Thursday, January 3, 2008

Starting the year off right

Wow. I mean WOW. Two games against the Senators (one to send off the old year, and one to ring in the new) with an amazing 23 goals between the teams and, most importantly, two wins and four points for the Caps.

For anyone that calls themselves a fan of hockey, these last two games have been absolute heaven. A four goal outburst from the slightly knicked up Russian Machine in the first game followed by two tallies by Mike Green in the second, and all the sudden the Caps are only five points out of a eight place and a playoff spot. And while 37 points might not seem like much to brag about, their record since Coach Boudreau took over the team (10-5-4) sure is.

The Caps have also found their personality under their new coach. Where before the emphasis was on defensive positioning and keeping the other team from scoring, Coach B has turned the team's old system on its ear, and instead is emphasizing quick strikes from every skater on the ice. Now instead of having wave after wave of opposing players crash against the Caps until they break, the Caps are now quick to strike at even a hint of weakness from the opposition.

In short, where the Caps system used to resemble a turtle (hard shell, slow, methodical) the Caps style now more resembles a rattlesnake, still appearing defensive in posture but much more threatening and aggresive when approached. Before, there was no reason for teams to keep their players from pinching deep, since the Caps were sure to play low in their own zone and keep a defensive shell. Now, any forward looking to attack had better be sure he doesn't put himself out of position, because if he does it's almost guaranteed that the Caps will send a defenseman to gain a numbers advantage in their counterattack. With the way Tom Poti and Mike Green have been attacking the net, that's something the opposition's defense has got to be nervous about.

Tonight, the Caps look to take two standing points from a stumbling (3-6-1) Bruins team and the goaltending style (or lack thereof) of Tim Thomas. Though he has put up solid numbers this year, I can't think of a goaltender north of Tampa whose style of play inspires less confidence than Timmy T. Look up shaky in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of Thomas sprawling awkwardly to make a play while his defensemen look on terrified.

Game time is 7PM at the Gahden, and despite previous reports, neither Alex Semin (bruised buttbone) or Tom Poti (the dreaded it-could-be-just-about-anything upper body injury) will be in uniform.

No comments: