Well folks, this is it, playoffs time...and it is good to be back.
Without going into a long sob story, good fortune has smiled on me after all the months of being away; my work situation seems to have resolved itself so that, income-wise, I'm about back to where I was before all this foolishment happened. Now if only gas prices would come down....
So with that out of the way, let me explain....no, there is too much so let me just sum up:
At first the Caps started out much like they ended last year, horrible power play, yet able to still win a lot of games. Michal Neuvirth won rookie of the month honors and Puck Daddy made an ass of himself explaining why he shouldn't have been. I've got four months of pent-up anger and I'm bringing the hate--no one is safe.
Caps pretty much played so-so hockey after that and basically rode their hot start into Thanksgiving, where things went into the tank for the team. It was about this time things weren't going so well for yours truly, either--no thanks to the economy. Thank you Mr. President and Congress. Not that the two are related, but I just like throwing that out there.
The wheels came off not long after the Scott Hannan trade. Again, not a direct cause. But after a questionable goal call led to a loss in Dallas, my team was at the top of downhill slide that would start them on an 8-game slide. It didn't help that the offense decided it was last April again and decided to go to sleep.
All this when the spotlight was brightest and HBO had their cameras on them for the 24/7 special.
In the midst of all this, the Bruce decided the team needed a makeover and start playing more responsibly in their own end. Let's just say this, while it didn't pay off at first, you certainly cannot argue with the results now. The Caps finally dropped the loser act in mid-December, just in time for the Winter Classic. It was a classic alright--a classic mucking and grinding game highlighted by a two-goal performance from Eric Fehr.
It was also the game where Sidney Crosby endured the first of his two hits that resulted in his just making back into practices now. I'm going to sidestep the idiocy that people brought in by declaring that now ex-Cap David Steckel's accidental collision with Crosby was anything but. Perhaps they should all be put into the new "quiet room" so they can all shut the hell up.
Caps continue on their .550 ways now lagging behind Tampa Bay for first in the Southeast. This was the adversity we were all hoping for. Except the team wasn't getting any better, and injuries weren't helping.
Then came the trade deadline.
Messers Arnott, Sturm, and Wideman were welcome additions to what was (at times) a foundering team. You certainly can't argue with the results--I think they only lost five games in regulation? No argument from me anyway. And while Wideman is (hopefully) temporarily M.I.A., the team has displayed a renewed vigor in its game. Not going to talk this to death--we've all seen the results.
So they draw the Rangers in Round One. I won't lie--this is the matchup I wanted the least. True, the Caps are nowhere near the confused squad that got left in the dust--twice by the Blueshirts earlier this year. But make no mistake, this team is D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S, either with or without Ryan Callahan. And King Henrik Lundquist does still have the ability to steal a series--arguably one of the best goalies this season. I ought to know, I had him on my fantasy team.
The pundits have weighed in and seem to be split. Some have the Caps winning in a walk. Others have the Rangers in a long, knock-down, drag-out, dogfight of a series. Still others have the Capitals in seven (yet again!).
My prediction? Sorry, I've watched wayyyyy too much playoff hockey by this team over the years to ever dare think I could predict what might happen. But I do know this: the playoffs are the one time of year the Capitals have waited for since 51 weeks ago. We all know what happened then. So, given that, the men in Red best be coming out snorting fire and ready to rip someone's head off right from the first faceoff. The very first minute will be key. If they come out flat, even after all they've been through, it'll be a long series.
Drop the damn puck!
ROCK THE RED!!!!!!