Monday, January 15, 2007

After some time to reflect (and lick the wounds)

I've written several times before on how the Capitals are a young, inexperienced team and that fans need to adjust their expectations accordingly. As I said in my January 1st post,

"What lies ahead for the Capitals this year seems apparent. They will work their butts off to win a lot of games they wouldn't take on talent alone. They will lose some heartbreaking games they should win."

At the same time, what happened against Florida was nothing short of a disgrace. I'm willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt, but getting absolutely crushed by a team that's near last in the league is completely and totally unacceptable. Not showing up for a game is completely and totally unacceptable. If I were Coach Hanlon, there would be no pucks in practice for the next few days. Just lots and lots of hard skating, a la Herb Brooks after Team USA's pre-Olympic tie with Norway.

There are two trends the Caps absolutely need to buck if they want to make a serious run at the playoffs. The first is their current inability to bring home points on the road. 0-5 on the last road trip (I know it was a murderous schedule, but is an OT loss too much to ask for?). 0-2 to start this one, with both losses coming against Southeast Division opponents that were below us in the standings. If they continue to throw points away like this, they'll be able to make tee time reservations well before the end of the season.

Maybe Hanlon needs to pack some Teddy Bears for these guys to make them feel like they're at home. On second thought, probably not. They've been playing soft enough on the road as it is.

The second issue that needs to be addressed is their constantly being outshot by other teams. In the past few games they've been outshot by a large margin by two of the worst teams in the league (Florida and Philly). They need to pressure forwards in their own zone more, and make more plays at goal in their opponents territory. Now I know Caps teams have forever been known for their cycling down low in the attacking zone, but at some point they need to get pucks at the net. Even weak shots on goal can yield rebounds, deflections, and other scoring chances.

Next game is Tuesday against the Ottawa Roman lookalikes. At least we know the boys won't be spending too much of their time at the beach before that one.


Capital Fanatic said...

They need to focus on what they were known for, outworking their opponents. Once this happens everything else will fall in line.

3 Grumpy Caps fans said...

I'm as much a believer in hard work on the ice as anyone (hence my distaste for guys like Jagr) but I think that there has to be an underlying strategy to go along with it. And I think that there has to be a conscious effort to get more pucks on net as well as outwork their opponent.