Saturday, May 9, 2009

Back to Back Nights, Chapter 1 Ends, Chapter 2 Begins ...

First off, a pledge other than in these first three sentences, you will not, I repeat NOT, read anything about the Phoenix Coyotes. I am NOT a lawyer or expert in bankruptcy proceedings and I do NOT find them the least bit entertaining. I follow and watch NHL hockey as a diversion from work/business and my real cares in the world; I suspect in this regard I am similar to 99+% of NHL fandom. I refuse to even speculate what all these machinations mean to the NHL in the future until some worthy team captain hoists Lord Stanley's Cup above his head in June and even then I'm much, much more likely to blog about the upcoming NHL Draft. I wish others would do the same, not that I begrudge them the right to write about this junk it's just it diverts them from writing about things I like to read about. I do understand it's news, it's just not news I'm interested in.

Now what about those Washington Capitals? What are we Caps fans to do? I am getting - amused, disgusted, interested, revolted, and frustrated - all together at the same time once in a while at the comments on some of the message boards & blogs that are pondering these questions as well as wondering: a) If Bruce Boudreau is basically well - dumb; b) What's wrong with Mike Green and why he hasn't lit the red light every game in the playoffs; c) Why Alexander Semin hasn't been able to go wild on the Penguins; and a host of other things i regard as well - just plain silly. Folks/dear readers - lets start by acknowledging we are playing in the Conference Semifinals - we are down to arguably, the 8 best teams in the NHL right now first of all. Second of all lets acknowledge, as much as we Caps fans might not like the Penguins, they are a very, very talented hockey team, perhaps one of three or four with as many excellent "skill players" as the Capitals. Third lets acknowledge that over the last two games the Penguins have played their game plan very well AND they have played with more disciplined desperation than the Capitals.
With that out of the way - is it over for the Capitals? I think not, in fact I think no way. On Frozen Blog's pucksandbooks feels that the Caps played "uninspired hockey for prolonged stretches in games 3 and 4 and the key to turning things around are Semin and Green. He states "From my vantage, it's a real simple formula (not necessarily easily achieved) for the Capitals to regain momentum and control of this series in tonight's game 5: two world-class performers who've been anything but in this series, Alexander Semin and Mike Green, need to rise up and re-emerge as game-altering talents. Why don't I identify Simeon Varlamov as key? Obviously the Caps will need a better effort from Simeon in game 5 than he gave in Pittsburgh Friday night, but if Green and Semin go AWOL, the young goalie can stand on his head and it won't much matter. " While I agree that if Mike Green and Alexander Semin can reemerge in game 5 and the rest of the series life will be extremely difficult for the Penguins Defense and Marc-Andre Fluery, others could also have a similar effect on the games. Further while the Caps do indeed need solid outings from Sasha and "Game Over", they also need them to play within themselves and not make any stupid mistakes. Indeed both Semin and Green, along with Federov (who had two excellent scoring chances early in game 4 that could have altered the game), Backstrom, and Laich can all make a big difference in the rest of the series. Just as on the Pittsburgh side of the ice it's more than Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar and MAF; Washington has a TON of talented, skill guys - that's why in a best of three series, which is what we have now, anything can happen. Think about it, in black and gold you have: Malkin, Crosby, MAF, Satan, Guerin, Sykora, Gonchar, Gill, Letang, and Kunitz; in red, white and blue you have: Ovechkin, Semin, Federov, Backstrom, Laich, Varlamov, Green, Poti and Pothier - what a group of talented guys.
Now think about this, whoever wins this series will face a similar set of talented guys in each of the next two rounds - yes, this gut wrenching, indigestion producing, on the edge of your seats stuff is what every game between now and when the Caps hang up their skates for the summer will be like. So when you ponder "why? why? WHY?!?!?" don't even think about dismissing the real root reason - "Because these guys are all good, there is NO low hanging fruit, and besides being really good (like us) these guys really, really want to win too." So what am I saying - its simple - I neither agree or disagree with pucksandbooks - I think from here on out it'll take a team, an entire team, playing 60+ minutes to win every game left in every one of the four series ongoing. Now, let's just do it - no whining, no BS, no distractions let's go out there and kick some flightless bird butt you guys - I'll be the idiot screaming encouraging words in the Federov Jersey in section 103 - how's that for "Rockin the Red."
If you aren't just crying in your beer then you already know that 2 of the other 3 Conference Semifinal series are also tied 2 games apiece and only the Carolina Hurricanes are two games up leading the Boston Bruins 3 games to 1. I feel this further validates my point about no low hanging fruit anywhere in the journey between today and drinking champagne from Lord Stanley's Cup for anybody. Welcome to the new NHL and the parity that salary caps bring to professional sports.

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