Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Here We Go...

As the decongestants wear off and the sadness from this weekend's back to back heartbreakers fades away it's time to look at the rest of the season with a cool, calm and realistic eye.

No, the Caps aren't out of the playoff race just yet. From here on out, though, it's even more of an uphill climb that will take a combination of Caps wins, help from other teams, and general good luck to get this team into the postseason.

...not exactly a trio that has graced our presence in the past, is it?

Still, it's important to remember two things. One, the Caps don't seem to be calling it quits just yet and until they're further out of it we may not want to either; you just never know what can happen down the stretch. And two, we've said since the beginning of the year that as long as this team stays in the hunt right up until the final day we can consider this season a success, and I think that still holds true.

Playoffs would be great. We love the postseason here in the Cheap Seats. Big fans. However, after three years of sub-70 point seasons and fire sales and embarrassing blowout losses, there is something so sweet about what has transpired these past few months, and I don't think anyone will go into the spring and summer with anything less than heads held high. If we make it, we make it; if not, this team will be ready to set the East on fire next year, I have no doubt.

So the Caps play host to the red hot Calgary Flames tonight, a team fighting for their own playoff lives and boasting a young core of talent in their own right. But despite losing two straight, the Caps are also a team that could be called hot. How, you ask? Well, Saturday and Sunday's games should be considered wins until the final minutes; the points may not show up but the effort, the skill and the solid play overall in each of them are exactly what the Caps will need to carry into this final run of games.

So here's what we have left:

- Two more games against each of the division rivals, culminating in the home and season closer against the Florida Panthers
- A final payback game against the Bruins
- The last two Central Division teams, Nashville and Chicago

...and that's it. That's all she wrote. Not an easy chunk of games by any stretch of the imagination but nothing this team can't handle. The way they've played these last two weeks, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Caps pick up 8, 9, or even 10 wins. They'll have to if they have any hope of moving on.

Lots of hockey going on tonight, lots happening last night, lots to discuss in the coming weeks. For now:

- Montreal shut out the Devils to reclaim the Eastern Conference lead. Habs fan or not, admit it - it's always fun to see New Jersey get shut out, isn't it? By the way, that Carey Price kid might have a future in the NHL...

- Toronto became both our worst enemy and our best friend as they beat the Flyers last night - in overtime. Thanks, Leafs. They're now tied with us and Florida, although the Caps have a game in hand on both, and they prevent Philly from getting too far ahead (79 points). This time of year is so tricky for standings-watchers.

- Amazingly enough the Lightning blew away the Islanders big time, lighting up DiPietro for an 8-4 final. Former Cap Jeff Halpern picked up a goal and two assists for his new team, giving him four goals and five assists since joining the Bolts in a trade that has worked out surprisingly well for both sides.

- Out west the Oilers forced overtime...and didn't go to a shootout. They were five seconds away from yet another gimmicky game when Cogliano scored to win it for Edmonton. Simply amazing.

Here's what is on the menu tonight - first up, Toronto and Philly clash again. Go...Leafs? The Blackhawks need to prove they love us with a win over the Canes. Florida and the Isles go head to head in a battle of who cares (drink your coffee for that one).

And here's the worst one - Pens-Sabres. Folks, this is going to hurt, but we want Pittsburgh to win. I know, I know, walk it off, take a deep breath, close your eyes and think of England.

It'll all be over soon.

On a personal note, I'm sending out a special thanks to all of you for all the kind get-well wishes and notes I got in the past few days - I'm feeling much better, kids!


Victor said...

You don't want Pittsburgh to win; you want the Sabres to lose. Big difference, and that little bit of semantics will help keep the nasty taste out of your mouth.

HG said...

Goooooooooooo FLAMES! :D

Chris & Sarah said...

I'll only cheer for the Pens if they credit Nick with any goals Puffy Lips scores tonight.

Chris & Sarah said...

Glad to hear you are on the mend as well.

More than we can say for Sid. Looks like he's sitting out with a sore tootsie. Pooor Bebe.