Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Optimist or Idiot?

Personally I'd like to think I'm a little of both...

In the wake of the latest loss for the Caps yesterday, the local media has released their requisite doom and gloom articles. Everyone is frustrated - fans, reporters, players and coaches. And everyone should be frustrated. This team may not have the big name talent but it does have talent and any extended stretch of losing is and should be unacceptable to everyone involved.

Now having said that, I feel it is my duty as the resident optimist/idiot to bring the sunshine, hand out the rose-colored glasses, pour the kool-aid, find that elusive silver lining...before people (myself included) start hurling themselves off the roof or worse, stop coming to games.

It may look bad now, but we have to remember this is a rebuilding year and things like this are going to happen. Yes, the Caps seem to be ahead of schedule in their evolution. Yes, they've pulled off some impressive wins and hung in there with teams that last year would have routed them. But I think we all got ahead of ourselves a bit during that 7-1-1 stretch - to expect this team to complete the season without some of these little bumps in the road would be unrealistic.

Having a game every year on January 1 gives me a nice reference point to compare season results to this point...so let's just look at where we are and where we've been:

- As of January 1, the Caps are 16-17-7 through 40 games for a total of 39 points. This same time last year, their record was 13-21-3 through 37 games for just 29 points. Fewer regulation losses and more losses in OT or a shootout means the Caps are staying in games longer and as a result are earning more points.

- After 14 games against Southeast Division rivals last year, the Caps were 4-9-1...and all 4 wins came in overtime, giving the other team a point just for showing up. The Caps have played 13 games against division rivals so far this year and are 5-6-2, with only one win coming in overtime.

- The Caps have a road record of 8-7-4 so far this year. By January 1 last year, the Caps had played 17 games away from DC and had won a grand total of...4. Only one of the 13 losses came in overtime.

- The Caps had played almost half the season without winning more than 2 games in a row, a feat they would accomplish later in January. This year they had a 4-game winning streak in late November and early December

- Alex Ovechkin had 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points this time last year. He is currently in a 4-game goal drought yet remains ahead of last year's pace, with 25 goals and 26 assists for 51 points. He is tied for first in goals scored so far this season and is 5th overall in total points.

- Last year Dainius Zubrus had 8 goals and 9 assists by January 1; Zubie now has 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points, well above the pace he set in his career year last season.

- Matt Pettinger had 8 goals and 7 assists by New Year's last year. He's already at 10 goals and 8 assists, for this season, and that's after missing the first 8 games of the season.

- After a slow start to this season, Brooks Laich now has 4 goals and 3 assists - that's only slightly ahead of his pace from last year when he had 3 goals and 3 assists. However, 2 of his goals have come shorthanded, tying him with Chris Clark for the team lead, and all of his points have come over the last 16 games.

- Last season Chris Clark had 8 goals and 6 assists through January 1. This year those numbers have almost doubled, with the new captain connecting for 14 goals and 14 assists - that's even better than his totals from the second half of last season, when he was added to the top line and earned 12 goals and 13 assists over the rest of the year.

See? Things may look gloomy right now, but you can see the improvement over last year, and that's a good sign.

Hang in there, kids!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

so I'm a little late on the draw. . .spent most of yesterday recovering!!! but the site looks great! who knew you were such a computer geek! jeff is very proud! :)