Number of People Nice Enough to Stop By....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Powerplay Point Podcast Show # 8

Yes folks, it is finally here, the moment so few of you have been waiting for...the return of the podcast.  Please remember that popcorn is for eating and not for throwing. Also that I'm actually the son of a Butcher.


Friday, February 22, 2013

ReCap 2/21 vs New Jersey

I have no earthly idea how else to say it...the Caps penalty troubles have reached epic proportions and no, I am not exaggerating.

So to express what I believe the Caps should learn from this experience, I am posting THIS as something of a parable which hopefully the whole Washington Capitals team can learn from.  Please take the time to read the linked article, then come back.



Read it all?  Good.  Figure out how it's important yet?  No?  Well I will tell you.  Simply put, the moral of the story is to....





STAY OUT OF THE DAMN BOX!!!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

ReCap 2/17 vs NY Rangers

And so the winning streak endeth.

We shouldn't have expected much more than this to be honest.  But you just aren't going to win many games by giving up 40 shots.  That's too much for any goalie to deal with and try to keep his team in it.  Braden Holtby did his job and more, though, stopping all but two shots sent his way. If only his teammates had help up their end and scored more than one. 

Holtby deserved at least a third star in the game.  Honorable mention should go to John Carlson, however.  He played what was probably his best game of the season, scoring the only goal, blocking three shots, and logging over 26 minutes of work.  The Caps will need him to keep up these efforts especially now that Mike Green's health is now questionable at best. 

We have the classic glass half full/glass half empty issue.  Taking away just the bad we have the 40 shots given up, the five power plays give up (one of which led to the game winner), and the sudden lack of finishing ability by practically the whole team.  Taking away just the good we have four of five of those penalties killed, Braden Holtby playing like playoff Braden Holtby, an edge in faceoff wins (BFD), and the fact that they kept up with one of the best rosters in the NHL for 60 minutes.

In the end however it was a chance for more standings points lost.  And with it the best possible playoff seeding.  This team can't afford to settle just yet, it needs to find another gear.

Friday, February 15, 2013

ReCap 2/14 vs Tampa Bay

Whew.....

I agree with Joe B., that was way more exciting than it had to be.  But a win, especially in regulation is one I will take every day.  Still, there's more than just lip service in Troy Brouwer's postgame comments regarding the Caps last few minutes of play.

It was another late night for me so I caught most of the game on the radio.  It was shaping up to be another good solid effort by the Caps. Brouwer opened the scoring (he's been doing that a lot lately, hasn't he?) with a power play marker. Perennial pain-in-the-Caps'-collective-butt Martin St. Louis tied the game six minutes later.  Though the Lightning seemed to come up with their share of scoring chances, it looked as if the Caps held a slight edge in the flow of play.

That's when Eric Fehr took over the game.  Yeah, I'm kind of regretting what I said about him a few games ago....that is, unless he disappears again and/or gets hurt.

But seriously, F-16 seems to be back in full stride.  He was ably assisted (literally) by his linemates Matthieu Perreault and Joel Ward, both of whom are in the midst of having comeback seasons themselves. Fehr first found the net on some great work in front of the net (hey, positioning is part of the art, right?) for the Caps' first lead in the second period.  He then put them up by two to open the third period scoring with a perfect blast that eluded Lightning goalie Matthieu Garon.

Random Jeers and Cheers:

Jason Chimera, what the hell? Get it together, you can play better than this.

Braden Holtby had another solid game, stopping 27 shots.  The starting job is his to lose for the time being and his mates are believing in him again.  Sounds like a good marriage to me.

Matthieu Perreault finally looks to have some linemates he can play with.  Although he is still not exactly top line material, the Fehr-Perreault-Ward line combo may be a solid one for the rest of the season and should see regular action.

Alas twas the end of the point scoring streaks that once belonged to both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribiero.  But the fact that neither of these guys had a point and the Caps were still able to produce, and win, is better news.  Because it means the system works.

Joey Crabb...continuing to do more with less.  Sounds like my overall budget.

And now back to the game.....

