The Pregame: Well, hello you! Pollyanna Sunshine, reporting for duty! And here’s my colleague, Peppy Miller! Rah Team!
OK, glum-dums. Tides have a way of turning. Or so Barbara Streisand tells me. Sure, watching the Capitals this season has been exactly like watching the tides rush in and out, depositing a fresh crop of flotsam and hope on the shore at high tide before sucking it all back out to sea, leaving behind dead jellyfish and despair. But…
Bring Out The Zamboni
Let’s be clear. We are not going into excuse mode, which seems to be the default for senior Caps management (despite Ted’s “Unacceptable” post, pssh.) There’s a wide gap between losing after playing hard, and just acting like losers. Monday night was an impeachable offense. Of course, we’re pointing out the merely gape-mouthed obvious here because, well, it makes us feel a little superior. That, and there appears to be a “merely obvious gap” at Kettler these days.
Shall we go on? Oh lets. Bruce Boudreau was not the problem. Dale Hunter has not been the solution. Yanking Tomas Vokoun did not change momentum. Alex Ovechkin is not going to be replaced as Captain. The 2012 Presidential election will be dreadful. Ryan Kesler needs a boyfriend. Don’t make us continue, because we will.
And yet -because what’s an argument with a yet – we still believe this can be done. We can make it to the Holy Land in April. We just have to do one thing: start acting like the team we’re haven’t proven ourselves to be so far.
Ummm…yeah. And here’s how we start. We down the Senators Wednesday night by doing a few things, and then we keep on doing those things.
Yes, this is what it’s come to. Teh PuckBuddys are giving ice advice. Suck it up.
The Puck Drop
Oh, Them:The Senators have been Caps-like this season, just in slower motion. We’re on one game, off the next. The Sens; it’s more like on 8 games, off the next 10. Result, and trust me this is something I never thought I would be writing, ever, the Senators (31-22-8) are ahead of the Capitals 29-25-5) in conference standings. Much of the credit goes to four jokers; three we’ve previously mentioned. Erik Karlsson (or Karl Karlsson) at 12G/45A, plus-14 has totally stepped up his game of late, Milan Michalek (25G/14, minus-2) continues being a threat, and some fossil named Alffrreddssonn (20G/24A, plus-9 and ancient.) Bottle them up.
- Don’t Spezza Out: But Jason Spezza, at an astounding 27G/38A, plus-6, is prince of the Senators of late. Late’s an appropriate word, as Spezza has long promised more than he delivered. Why is he firing of late? In part because the entire Sens squad is playing open: moving the puck fast and loose, and earning its wins on the talents of a few hot players (Spezzatini has 14 points in 5 games, the jerk.) Loose is unlike a lot of squads these days, and disciplined is how they come down. Leading to:
- Hey, We Like Playing Ottawa: Loose means at both ends. Sure, they got a shut out against the Islanders (snicker) but we, and others have a way of getting lots of pucks in their nets. That, and a free-flying offense probably leaves them weaker at the D-end, which points the way to how we win this game. Besides, we’re 3-0 so far against the Senators, so we’ve got some number of theirs figured out. (And how delicious is it that Washington is eating Senators? Oh, Howell Heflin, where are you now that we need you?)
- Smells Like Team Spirit: I am likely an idiot when it comes to sophisticated NHL strategems. But even this idiot knows not to disspirit a team. We have not been playing like a team, I think (ahem) exactly because we’re not being coached and governed like a team. It’s a bit intangible, but every game-day move, line-shift and healthy scratch I see appears more about individuals than team. Wanna win? Be a team that wins. And that means fostering that team spirit – coaches.
Enough yippity-yap. Capitals pull it out. Capitals move pucks to goal. Capitals keep it on Offense and go up by 2 at the end of the third.
Why so bold? Because if we can’t do this – if we can’t defeat the squad we’ve already defeated three times – then we’re not a team. Meaning: it’s time for a major gut job.
Sports don’t come down to one game, until they do. Just ask Coach Boudreau. This is a game that matters muchly.