.  Once again, the penalty kill had risen to the challenge.  I'm thinking even though it's a shootout--which I loathe--the Caps have a pretty good shot because it seemed like Neuvirth was peaking again.  Then that little rat Danny Briere managed a score followed by a Semin miss which ended the game.  Pfui.

So it's on to Jersey tomorrow then to Carolina on Turkey Day eve.  Can't say as I'm sure what this week will hold for the team.  I have to say the same for the rest of my life as well.  It's pretty much make-or-break time for me as I'll be figuring out my fate by week's end, not that I have much choice.  Like the Caps, I could either come out of it with some wins, or continue being on the down side.  And, like the Caps, you never know what the result will be in life but you know it'll be worth hanging in there for.  Just hope it's not a blowout loss like Friday for me.  Maybe I'll get the same results that the Caps seem to be headed for--I think the Caps will be okay.  I think they'll have a good showing against the Devils and give the 'Canes all they can handle.

As always, I'm full of hope.  I'm not sure when I'll be getting back on here, but it'll be soon.  Thanks as always for reading.

REFILE - CORRECTING TERMINOLOGY  Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby skates toward the bench as he looks at the scorebaord after allowing the third goal by the Atlanta Thrashers in the first period of their NHL hockey game in Atlanta, Georgia November 19, 2010.  REUTERS/Tami Chappell  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)
Braden's looking upward for inspiration.  So am I.  For those of you that believe, keep your prayers going, it can only help.

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