Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year, Same Results

There was a time when I was calling for the removal of the second period from all Caps games.

I may have to change that to the first period after the way they've come out of the gate lately, especially given their performance in the opening twenty minutes this afternoon.

I don't understand, were they still drunk from last night? Did they all stay up like little kids to watch the ball drop then party until dawn?

I certainly hope so - some good should come from the way they played to start the game. Falling behind 3-1 in the first period...at home...to the Phoenix Coyotes. I know, I know - the 'Yotes have picked it up of late, but they're still near the bottom of the league and these are the teams the Caps need to beat, especially if they can't beat the people ahead of them in the standings.

Even in the new NHL falling behind early can be tough to climb back from. Their goalie gets some confidence, the guys in front of him get some confidence, and momentum is against you. I will give the Caps some credit, though - they really played much better in the final 2 periods. Better passing, better puck control and zone control, better setup on both the power play and the penalty kill...unfortunately it was not to be.

Games like this are frustrating - as a fan you want to believe that the previous losses were because of a razor thin lineup decimated by injury and illness. To get some of these guys back and still lose in such a disappointing fashion is a little disheartening. And now we're at 5 straight games, 5 straight losses; that's 10 possible points that could have picked the Caps up in the standings or at least helped them stay with the other teams in the race for 8th.

Bad:
- The first period again killed the Caps, as the 'Yotes scored all they would need to put the Caps away. I keep talking about that elusive 60 minute game, and I think we've only seen it once or twice this season. The good teams jump on you early and hold that lead for the entire game - the Caps are just not there yet.
- Semin can be like swiss cheese even on a good night, but he turned the puck over so many times this afternoon that I wanted to throw something at him. It's no coincidence that the games in which he plays the best are the ones where he's winning the battles along the boards, and today was not one of those days. Too many sloppy passes and not enough desire for the puck for Sasha...

Good:
- We usually have the Alex show. Today was the Brian show, as the drought mercifully ends for Pothier and Sutherby. Even from our seats in the 400s you could see the relief on both of their faces and in their body language after the goals. Pothier finally got his first goal of the season and his first as a Cap to tie the game on a very nice backhand rebound. And Sutherby - ah, Sutsy Sutsy Sutsy...it's about time. Nice shot on a 2 on 1 to earn his second of the season.
- There were some breakdowns and some miscues that caused the first period hole, but I really thought some of our d-men played better than they have in a long time. Pothier and Green in particular looked much better - clearly whatever was wrong with them was "purged" with their recent illness. (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

The Caps thankfully have two days off and are home for their next three games - Brash will be back for round 2 against the Habs, and Bradley is apparently starting to skate with the team and could also return shortly. We just have to hang in there through this rough stretch and trust that Hanlon and the boys will come through this without digging too much of a whole. There's still lots of hockey to play.

Let's look at it this way - even the Flyers snapped their losing streak...and they're, well, the Flyers.

On another note, I thought I should talk about the recent disciplinary action taken by the NHL after Saturday's game in NYC. For once, they got it right. Brash definitely earned his suspension and probably could have gotten more (although the homer in me will be glad to see him back after only one game), and Orr earned every second of that 5-game suspension - I don't think there's a gray area on that one. No one can deny that was a cheap shot to the head with clear intent to injure, and he deserves to sit.

Lastly I'm grateful that neither Morrisonn or Hanlon received any fines or suspensions for Mo's response to Orr - that was clearly not a premeditated action by the coach, nor was it a tough guy fighting just to fight. Mo doesn't drop the gloves all that often and he actually got the worst of the resulting fight. I've said it before, but he showed how much character he has that night. To stand up for a teammate when you're recovering from mono...how do you not love that as a fan?

The video, for anyone who hasn't seen it yet (with the MSG guys taking about an hour to figure out what the heck was going on):



1 comment:

Reality Check said...

No big name talent! Whaddaya call brash...er I mean, Ovechkin?

The Caps will be fine. Teams stumble. Teams recover.

Good coach, good system, good goalie, time and experience.

The recipe is all there. Just gotta shake and bake!