As I was exiting my vehicle to catch the last few minutes of the game I heard John Walton say that the Caps' next shot would be their 40th of the game. Unfortunately that shot never came.  Fortunately, it wouldn't prove to be their undoing.  The Caps had pushed things to 4-1 by then, but quickly gave up a goal to Teddy Purcell to make it 4-2.  No cause to worry, yet.

But for some reason the Capitals are a lot like my favorite football team the Baltimore Ravens...they just can't seem to make things easy for themselves.  And like a girl I knew in college, Joel Ward gave it away which led to a Nate Thompson goal for the Lightning.  The score was now 4-3 with more than three minutes left in the game.  Thus began the girding of the loins, the clenching of fists, the biting of nails, and the munching of sandwiches.

Somehow the Caps were able to hold off a suddenly desperate Lightning team that smelled blood.  And they were clearly gassed towards the end.  There was more icing in the last 90 seconds of the game than in 10 episodes of Ace of Cakes.  But the clock inevitably ticked down with the last clear and the Caps had two points all for themselves.  As a result of their current win streak, they are now in a three way tie for third in the Southeast division and are just four points away from a playoff seed.  They also happen to be one of the hottest teams in the NHL.  Much is still to be done, but things are looking a hell of a lot better than they were this time last week.

I certainly haven't forgotten the GWG.  If you wanted a "defining" moment to the game, I leave you with the following:

te·na·cious  

/təˈnāSHəs/
Adjective
  1. Not readily letting go of, giving up, or separated from an object that one holds, a position, or a principle: "a tenacious grip".
  2. Not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence or in a course of action: "a tenacious legend".
  3. Jay Beagle's play in front of the net for the winning goal, and at the end of the game       

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

ReCap 2/12 vs Florida: YES again!

The firewagon is back!

OK, not really.  But it sure did seem like it last night, didn't it?  Shades of the old Bruce Boudreau run-and-gun-and-trade-goals-til-you-outscore-'em Capitals.  When you knew they had enough firepower to make a comeback, no matter the score?  Yeah we might not have known it, but that's what we saw.

But while it's good to know that this Caps team is capable of winning games like that, hopefully they won't have to rely on it too much. Especially if the games go into overtime.  Why? Because as was pointed out yesterday in the Noon Number column over at Japers Rink, the Caps have a long way to go to be part of the playoff hunt this season.  And winning in overtime only helps a little since their opponents still get the loser point.

Not to mention the fact that under Oates' system, complete lapses and breakdowns are supposed to be near non-existent.  Last night I lost track of how many times there were either missed assignments, lackadaisical defensive zone coverage, and worst of all, really bad line changes.  Make no mistake, while Troy Brouwer's winning goal was a thing of beauty begun by Nicklas Backstrom's brilliant pass, the Caps were damn lucky to win that game with how they played at times.

My observations:

One half of the previous game's fight card, George Parros, saw his ice time cut down to a microscopic 4:02.  Unfortunately the same was not the case for the other half, John Erskine.  He played over 19 minutes and managed to score two goals--for Florida.  Granted they were both the fluky kind that makes one wonder whether or not somebody replaced the puck with something out of a Disney movie.  One goal went in off his elbow and the other off his skate.  Ersk, just a hint....you need to do a little more than play "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" in front of the net.  Just saying.

Braden Holtby didn't have a great game, but he was hung out to dry on several goals. But he did have that key save where he strrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeettttttttttcccccccchhhhhhhed himself out to stop a two-on-one. The play had resulted after the first of several horrid line changes that left a whole lot of empty ice with no Caps defensive coverage in it.  Bottom line--if Holtby doesn't make that stop, the Caps most likely lose. He may not have played well enough to earn a star, but he did save the game and the two points.  Most importantly, he didn't allow a single goal during the five (count 'em) power plays the Caps allowed.  Confidence builds when you know you can rely on your goaltending at critical times.

I've ragged on Eric Fehr this season a bit, but I will give him credit--he played a nice game last night. He collected a crucial rallying goal and added an assist.  He and Joel Ward could make for a very effective one-two punch on the team's two-way line going forward.

