Monday, November 10, 2008

2 for 2

It's amazing what playing hard the full 60 minutes will do for a team. First, the Caps beat Carolina with their skills, scoring two pretty goals in the last 3 minutes of the game to shock the 'Canes 3-2. Two days later, they beat the Rangers with their will, grinding out a tough 3-1 win by creating havoc in front of Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist and crashing the net at every opportunity.

So what should be taken away from these two wins? First, that the Caps have the talent to compete with anyone in the East. The Carolina Hurricanes were first in the SouthEast, having won 4 of their last 6 games. The Rangers lead their division and were 5-2 in their last 7 games and had just dropped a five spot on Tampa.

The Capitals played like a team tired of being questioned about their effort, about their talent, and about their commitment to winning. They got contributions from just about everyone on the ice. Their skill players scored (Alex Semin, 3g in 2 games). Their heavyweights scored resounding victories to boost team momentum (Donald Brashear in a one sided whupping of Wade Brookbank). Their grinders went hard to the net (Boyd Gordon setting up Tom Poti's goal with a drive to the front of the net and Brooks Laich slapping a deflected puck out of midair past Lundqvist). And their goaltender performed like a number one is expected (even if it was technically their number 2), making an arrray of difficult saves and even stopping a penalty shot in a one goal game.

A split over the weekend would be a sign of a team still trying to catch its groove. A win against both teams is an announcement to the league: the Caps are here to win, no matter the opponent.

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