Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crushed By the Orange


I'm risking ruining my reputation as a (somewhat) level-headed, (kinda) even-keeled, unbiased (...ish) fan to make the following statement - but it needs to be said.

I hate the Flyers.

It's official. My unmitigated hatred for the orange and black is quickly returning to the level of contempt which at one time was only reserved for their Pennsylvania neighbors. I hate everything about them. I hate their retina-burning uniforms and their goonish history and their need to see blood spilled, from either team, every minute of every day.

Briere, Richards, Hartnell? No one here thinks you're cute, talented or tough. Biron? No one here thinks you're quirky. 'Vengeance Now'? More like 'Goons Forever'.

Yes, I'm mad. All Caps fans should be mad. This is not the series we were promised, not after the run this Caps team put together to get into the playoffs in the first place. You can make the claim that the Flyers got into the playoffs the same way, scrapping for points...but it wasn't the same way. The Flyers did not claw their way up from the league basement. In fact, at one point Philly was on top of the Atlantic Division and only fell after prolonged stretches of ineptitude throughout the season.

After the season we've had, after all the ups and downs, the coaching changes and goaltender changes and new faces and trades and signings and adjustments and standings climbing...we deserve something amazing, whether it's as a parting gift to cap off the season or just the beginning of a long postseason run.

If the Caps lose, they lose - this series was never supposed to be a home run. Give Philly credit, they've played a heck of a series so far, and no one expected a sweep by the Caps, an easy four games and a long rest. We're not playing Ottawa, after all (and a big ol' thanks to Pittsburgh again for that one). This series should be epic and tough.

If the Caps lose, though, they'd better go down swinging.

Tonight was better than Sunday. Of course it was better. But saying that tonight's performance was better than Sunday's is like saying Briere is taller on skates. True, but relative. Tonight the Caps should have come out flying; everything they've said in the last two days made us think they would. They were angry, they said. They were frustrated, they told us. They made mistakes and paid for it and that had to change, they swore. No one worked hard enough; everyone would have to work harder. That's what they said, and what we believed.

But it was the Flyers who took control early and even as the Caps mustered little flurries of energy and closed the gap the Flyers pulled further ahead. The Flyers ran over Huet time and time again without retribution, and then were pushed into him time and time again by hapless defenders who didn't know what else to do. The Caps continued to make ill-advised long passes resulting in turnovers, continued to sputter on the power play (despite finally getting one with the extra man), continued to look star-struck and stunned - as if they'd completely forgotten how to play hockey just because they were doing it after April 5.

It wasn't pretty. In fact, backdropped by the sea of happy orange it was downright ugly. And because of that they have to go back to the drawing board.

You want an easy scapegoat, take Erskine (please). Take Jurcina with his boneheaded turnover. Take Ovechkin, who has yet to show up with the presence we've become used to. But barring any of those, chalk this up to a good old-fashioned, all hands on deck team loss from start to finish.

If I'm the coach it may be time to think about putting in Olie for at least a game - not because Huet was bad, because once again he was one of the better performers out there (although I haven't seen a goal by goal breakdown so I could be wrong). It should be done because the guys need a wakeup call and Huet needs a rest. Poor Cristobal has had to take care of himself for three games now and has played 11 straight and the frustration is showing; rest him and put Zilla in to throw some punches, whack some ankles and yell at the boys. They need it. It's time.

And if I'm the coach it's DEFINITELY time to sit Erskine and put Eminger back in. Of course if Schultz reinjured himself that may be tricky but hell, no one said the playoffs were easy. Call up Lepisto or Boumedienne if that's what it takes. It's just mind-boggling that big #4 is still in there after taking dumb penalties and continuing to be on the ice staring blankly at Huet as the puck goes into the net. If he's in there to add toughness, great, but I haven't seen him do all that much to prove that he deserves a spot in the lineup just for that. Yank him. Free Steve Eminger. It's time.

And if I'm the coach...it's time to find a way to ignite this team, light a spark under their collective rear ends. This isn't playtime anymore and the team that once believed they couldn't lose has not only lost twice in a row but been outplayed for 8 of their first 9 playoff periods.

Being down 2-1 is doable; the series is far from over and the Caps can still salvage home ice advantage. Being down 3-1? You might as well call it a night, even with memories of 1988 fresh in our minds.

It's time for the average joes to become heroes...and the superstars to become superheroes. It's time for this team to show up.

10 comments:

Jed said...

I hate the flyers too! I'd like to see them driving the net that way with olie in there...

I think I'd sit Jurcina over Erskine, he was directly responsible for one goal, he almost helped out with a couple more, and I didn't really notice him throwing any of his normal big hits. I really think he was the weakest D on the ice tonight.

Elly said...

I hate everything about them. I hate their retina-burning uniforms and their goonish history and their need to see blood spilled, from either team, every minute of every day.