How about those unexpected goal scorers?  Matt Hendricks showed his sweet handedness by roofing a blind pass from Ovechkin. (Mrs. B's reaction--"That was cool!" Indeed.)  Karl Alzner blasted one off of a quick faceoff win for his first goal in....well, forever.  More on Ovechkin later, but is anyone outside of Caps Nation noticing that he's on a three-game goal scoring streak as well as a five-game point scoring streak?  So is Mike Ribiero for that matter.  In fact "Ribeye" is on pace for a 60-point season, something that's good enough for an 82-game season, but absolutely eye-popping in a 48-game schedule.

After a start that had many questioning his health, Nicklas Backstrom is quietly moving his way up in the scoring leadership on the team.  He now has 10 points which is good for third on the team.  And how about that zing of a pass that sprung Troy Brouwer for the game winner?

Wasn't all that impressed with Jason Chimera or Jeff Schultz last night. Chimera ended up with a minus three rating which was bad enough. Add to the fact he accomplished it in only 5:43 of ice time is enough to make you retch.  And Schultz continues to prove that the Sheldon Cooper method of playing defense is ineffective. For those of you who have long been critics of Schultz, you know what I mean.  If not, perhaps this will explain.

Not sure if it actually amounted to much, given the back-and-forth nature of the game, but kudos to all the Caps faceoff takers who collectively went 44 wins against 24 losses at the dot.

Good to see that Alex Ovechkin seems to be in full-on "I'm-mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore" mode.  I refer of course to his handling of Florida's fake tough-guy, Kris Versteeg.  The perpetually petulant punk dared instigate some rough stuff with the Captain and was promptly put in his place by the former MVP.  In addition to being tossed around like rag doll, Versteeg also got an extra two minutes in the box for his phony attempt at bravery.  (!!!!!!)  Doubly sweet was the fact that the ensuing power play resulted in the first goal of the game for the Caps.

Despite that he could have had an even better showing what with that shot that rang off the post (which apparently never went in).  He also could have ended the game with at least an even rating had he not flubbed that clearing attempt that led to the Panthers' opening goal off the stick of ex-Cap Tomas Fleischmann. (but not before bouncing off of John Erskine's aforementioned anatomy).

What was NOT good to see was that none of Ovechkin's fellow Caps could be bothered to jump in to back up their Captain.  Ben Raby actually made this rather astute point during the wrap-up of last night's radio broadcast of the game.  He pointed out that Matt Bradley once leaped in to spare Ovi from having to fight Steve Downie a few years ago during a game against the Lightning, and left it at that.  Good on Ben for pointing that out, but I won't leave it at just that.  What the hell is that?  You're supposed to be a team--back up your mates no matter what.  Those who were on the ice at the time need to be hauled onto the carpet for that.  They ought to be ashamed of themselves and are most likely part of the problem and not the solution going forward.  At the very least respond in kind and go after one of their top players.  But nothing of the sort happened.  And it's telltale signs like that's proving that this team hasn't yet come together as a team, which is sad.

So yes, we can all be happy with the two points and their first win away from home.  But there's still far too many rough spots in need of ironing for my liking.  In other words, don't go celebrating just yet.  Not at least until they get within sniffing distance of the division lead.  This team is far from being back, but at least they're headed in the right direction.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

ReCap 2/9 vs Florida: YES!

Now THAT was more like it!

Except where has this team been all season?  Nice of them to show up now, but we could have used this kind of effort and result about a week and a half ago.  It was probably as close to perfect as the Caps have gotten so far this season.

I know what you're thinking.  "The scoreboard says perfection to me."  Look, I want to believe it too.  And yes the scoreboard from the game looks very good.  But the standings still look like crap.  Come April, that's the only listing that really matters, not the score of an early-season division game.  However, if the Caps can manage to string more games like this together, things may well indeed look better come April.  Extra added bone for you glass-eternally-half-full people: the Caps now have just as many wins as do the defending Cup champs the Los Angeles Kings.

