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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

ReCap 3/31/13 vs Philadelphia

Loser points are for losers.  And that's just how the Washington Capitals played for the last seven plus minutes of their game tonight against Philly.  So it's appropriate then that all they would come away with, was the loser point.  Play them horns!

Play them all night long!!!!!

Honestly, when is this team going to figure out that there are 60 minutes in a game?  Not 55, not 52, not 53, but 60.  Sometimes more if overtime is involved.  This team packed it up with about seven minutes to go.  How many times have we Caps fans lamented this fact that nobody seems to realize you don't win unless you're LEADING after 60 minutes of play?????

It was a heck of a run with this team managing 10 wins in March, as Joe B referred to during the Comcast showing (nearly to ad nauseum, might I add).  But when you can't win the tough games, you might as well not be playing at all.  And so we all know what will happen now.  This team will miss the playoffs.

And you can't say I didn't tell you so!  Because I did!

Truth is, the Capitals do not deserve to make the playoffs.  You can't coast against any team in this league and get rewarded for it.  And yet it happens.  Over and over and over again.

The trade deadline is in three days.  The Washington Capitals better be having a fire sale happening, because everything must go.  At least that's what I'd like to see.  But it won't happen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

ReCap 3/24 vs. NY Rangers

Unbelievable as it may seem, it appears that we Caps fans may have finally seen the day in this season where we can all stop asking "Why can't they play like that more often?"

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way when you're working out of a struggle you lose something.  That something may have been a part of you that needed to be shed, and yet the same time was a part of you.  This might be the key to why the Caps have been so inconsistent over the years.  They might be back, but they clearly are not the same team, the juggernaut that a lot of the current fans grew up with and came to love. Maybe winning does cure a lot of things, but it can mask other things that are problems.

Would last night's edition of the Caps beaten the Rangers in the playoffs last year?  Hard to say.  I ask this because the Rangers were considered by many (including yours truly) to be a Cup contender.  And the Caps have been far from the world beaters they made themselves out to be in years past.

The scoresheet doesn't tell the whole story.  But it does say one thing loud and clear--the best players still have to be the best players night after night.  Which means that they can't afford to have Ovechkin go into an inexplicable funk.  Or Backstrom struggle with inconsistencies.  Or Green battle injuries.  Many things can go wrong with most teams and they somehow get through it, but this team often tries to work through their problems without too many positive results.

Nick Baclstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Braden Holtby were the heroes last night.  But they can't be the heroes every night.  The question I'm posing is, will Caps fans be okay with that?  Because as this team finally comes together, they will need to rely on each other more.  Or they won't amount to much in the future, let alone this season.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Taking Chances a Must for a Win Tonight

The surging Washington Capitals have hitched their fortunes to their stellar power play.  Their play with the man advantage has been impressive all season, but has recently shifted into overdrive, climbing to the top of the NHL in efficiency.  But as has always been the case, you have to get there through your 5-on-5 play.  As they drop the puck tonight in their match against the Rangers, one stat will be key--scoring chances.

Simply put, the Caps have to take it to the net.  Even if they do not manage to get a shot off, they have to make life miserable for the Rangers' defensive corps.  Especially now that their anchor, Mark Staal, will be out indefinitely.  Scoring chances when taken to the extreme not only lead to possible goals while at even strength, they also lead to power play chances.  And thus completes the cycle.

So my point to the net with consistency, and, as long as the refs have their glasses on when the Rangers resort to fouling, the Caps will be able to cash in.  Watch tonight and see if the game proves me right or wrong.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

ReCap 3/9 vs NY Islanders

I swear by all that is holy....and all that is UNholy as well....I have run out of words to express my frustration with this hockey team that is masquerading like a group of professionals.

I think this will bring it home quite handily.

What's even more frustrating is that it is so freaking obvious to EVERYBODY what the problem is.  And that's a complete lack of focus.  No focus equals no consistency.  Which is why the Washington Capitals cannot put together more than 2-3 good games in a group without completely regressing like a mental patient devoid of their medication.

I don't even have to bother going over what happened in the game.  All it took was one careless (actually two if you think about it) penalty by Mike Ribiero, who got whistled for a double minor (four minutes) for high-sticking.  And the Caps had about a minute to go to kill it off, but then allowed the Islanders to score.  They never looked back after that.  I will give the future Brooklanders credit--they are a team to be reckoned with this season as they do have a very real chance of making the playoffs for once.

No discipline.  No focus.  No chance.

Add to this the fact that the defense corps was even further reduced for Lord knows how long after John Erskine's injury forced him from the game.  They're already environmentally unfriendly (no Green), now they're down to John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Tom Poti, two rookies, and Jeff Schultz.  We are at the halfway point in the season and they're nowhere near consistent enough to make a run at the playoffs. Doesn't take an expert to know the odds of the Caps surviving this are pretty slim.

