Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another day of the Trap, another loss

In Sunday's game against the Penguins, the Caps yet again played the neutral zone trap, putting no pressure on the Penguins defense and allowing them to carry the puck out of their own zone unhindered. And once again, the Capitals lost. They also had another game with almost no production in the offensive end. Anyone noticing a trend here?

I'm all in favor of playing defensive minded hockey when the circumstances demand it. And if the Capitals still had half their defensive lineup out with injury, I'd see some sense in playing the trap. But that's not the case. If anything, the Caps defensive roster is in the best shape it's been in since before the lockout.

Milan Jurcina has been nothing short of a revelation, proving that 1) you should ALWAYS trade with the Bruins (see Thorton, Joe and Iafrate-Juneau for further evidence) and 2) I'm a moron. The knock on the guy with the B's was that he wasn't as physical as a man with his physical attributes should be. Well, we've seen NO evidence of that here in DC, as he's been a force to be reckoned with on the blueline, consistently knocking players off the puck and playing the body like only he and Big John Erskine seem capable of doing.

Indeed, the Caps depth on defense has improved to the point that they've been able to send one of their brightest defensive prospects (Mike Green) back to Hershey to regain his confidence and offensive flair. This team is still a bit thin on D, but nowhere near as much as they have been for most of the season. With Pothier and Erskine back in the lineup, they look as good as they have in years. And while nobody is claiming the Caps still don't have a hole (or 2) to fill on the back line, they aren't in a position where they need to trap. But they do.

Because of that, their offense has absolutely no flow. For most of the season, the Capitals were able to create offense because they forechecked hard in the offensive zone, putting pressure on opposing defenses and capitalizing on their mistakes. Right now, they are sending exactly ZERO forecheckers, which has stunted their offense to the tune of 2 goals or less in 8 of their last 9 games, the only exception being their game against the putrid LA Kings. That is PATHETIC offensive production. There's a reason Ovechkin and Semin can't find their scoring grooves. It's because they're not spending enough time in the offensive zone to do so. And until the Caps stop playing the trap, it's only going to get worse.

At this point, the playoffs are out of the picture for the Capitals. A loss is a loss, whether it's 3-2 or 7-5. It makes no sense to continue to bore the fans to sleep and continuously lose games at the same time. If they're going to go down, the Caps need to go down swinging. And that means leaving the trap where it belongs: in the garbage heap.


Rob said...

I could not agree with you more!!!!!

HolyOlie said...

Thank you for stating so eloquently what I have been thinking for quite a while.

I can't take one more game of this crap...