The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.
I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)
Though we often take shots at NBC coverage of Caps games, it’s playful ribbing of a shared suffering that all hockey fans endure sometimes. We are fully aware that there are worse fates, like being stuck watching on NESN with Jack Edwards commenting.
While Bruins fans seem to like him well enough, that’s not as much the case among fans of other teams, or those who value commentating that reflects what is actually happening on the ice. Case in point: Edwards’ radio appearance with WEEI after Game 3, wherein he describes a game and a series clearly occupying a reality separate from our own.
10:23 p.m. was not a good time for the Washington Capitals on Monday. That’s when the clock hit zero, putting the Caps down 2-1 in their best of seven quarterfinal matchup with the Bruins. But it was also what happened after the whistle that could haunt the team’s postseason chances.
As the final seconds ticked off and the Caps dropped the game 4-3, Boston’s Rich Peverley and Alex Ovechkin got into a scuffle. Coming to the aid of his buddy, Nicklas Backstrom delivered a cross-check up high on the Bruins forward. That’s when the inconsistent officiating of this series — and these playoffs as a whole — once again reared its head. For his infraction — the third called against him in the game — Backstrom was assessed a match penalty.
We almost feel like we’re watching some kind of bizarre social experiment in this series, as we observe Bruins forward Milan Lucic‘s temper simmer, simmer, and boil over more and more frequently as his line continues to be rather ineffective versus the Caps. These bursts of temper saw Lucic collecting 8 PIMs by the end of the night, though– puzzlingly- the refs seemed to think that it was always necessary to tack a Washington penalty on top, perhaps so Lucic wouldn’t get so lonely in the box. The refs have seen this behavior — he’s acting out for attention– and should know better.
Game Three: The Washington Capitals treated the Boston Bruins to a quiet night of conversation and sport. And then all these damn rowdy Caps fans showed up and spoiled what could have been a pleasant night. It was ugly, it was loose, it was the opposite of those first two games, and it ended tragically.
With Brooks Laich screening up front, Alex Semin converted a first period penalty play while Chara was in the box. Rich Peverly tied it up, but who cares because Alex Ovechkin scored 13 seconds later. Daniel Paille was left all alone in front of Holtby, tying the game at two. Brian Rolston exploited some bad Caps D early in the third and gave the Bruins their first lead of the night. Nick Backstom set Brooks Laich loose for a breakaway to beat Tim Thomas and tie it with six minutes left.
On a late-game 4-on-4, Zdeno Chara’s slapshot caught a little bit of Hamrlik and got past Holtby. Bruins beat Caps 4-3.
We were flanked in our effort to psyche out Timmy by our friends at Sick Unbelievable, Brooks Laichyear, and Homer McFanboy. Whatever you make of the political dimension of the campaign or its impact on the game, at least we got to see how tight this Caps fan community is. It’s large-scale silliness and public mayhem for a good cause.
We’ve got all kinds of meta-coverage below the jump, so please follow along.
After the first two games of the quarterfinal round, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is sporting a .964 save percentage, having stopped 54 of the 56 shots he has faced. Last season’s Vezina and Conn Smythe winner, Thomas has already had a successful follow-up campaign, earning a 35-19-1 record during the regular season. He is the calm core of Boston’s defense and a reliable presence to backstop the league’s third best offense.
The Geography of Bad: Let’s just put a few things on the table. Some cities are horrible because of where they are. Tampa comes to mind. Not quite poor enough to be swamp trash, not quite rich enough to be coastal, it’s the worst of Florida compressed into one atomically fetid spot. Or take Winnipeg. God help anyone who has to go to Winnipeg.
Other places aren’t so much insufferable because of where they are, but because of who lives there. Philadelphia, for example, where entire generations have refined the art of being over-privileged and grating. Dallas, which is just about all we need to say about that hole. Or pretty much the entire state of Arizona.
That said, there’s a whole special category of wretched for cities that, were the Lord truly merciful, He would just dump into the ocean and pretend it never happened. Can you guess which blighted dung pile is featured in this week’s list of awful?