Aww (Photo credit: our own Chris Gordon)
The quintessential 2010-2011 Washington Capitals game includes a worthless first period, so the opening frame of tonight’s date with the Montreal Canadiens was surprisingly invigorating. If only the rest of the game could have followed suit.
Mathieu Perreault capped off an extended shift in the offensive zone with a takeaway and five-hole goal on Carey Price. On the powerplay, Mike Knuble filed some paperwork in his office to give the Caps an early and pleasant 2-0 lead. In the second period, Brian Gionta launched a rocket on a 2-on-1 breakaway to put the Habs on the board. Then John Carlson’s failed drop pass led to another breakaway and another goal for Gionta. OT was exciting but scoreless, and we found our way to that old standby: the shootout.
Nick Backstrom led off, beating Carey Price but ringing iron. Brian Gionta, the bastard, scored top-shelf on Varlamov. Matt Hendricks pulled that same darn move again, but Price saw it coming. James Wisniewski’s attempt was covered by Varly. Alex Ovechkin, in a must-score situation, didn’t. Game over. Habs beat Caps 3-2 (SO).
So I have a new rule. If the Caps can’t put 10 pucks on net in each period, we’re not allowed to make excuses for them. The Caps went 9, 6, and 9 tonight. No effort means no excuses.
These recaps are tedious. No one wants to relive an agonizing loss, and I don’t want to play the sanctimonious dilettante firing missives from his couch. It’s so much more fun to watch a win, to write about a win, and to read about a win. I know it’s gotta be the same for the players. If they were winning, they’d be having more fun, and if they were having fun they’d also be winning. Sounds stupid, right?
But here’s a radical idea: let’s put aside the bile for a week. You know that discussion about who’s letting you down and who’s got to go? Let’s put it on hold for a few days. It’s certainly our Gretzky-given right as fans to whine and moan about bad whistles and bad plays and bad players, but it’s not actually going to make anything better.
On my swim team in high school, we had this awful diver. He was just plain old no good. But he had the best attitude you could find in a kid. After an epic back flop and some low scores from the judges, he’d hop out of the pool with so much zest you’d think it was his birthday. And he’d do it again. So we would cheer for him like he was at the Olympics, even if it seemed a little inappropriate. Weird thing happened then: he got noticeably better over the season and ended up competing at counties, where the volume of our cheers suddenly seemed a little more appropriate.
Yeah, I’m bummed. I’m a bit angry. But February is a gauntlet laid out in front of these Caps, especially this next week: Tampa Bay on Friday, Pittsburgh on Super Bowl Sunday. So for the guys, let’s stow the bad vibes at least until it’s over. Just to see what happens.
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