Oh yes, Braden Holtby was indeed the star of the game, and believe me I will give him his due.  But what impressed me even more (if that was even possible) was the total team effort.  Going up and down the lineup, I can't see anybody that had a bad or mediocre game.  Or for that matter anyone who was even invisible for stretches--that's the key, everyone contributed in different ways.  If I have any complaints it's that they collectively gave up too many shots (27) for my liking.  As is his job, when the Caps' defense did falter, Holtby was there.

Think about it, though.  No one really had a bad game.  If you watched, you could tell the effort was there by the play when the Caps didn't have the puck.  They hounded any Florida puck carrier relentlessly, earning themselves periods of sustained pressure.  Sometimes the Panthers found themselves trapped in their own zone for up to a minute or more because of the Caps' consistent forechecking pressure.  It truly was a thing of beauty.

Individual performances that stood out:

Tomas Kundratek is starting to impress me.  He's beginning to look more comfortable out there. Though he logged the least TOI out of all six Caps defensemen, he hardly looked out of place, especially in the transition game.  If he continues this kind of play, they might not miss Dmitry Orlov as much.

Can it be that we are finally seeing the real "Real American Hero" John Carlson this year?  That shot of his made an appearance, leading to the game winner.  Plus smooth skating and puck handling, like what we saw in last year's playoffs.  More of that, please.

Matthieu Perreault (1G, 1A) or Marcus Johansson (healthy scratch)?  Right now I'll take Perreault, at least he knows what to do with the puck when it's in front of the net.

John Erskine made it back into the lineup after serving a three-game suspension.  It was for a high elbow that bloodied and eventually gave a concussion to Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.  Erskine didn't provide eye-popping stats on the scoresheet--when does he ever?  But he made a valuable contribution nonetheless.  After starting with a flourish, the Caps seemed to be losing momentum early in the first period as the shots began piling up. That's when Erskine decided to tangle with the Panthers' George Parros, one big hombre to say the least.  Not that Erskine is a shrinking violet himself, as he would prove.

They fought at center ice and it looked like Parros had him at first after a few right hands when Erskine lost his balance and was on his knees.  But then a split second later, Erskine bounced back up and began swinging.  One of his punches made a solid connection to Parros' left cheek that appeared to have staggered the bigger man.  From then on, Parros hung on to Erskine's sweater and eventually wrestled him to the ice.  But Erskine had stood his ground and provided a much-needed wake up to his team and the crowd.  Job well done.

Joel Ward has been an unstoppable force in front of the net at times.  Maybe he's not supposed to be carrying some of the offensive load, but he is anyway.  Added a goal and an assist to bring his point total to eight for the season, tying him for second best on the team.  He also leads the Caps in plus minus with a +5 rating.  As dismal as this season has been so far, that should tell you something.

Of course I would have to mention that Alex Ovechkin finally broke through and scored a full and even-strength goal last night.  We can only hope that the curb-stomping in Pittsburgh (and in the hockey media as well as from, ahem, some bloggers) has finally awoken this sleeping giant.  You want to lead this team?  Shoot more, hit more, and be where you're supposed to be on the ice and to hell if the Canadian media doesn't like it.

Troy Brouwer got a side-of-beef goal for the opener (and eventual winner) and added a fabulous power play marker not long after that to give him the team lead in goals.  Along with Ovechkin, let's all hope he's finally getting into the season and that it's not too late.  In addition to his hitting, we definitely need to see him on the scoresheet a little more often.

Braden Holtby, Braden Holtby...wherever it was you went to, we are so glad you're back.  Twenty-seven times Florida shooters came at him. All 27 times he turned them away. One of those 27 was a key stop on a two-on-one on a shot from the Panthers' petulantly persistent Kris Versteeg in the first period.  No telling how the game would have gone had he not snapped his glove out and snared it with ease.  His confidence increased as the game went on and the team's did as well.  To top things off, he added a totally sweet assist on Troy Brouwer's power play goal in the second, helping his own cause.  After a terrible start to the season, a shutout is just what the doctor ordered.

