Monday, April 9, 2007

All things must come to an end

Another year, another Capitals season done before its time. The Caps were unable to put together a three game winning streak to end the season, falling 2-0 to the Buffaslugs. Kris Beech had two of the best opportunities for the Caps, which is why they ended the game with a goose egg. Indeed, if the Capitals could have taken advantage of their opportunities, they might have won the game. However, the inability to finish chances again proved their undoing.

Two observations on Buffalo. One, Ryan Miller is good. Real good. But he isn't as good as the Caps made him look Saturday. For example, at first glance Miller's save on a one timer from a wide open Beech appeared to be an all-world save. Until you realize that 1) Beech took an extra second to settle the puck, so it wasn't a one-timer at all and 2) that gave Miller the time he needed to set and kick across to make the stop. Good save, yes. But it was just as much a poor offensive decision. Hopefully, the Caps will have guys with better offensive instincts to finish off plays like that next year.

Second, Daniel Briere is an absolute pansy. If there was any doubt before he was tossed for spearing, it's gone now. This is the second time against the Caps Briere has used his stick as a weapon in one season. It shows an utter lack of respect for the opposing players and the game of hockey in general. But from a class act like Briere, we've come to expect no less. If the Caps sign him instead of Drury or Gomez this summer, my head might explode.

As a side note, Fan Appreciation Night proved to be an exercise in frustration. Yes, it was nice that prizes were given to the fans throughout the game. That part of the day was well-organized and executed. And it was great to see all the members of the team, even the injured ones, on the ice at the end of the season. But there was an issue which kept a lot of folks from enjoying the entire game. For some reason, the concessions stands on the 4th floor were less than half staffed, which led to lines so long that some folks (such as my girlfriend) had to wait in line for OVER HALF of the second period. Not the experience you want fans to take away from the last game of the season.

And so we come to the end of another Caps season. We've seen the good (Olie Kolzig's consistently outstanding play, the wizardry of Semin's stickhandling and the power of Ovechkin firing a wrister in full stride). We've seen the bad (the team's dowright futile road record in the second half of the season, the regression of a very young defense, the rash of injuries after the all star break). We've definitely seen the ugly (several downright atrocious performances against the Florida Panthers).

But with all we've seen, this offseason promises to offer the one thing that's been in short supply for Capitals fans. Hope. The team now has the chance to build on a solid foundation of young talent. I don't think the same has been said about a Caps team in 15 years. Not even in their best years did the Caps have the top-flight offensive talent that has been on display at the V this season. With all due respect to Peter Bondra, who was a scoring machine on a team with almost no other offensive options, the Capitals have never had an Ovechkin before. They certainly haven't had two players with the amazing offensive gifts that Semin and Ovechkin have.

Yes, they certainly have holes to fill. Lots of them. But with the core of the offense (Ovechkin, Semin, Clark, Backstrom, Gordon, Fleischmann, and Eric Fehr if his back ever heals) set for next year, the future looks bright. And with the another year's experience, this young defense has a lot of potential. And while I'm the first one to say the Caps need to be active in free agency and possibly trade some of their stockpiled draft picks and young talent for established players, the future of this team looks bright. Keep your chins up, Caps fans. Better days are on the horizon.

And always remember:

Let's go Caps!
Let's go Caps!
Let's go Caps!

----------------------------------------------
Update: There's a great shot of the Deuce with his newly won Alex Ovechkin signed puck at Japers' end of the year shindig up at Japer's Rink. As usual, I won nothing.

1 comment:

Biff said...

I had the same problem trying to get a hotdog on the 200 level. I missed roughly the first eight minutes of game time in the 2nd period.