Welcome to being a Pens fan.

Sadly, while I have tried to watch all the Caps/Flyers game, I missed the last one and passed out (thank you, flu bug) during the previous one on Sunday half way...but I'm almost glad I lost consciousness during Sunday's 'game'. I was shocked to see the Flyers completely disrupting the Caps at every pass, every check. As you said, there's still time to turn things around, though. Everyone needs a bit of drama....right?

Anonymous said...

Kolzig, Kolzig, Kolzig!

Steve (in Fairfax) said...

I could not agree more! If the Flyers want to brawl, we certainly can brawl, but I think we have more skill players than they do.

We need to complete passes. I have never seen so many passes go behind their intended target or simply get picked off. We are better than that. Simplify. We started to dump and chase in the third and it was working. We just ran out of time.

Huet is not playing up to his capabilities. He may be tired. I believe Ollie would have had some of those saves.

Where is Kozlov?

Of course it is easy for me to say things like this. Steve's checklist to become a Hockey Player:

1. Learn to skate.
2. See 1.

Phae said...

Bring back Olie! I want to see him throw a few punches. And who knows, he could seriously ignite the fire this team needs under them!

John said...

I agree, if this is the final curtain for an absolutely unprecedented, unpredictable run in franchise history for the Caps, then let's go all out. They have spent 3 games roughing up our goalie, I think it's time to push back. Seems like Brash has been held on a leash this whole time. You know he can't sit there and watch the goalie getting pushed around by these guys.

So why not? Go for broke? Noone expected there to be a post-season. This is post-season play and after 'really' watching it for the first time, it's much much tougher and faster. Our boys have had 3 games to learn this hard lesson...time to change tactics and push back.

CapsChick said...

Jed, if I could sit both I would...however, even with that dumbass play I still feel better with Jurcina wandering around than Erskine. He can at least skate at a semi-normal speed.

Welcome to being a Pens fan.
Well, to be fair Elly, I always had that hatred for the Flyers ;) It just was lying dormant after seeing them so humbled last year. And you didn't miss anything on Sunday - I was there and I almost lost consciousness!!

To everyone else...agreed. Olie needs to be in net but I don't think it's going to happen, at least not yet. The toughness (or lack thereof) is a HUGE factor for this team. They're hitting but the hits aren't timely, they're not bone-crushing, they're not sending a message of any kind. And when Huet is getting run over by the magical spearing midget and STILL gets no help, you know there's something not getting through there. Unleash the Brash.

Elly said...

CC: Lol! But was it the burning hatred that makes you ill to see orange and black? Makes you want to grit and gnash your teeth? Clench your fists and have a sailor mouth? Make you....well, you get my idea. ;)

Anonymous said...

IM SORRY....WHAT GAME ARE YOU GUYS WATCHING. DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOCKEY? HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER PLAYED HOCKED BEFORE.. BY THE WAY..I DO RECALL CAPS GETTING CALLED FOR GOALIE INTERFERENCE..NOT FLYERS.

~CLEAR THROAT~
1 CAPS WENT ON THEIR "RUN" TO GET INTO THE PLAYOFFS AGAINST TEAMS THAT WERE NOT MAKING THE PLAYOFFS

2 THAT IS WHAT PLAYOFF HOCKEY IS ALL ABOUT. CRASH THE NET AND GET THE GARBAGE GOAL. SORRY...

WEIRD THING IS I THINK THAT CAPS HAVE ENOUGH TO MAKE A SERIER OUT OF IT.. BUT YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THIS WAS ALMOST A SWEEP..I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU ASSUME THAT CAPATIALS DESERVE ANYTHING MORE.

CapsChick said...

Oh, anonymous...I can always count on you to show up and bring some "perspective" (and thanks so much for clearing your throat before yelling at all of us - big help).

Shall we take this point by point? Yes, everyone who has commented here as well as myself has watched hockey before, and many of them have played hockey as well.

Whether or not those teams were in the playoffs is irrelevant - any team can beat any team at any time. How do I know this? Because when the Flyers went on their 10 GAME losing streak (a number the Caps never hit despite playing in the "weakest division") they were beaten by Tampa, Florida, Ottawa, and Toronto...twice in a row. Does that make them any less of a worthy playoff opponent?

The fact that the Caps got called for goalie interference in that 3rd game and again last night is exactly why we're upset - neither call was as blatant as some of the stuff the Flyers have been pulling. That's fine, it's playoffs, running the goalie is part of the game I guess...but call it evenly or don't call it at all. And "crashing the net and getting the garbage goal" is PART of playoff hockey - but it's not all of it and it's not what makes it good.

As for the Caps having enough to make a series of it - I agree. In fact had the Caps shown up in the first three games the way they did in game 4 and really all season long, they would not only make a series of it...they would win the series. And THAT'S why the Capitals deserve more than what they're getting.

Thanks for stopping by!