“If you get down and quarrel everyday, you’re saying prayers to the devil, I say.” - Bob Marley, 1977.
The Caps, I sense (with my wee fey antennae) are quarreling with themselves. And it’s not good.
Last season we saw a command from on high to shift the squad to a different balance of offense/defense play on ice, and the turmoil that resulted. That was Bruce. This is Dale. And now one begins to sense a new struggle to shift the team’s fight/play ratio. A struggle I again – one of the PuckBuddys who anticipated this Friday’s FBI Freakout with Anonymous, but we’re not bringing that up – fear is not going to go well. (#AnonOps knows to kiss our ass; we dare you to mess with the Russian hockey mafia.) (haha Ian, good luck!)
Are the Caps a quarrelin’, fightin’ team? Depends what sort of fight. By measure of comebacks from 1st period losses, we’re champs. By measure of fists on faces, we rank lower in the bottom 50% of the NHL. At the top of that list is Boston; at the bottom is Detroit. I know which team I’d rather be. Which fight I’d rather have. The Caps now face the same question: what, exactly, kind of team are we?
The Puck Drop
“In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.” Bob Marley, 1976.
Fighting, skating, blocking shots and, most important, playing all-out: none of these exclude a pugnacious play. But look, people; everything is budget. You have X minutes of hard back-check play; it’s going to come out of a certain bank account. Other players on the ice: maybe they’re defense czars and can turn lead into gold. But no alchemist can got off scott-free.
The point: I sense the Capitals have the raw minerals to mine and forge a most mighty play…but that is a total team effort. Nicky, Greenie – and we’re sorry to say again or perhaps forever, Poti – they’re out. Key holes on O and D. But still: we’ve seen O and D step up heartily of late. With a focused play, we can move pucks into their blue zone and on net. Easy said. But some physical things are easy done, if you just share the same focus.
We have the deep pool of talent to weld this team together. It’s not just coming from Lords-On-High decries, or coaching staff moods. If you’re going to forge a sword, you begin with your ingredients. Ours
Washington Capitals: please consider your ingredients. You have an abundance of quality; a deep pool of quality. Our ingredients aren’t Hunter-style fighters (except, um…you know who) because our ore is tempered different; more sizzle than slash. Mixed together appropriately, they will slake your thirst, and make a most unbreakable sword. Otherwise…
“When the race gets hard to run. It means you just can’t take the pace.” - Bob Marley, 1979.
Today we’re not offering the same list of hockey-stat bleaugh you’ve seen and read and regurgitated before. We’ve all seen our previous battle with the Habs, and our last two games of three on the road. No one serious needs reminding of this.
All you need to know about the Habs is that PK Subban is nasty, Scott Gomez‘s last goal is two days away from its birthday, and team is tied for DFL in the East.
It’s this simple. Capitals: no more motivation problems. Replace that with this. “This”, as in the singular view of your coach, becoming the stick you will chase. Chase, catch, and break. The shot-gun, snipe from the center, audacious play we remember. “That” is the calculated, sterile play that keeps you in your own zone, offering spittle as shots-on-goal, and open invitations to opponents to crash our net. Without “this” you are just a bunch of incredibly talented athletes circling around on the ice for an hour while the rest of us eat, cheer, drink, boo and fall asleep. That’s what “that” is.
Journalists – the corpulent ones – like to tag particular games as “defining moments.” This game is not a defining moment. (Arguably the last game was, but that’s a matter for statisticians to parse.) But this game can be a moment to define what kind of team we are, and how we run this last half of the race.
“Wake Up and Live!” – Bob Marley.
We’re not at all clear why we landed on Mr. Marley as a muse tonight. You may speculate at your leisure.
We’ve seen the Habs once before (3-o) this season; tonight marks 2 of 4. They are not a team that has key determining factors of whether we get to the playoffs, but they are the Habs. And every win represents points we desperately need. CAPS: Wake Up and Live!
Habs 2, Caps 4.
Meme of the Night