Yes indeed the 0 looks terrific if you are a Caps' fan.  But another "O" that's looking good is Capitals Coach Adam Oates.  Because you see, the end result of this game was a result of playing his system the way it was meant to be played.  When it is played the way it's supposed to be, you will get timely shots on net, ample scoring chances, sustained puck possession and all the good things that come with that.  Did anyone else notice that on all of the goals, the eventual scorer was at exactly the right place at the right time?  Even on Brouwer's fluky game-winner?  Not unlike a chess game where you put your pieces in place, then strike.  Sound familiar?  Can we now stop to admire the brilliance of this man instead of calling for his head? 

Hell, even Jay Beagle had a quality scoring chance (that unfortunately he whiffed on) what does that tell you?

So we are at the first quarter pole and though it's been a rough start, it does look like maybe just maybe the Caps have turned a corner.  There's 36 games left and if they can turn in the kind of effort they did last night for the majority of those 36, we just might have ourselves something here.  The key word being effort--they have to show up.  But if it's anything I've learned in life, effort isn't much without first believing.  And this is a team that is finally looking like they are starting to believe.






Friday, February 8, 2013

ReCap 2/7 vs. Pittsburgh

Ugh.  Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugh, not even going to try.  As I worked late I was spared most of the awfulness that was the game last night, but that makes it no less painful.  I was treated to a sparkling Braden Holtby save during the Pens' seemingly endless run of power plays in the second period.  And then they ended up scoring their fifth unanswered goal.  Stop me if you've heard that before...oh that's right you have.  Because it happened the last time these two teams played not even a week ago.

Anyway, it was at that very moment that I turned the radio off for good that night.

I'm done trying to figure out what's wrong with this team.  Glutton for punishment that I am, I read Katie Carrera's column about the game in the Post.  Seems that the Captain, among others, believes that most of them lacked emotion.  Really?  Is that why the Penguins were so easily able to walk all over you?  And don't even pretend we're supposed to get excited over yet another Ovechkin power play goal.  Talk to me when you've figured out how to score five-on-five.

So now we have yet another issue at hand--lack of emotion.  As in the players just aren't into what they're doing.  This on top of allllllllllllllllllll the problems they already have. Great.  Can we say "blow up the team"?  Because it may just be time for that.  A miracle turnaround isn't out of the question for this season. However if this bunch isn't motivated for a game against what used to be a fierce rival, or any game for that matter given how compacted things are, then all hope is lost.  They may as well just finish out the season as passengers and await what happens on draft lottery day.

They've now imploded for two different coaches in the space of a year and a half.   It's time to start all over again.  I do understand what that means and the feasibility of certain moves (ridding themselves of a certain two very fat and ridiculously long contracts) might not be there right away.  But it still has to be done.  The Caps are going nowhere with this group and a wake-up call isn't forthcoming.  Which leaves only one solution.

Put everyone on the roster on notice.  No one is safe.  You want a job?  You've got to earn it, and your contract will be nowhere near what it was with the new CBA in place.  Because guess what?  That's how it is in the real world, a fact made painfully obvious to thousands of ordinary people every day.  Only their buyouts don't run into eight figures or more.. 

I'm done investing my emotion in this sorry bunch.  I will continue as a disconnected observer for now until they show me something.  Honestly. I liked them better when they were losing by one goal because of a stupid mistake.  At least for part of the game they cared.  Now it's painfully obvious that they don't. It doesn't matter that they called themselves on it, the old saying still applies.

You reap what you sow.  And this team is pulling up a bitter crop.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ReCap 2/5 vs. Toronto: Caps Lose Again, Man Bites Dog

Anyone one else getting tired of this?  I know I am.  I know many other of my fellow fans are.  But apparently the 20 men that have the ability if not the will to turn things around aren't.

And though things look pretty bleak right now there's still some hope.  And that hope lies in the reality that this season is still not yet out of reach.  But with each passing game, and the Caps' corresponding increase in ineptitude, that reality becomes harsher as the losses pile up.

