Thursday, November 8, 2007

Uh oh...

While we'd love to be optomistic about tonight's faceoff with the Senators, it's very, very difficult to see anything but another Carolina-style whuppin coming. The Caps are sliding dangerously close to irrelevance, having won only 2 of their last 10 games. The Senators, meanwhile, have won 9 of their last 10 and are 13-1 overall. They've mowed down the opposition, racking up goals to the tune of 3 1/2 a game.

The one place to find solace? The Caps beat Toronto by a larger margin (6 goals) than Ottawa (4) in their last meeting. Hey, you gotta find SOMETHING positive in there.

The Caps clearly need a win, but just as important, they need a breakthrough game on the scoresheet. While I'm no fan of moral victories, a 5-4 loss to the league's best team would be something to build on going into this weekend's matchup with Tampa. But in order for that to happen, the Caps need to do the little things that they have been missing.

On the power play, the Caps need to abandon the whole "Holmstrom-like" concept of planting someone in front of the net at all times. A strategically timed skater moving across the goaltender's field of view is just as valuable as a flat footed player in front, and said player is much less likely to be killed by an Ovechkin one timer. So Glen, please stop trying to murder your players by setting stationary screens in front of the net when you KNOW your snipers pick top corners, and do it at high velocity. At this rate, if a change isn't made every player on the roster will be knocked out by an OV slapper by the end of the season.

At even strength, the Capitals absolutely must play physical hockey in all three ends. To paraphrase the great Herb Brooks, the Caps are not talented enough to win on talent alone. The Caps need to grind against skill teams (Ottawa, Carolina, Tampa), play with skill against grind teams (New Jersey, Vancouver), and they've done precious little of either as of late.

Third, to make this even a remotely close game, Olie Kolzig needs to channel a performance from the 1998 playoff run and frustrate the Senators snipers early. If he can hold the score to 1 or 2 goals in the first two periods, the Caps have a chance. If not....

Despite how dire the situation looks, the Caps don't need a win tonight to keep their hopes alive. What they need is a strong performance heading into Saturday's Southeast Division showdown with Tampa, which IS a make or break game for them. I expect a gritty performance, and maybe an OT point tonight.

Caps 4, Sens 5 (OT).

1 comment:

prcizmadia said...

pretty f'n rad, aye? i been out at the bar all night and i'm still way too giddy after this win. and lord knows i was skeptical.

wow. good times. woOOOOOOOO