I have something else about all this that frustrates me, only it wasn't the team's fault.  Or it wasn't the players at least.  Just before the time of the aforementioned losing goal, I found myself on the road as I often do. Naturally I was expecting to hear John Walton's dulcet tones calling the game on 1500 AM AKA Federal News Radio.  But no.  They thought it was more important to cover a (YUCK!) college basketball game.  All right well it's called the Capitals Radio Network for a reason--there are other stations I can turn to.  So I flip over to 1300 AM.  Same frickin' basketball.  It's March and it's madness all right.

Given my limited options as I live closer to Baltimore, I only had one option left--106.7 FM.  The signal lasted just long enough for me to enjoy hearing about the four-minute penalty and subsequent goal given up.  At that point MIX 106.5 had completely bled onto the broadcast.  All I could hear after that was Justin Timberlake...or was it Justin Bieber?  In any case I found it just incredible that it was so freaking hard to find a decent signal station to hear the Caps game.  But then, the radio audience has always been crapped on by this organization.

In any case it was cause for more screaming.

And unfortunately I think we Caps fans are in for a lot more of that. Unless they can find their focus.  But with 24 games to go and the playoff window closing faster it's not looking good.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

ReCap 3/6 vs. Boston

Seems like old times, eh? Exciting game, one goal differential, physical play, and of course an overtime game winning goal. End result the same--a Caps' win. Only it sure didn't look like it was going to happen at first.

Tuesday night's win against the Bruins seemed to be yet another one of those times where you'd think the Caps have turned the corner. They may well have, but falling behind 3-0 like they did isn't the way to prove it. But to quote Jiggs McDonald, still the Caps were capable of a comeback, and they did. Personally though, I would feel better about this team had they not fallen behind the way they did in the first place.

Dopey penalties, lazy play, and somewhat suspect goaltending. It looked as though the Caps from earlier this season were back to stay. But in the end, as so many members of the team would mention in their respective post game statements, they stuck to the system and kept playing their game.

A word or two about Alex Ovechkin. When he is good, he's very good. Sometimes. When he is bad, well.... Let's just say that he needs to start keeping his stick to himself. At least when Brad Marchand is around. That and the Verizon Center ice crew may want to start reinforcing the anchors that hold the nets in place. That and whatever the penalty timekeeper used to give Alex Semin he should now give to Ovechkin. But he at least was a factor in the crucial first goal that began the comeback. He corralled a point shot from rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy and whipped it to an open Mike Ribiero who put it away.

Braden Holtby. A name that normally inspires images of stellar goaltending. Sometimes anyway. He bounced back from a wobbly first period and played shutout hockey for over 40 minutes. This means he hasn't allowed a goal in five of the last six periods he's played. But when the margin of error is so thin, you can't afford a near meltdown and that's what he narrowly avoided. Maybe he could have had that penalty shot. Or Dougie Hamilton's power play marker. Regardless, the Caps need just a bit more consistency from their current number one goalie. Maybe I'm being harsh, but again...the margin of error is razor thin right now.

Nick Backstrom made not have made the three stars but he probably played his best game of the year, winning key draws and creating lots of scoring chances in the last two periods.

Lest we forget Eric Fehr. Yes I said bringing him back was a joke. But he sure is making George McPhee look like a genius for bringing him back. Not only does he score goals, he scores the crucial goals.  Which is something Alex Ovechkin used to do once upon a time.  His game winner was something that legends are made of; that kind of drive to the net is the kind of tenacity this team badly needs right now.

Barry Srvluga wrote an article in today's Washington Post, the premise of which is that the Caps are going to have to rely on the current roster to dig them out of the hole they are still in.  And reading the article over it can be implied that their ability to do so seems at  best questionable.  I would like to point out however several things--for every missing Mike Green there is indeed a John Carlson.  For every missed game by Dmitry Orlov there is Tomas Kundratek.  No Brooks Laich?  No problem, Joel Ward is doing just fine, thank you.  And yes, Nicklas Backstrom is indeed starting to get his game back--he was the one who set up Fehr's game winner. He may only have 2 goals so far this season but is also tied with Mike Ribiero for the team lead in assists.

I said before that the team is playing better because they have bought into the system--different players stepping up is yet another sign.

To all that, if you add just a bit more consistency from Braden Holtby (might be time to consider sitting him down for a game), and a LOT more on the defensive side of the puck from the Captain, this team just might have something.  There is just barely enough time for this team to at least make things interesting.  And we all know they will--for better or for worse.