But here's an even more sobering dose of reality--the Caps seem to be stuck on a treadmill of losing due to stupid mental mistakes.  The kind that make you want to jab an electric cattle prod in your eye. And as we all know, it only takes one such mistake to kill a game.  Not only that, but they have a mountain of issues within themselves to overcome.  To wit:

1. Everybody is still on the steepest of learning curves--not only is the team learning a new system, but the coach is learning how to be a head coach for the first time.  And to date, this is Calle Johansson's first gig as an assistant coach as well.  It's like a stage actor being thrown into a play with very limited rehearsal time--and the director and the stage manager just got the script a week ago.  Obviously everybody is still uncomfortable and this is going to take a while.  Hopefully Coach Oates will find some line combinations that work well as he continues to figure things out.  In the meantime, there's probably going to to be many more games like last night.  Hopefully after that we will see their real potential.

2. Both goalies stink and it's not their equipment--Neuvirth and Holtby have both had outings where they've given up goals they wished they could have back.  Neuvy's miscue with Tom Poti should not be happening, new system or not.  And Holtby has not looked comfortable in the crease at all this season.  As competitive as this season will be, you need a goalie who can steal you at least a point if not a win.  These two aren't even close to doing that.  One good way to shake up a team having problems is to make a trade.  If there's a deal to be done, (and the whispers are starting to get louder about it) it's here.

3. Five alive--While the power play seems to be back on track, their even strength play has left a lot to be desired.   It just seems like there's a fundamental lack of energy at both ends and backchecking strength is almost non existent. Was it any wonder that the only two goals they scored last night were on the power play?  Is it also any wonder that the grinders on the third and fourth lines seem to be shining while the top two are floundering?  Whether it's that they haven't bought in or they're still confused about what to do, the top players need to be the top players--at both ends.  Which leads to....

4. Big money needs to play like it--The Caps two highest paid players, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have been at best, painfully ordinary.  At worst they have been simply awful.  Oates' system demands efficiency of movement and these two look terribly out of sync with their teammates whenever they're on the ice.  Again, no matter the reason, these two simply aren't doing the job they need to.  Whether it's Backstrom's health or Ovechkin's heart it really doesn't matter anymore.  Separate or apart, they both need to find a way to be the dominant force they once were.  And they can do their part by preventing goals as well as scoring them.

5. Young gun needs to act like it--Mike Green needs to unload that wonderful shot we all know he has.  The fact that he's logging a buttload of ice time means he back at 100% which is great news.  But it won't amount to much if he doesn't make use of his greatest asset.  While we're on the subject of young defensemen, John Carlson slowly seems to be shaking the funk that has caused his (so far) horrible play this season.  Which is a good sign as he will be a key cog in the Caps' plans for this season and beyond, as will Karl Alzner.

6. Discipline, discipline--The Caps have treated the penalty box like a hotel room this season, and even when they kill off the penalties it still costs them in the long run.  This is another problem that has nothing to do with learning a system.  It has everything to do with being a better hockey player.  There's no excuse for not knowing when to hit the ice for a shift because you can't be bothered to figure out there's already five of your teammates out there.  That's what happened last night. The end result was another two minutes wasted in killing a penalty that should not have been.  As has always been the case, smart penalties are ok, dumb penalties not so much.  Unfortunately the Caps have been committing more of the latter.

7. Finally, they need to finish--meaning not just score goals, but actually put away teams when they're vulnerable and on their heels.  The Ottawa game was a classic example. So was the first game against Toronto.  Even last night they had a chance to plunge the dagger into the enemy's throat--despite being down by two, they came out swinging in the third against a shaky goalie and couldn't finish the job.  It's not like this hasn't been said before of this team, but they need to develop a killer instinct.  And again, due to the shortened season, it is more important than ever because the more points collected in regulation, the further you distance yourself from the rest of the field.  Unfortunately, it works both ways as the Caps are now learning.

So a quicker summation for last night's game--better five-on-five play, cut down on the mental mistakes, and more shooting and the end result would have been better, right?

Looks like I should just copy paste that last question as it will probably be how most games end this season.  And the Caps seem to be learning from their mistakes as quickly as Jeff Schultz can skate.  Yuck.

You the reader may have problems with this list and you're entitled to disagree.  In fact I encourage it. I'm certainly not going to claim these are all of the problems.  But it is what I'm seeing when they play.  And since everybody from The Hockey News, to Puck Daddy, to Hockey Night in Canada seems to be weighing in on the Caps woes, I figured I would as well. But unlike them, I refuse to simplify the problems with this team as simply two things--blame Ovechkin, blame the system. To be sure those two aspects are the heart of the problem, but every team loses and wins together.  As a team.

I end with a critique of one of the Caps' beat writers, Katie Carerra.  To quote her article in today's Washington Post regarding last night's game the Capitals "could not solve" Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens. Seriously?  Could not solve? With all due respect, Ms. Carrera were you even watching the game last night?  Scrivens was practically giving the Caps glorious rebound opportunities like it was Valentine's Day at an elementary school.  Could not solve?  Ben Scrivens was most certainly not a Rubik's Cube, last night he was more like a coloring book.

Only the Caps could not stay within the lines.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

ReCap 2/3 vs Pittsburgh: Stupor Sunday

The Washington Capitals are inventing new ways to disappoint their fans. I don't think I need to say any more than that.  Not after this last game.

On a brighter note, I am a Ravens fan, so I know  THAT team will at least show up.

Will the Caps do likewise?  Eventually they might.  But it's already too late.  As you will all find out in my new podcast, I had this figured even before it began.  And I have some reasons why.

Oh I'll keep watching and commenting.  What else are we to do?  But you can't say I didn't tell you so.

Friday, February 1, 2013

ReCap 1/31 vs Toronto

Seems like the Caps are feeling generous lately.  Once again they were winning in a game and then decided to give it away like a father does with his ugly daughter at her wedding.

I had a baaaaaaaaad feeling about this game going in.  The Leafs were on something of a skid, having just lost Joffrey Lupul to a broken arm and Phil Kessel struggling to get going so far.   And of course, they have the most reliable goaltending tandem in the league.  So reliable in fact that they're reportedly the top contestant so far in the Roberto Luongo sweepstakes. So they seemed like easy pickings, eh?  Yeah, sure...I knew otherwise.  So I figured I'd stay away from watching because I just couldn't bear to witness yet another debacle.

As it happened, I was with Mrs. Blueliner in her new house and the cable hadn't been set up yet.  Without my asking, she was periodically checking on the game through her mobile phone as we were enjoying the view of the unpacked boxes.  Out of sheer morbid curiosity I asked her how it was going.  To my surprise, the Caps were making a game of it.  But I will never forget the look on her face as she shook her head each time she checked her phone.

The reason for this was because every time you turned around, there were Washington Capitals going to the penalty box like it had an open bar in it.  Five minors in the first period and three more by the end of the second.  I've said this before--this is not football...you cannot have eight men in the box!

By the way, the last two penalties are worth mentioning: Troy Brouwer for smothering (presumably the puck) and Jay Beagle for holding.  Smothering and holding?  What the hell were these two guys doing?  Trying to go on dates during a hockey game?

Amazingly enough, they only gave up one power play goal during all that mess.  It just happened to be during Jason Chimera's double minor.  OK so six out of seven power plays killed, Alex Ovechkin scores on the power play, Mike Ribiero and Joel Ward continuing to contribute.  Lots of good things happening so they should have come away with the win, right?  Wrong.  More checking the phone, more shaking of the head.

Here's my list of what I call the "Ain't Gonna Cut It" s:

Eight penalties called in total for seven power plays given to the opposition
Forty shots given up
41% faceoff percentage
And for the gazillionth time, leading after two periods and blowing it in the third

All of that "ain't gonna cut it."

Still plenty of time, still more than enough hockey to be played where they can make this all look like a happy accident.  But they're starting to run out of time and, worse, they're starting to look like a team that will never learn from its mistakes.  And they're in danger of making it look like they're having an accident--all over themselves.

The disdainful look on Mrs Blueliner's face during and after the game said it all.  If only she hadn't broke my camera when I tried to take her picture.