I haven't had time to post anything this week though I did get to the rangers Game and Caught most of the Red Wings game; I also watched the Rangers - Anaheim game today thanks to the NHL Center Ice free preview on Comcast Cable. To be sure, I'm glad to be busy at work, it's been a frustrating week to be a Caps fan, or based on his blog apparently a Caps Majority Owner. In any case there's been a lot written on a number of frustrating losses of late - in fact three in a row. To be sure everyone seems to be noting the issues.
After the loss to the Rangers, Alexander Semin was quoted over at Alex Ovetjkin as having said: "Some ragged game is going on for Washington," said Semin. "We play great and then all of us stop playing. I myself don't understand why... I hope we'll get into the playoffs. But if we'll show there such kind of hockey, we won't go too far. However, this is just the beginning of the season. I want to believe that our game will improve soon." after last night's game.After last night's loos to the Red Wings in which Detroit poured it on in the third, out shooting the Caps 11-4, and with Mike Green in the box for the second time on the evening, Holmstrom put the Wings ahead for good with 6:53 left in regulation:
Ted Leonsis says in his blog: "When you play Detroit - in Detroit - you can’t give them 5 power plays with stick based penalties. Everyone knows that. Read this blog post to see some good notes from the game.
Detroit scored twice on the power play, one with 6 minutes left to take the lead and then they do what great and experienced teams do, they put the sleeper hold on us and just won like it was a playoff game 3-2. Boring and hyper efficient."
Others noted that it was a good thing goaltender Jose Theodore was on his game last night because the Caps allowed 37 shots on goal. They also had another 31 attempted shots - the Caps blocked 20 shots from the Red Wings and Detroit missed everything 11 times.
Some more thoughts by others following the Red Wing game from around the blogsphere:
First this beauty from Peerless: - Alex Ovechkin had an assist tonight, giving him five on the year. Sidney Crosby has only one. Can we now call Sidney Crosby a “puck hog?”
I couldn't agree more with this comment over at Japer's Rink from DMG: "If the Capitals didn't have Mike Knuble or Brooks Laich, would they set Tom Poti up in front of the net on the power play? He's been awfully good at screening goaltenders lately. "
So I'd figure I'd focus on what I think the Caps need to do the rest of the month to get back on track vice lament the recent faux paux. The Caps have a total of 13 games in the enitire month of October. They play 8 of those 13 games against 2009 playoff teams and 5 against teams that didn't make the playoffs last season, additionally all 5 games against non-playoff teams are against Eastern Conference foes, including 2 against SE division opponents. In my opinion, to ensure they are well positioned as a leauge leader the Capitals need to finish October with at least 0.550 versus playoff teams and 0.750 against non-playoff confernce opponents. That means they need to finish October with a total of at least 16 points. The Caps now have 5 points, they have 8 games left this month - 16 possible points and they've dug themselves a minor hole they need to climb out of since they need to capture 11 of those 16 points. That means they need to play 0.688 hockey the rest of the month.
To capture those 11 points the Caps don't have to be super-human, but they have to stop playing less then smart hockey. They have to get their power play back on track, stop taking "bad" penalties, and stop the foolish move giveaways. When they get a lead, they have to finish off the opponent rather than let up and letting them back into a game. Let's look at those remaining games in October and highlight the keys to Caps victory in each.
Tomorrow night at Verizon - The New Jersey Devils. Well over last season the Caps went 3-0-1 against the Devils so there's no doubt the Devils will be ready and take the Caps seriously. For the Caps need to stay out of the box and take what the Devils give them, the Caps also need to out shoot the Devils in all three periods and out score them in at least two of the three periods. Finally the Caps can't give up any softies and play all 60 minutes.
Thursday night at Verizon - The San Jose Sharks. Last season the Caps lost to the Sharks 7-2 in San Jose. To win the Caps will need to contain Dany Heatley and they need to play smart hockey. San Jose won't beat themselves, the Caps need to beat them.
Saturday, 10/17 at Verizon - The Nashville Predators. Last season, the beat the Preds twice - both in overtime. So far this season the Preds are 2-1-0 and have been involved in three low scoring, tight games, including their opener which was a shootout victory. This week they have three games before they play the Caps. Tomorrow night they play the Oilers at home then have a back to back on Wednesday and Thursday - Wed vs the Stars in Dallas and Thursday at home against the Blackhawks before they travel to DC for Saturday evening's game. It'll be important for the Caps to strike first, keep the home crowd in it and outwork the Preds, it'll also be important for the Caps to stay focused on hockey and that can be hard during an extended home stand like this coming week will be.
Basically the Caps need to win at least two of the three games they have on this coming week's home stand. Five of the six available points from these next three opponents - all 2009 playoff teams - would go a long, long way to getting back on track but it's probably too much to ask, 4 of those 6 points is 0.667 hockey against the stronger opponents in the 8 remaining games this month and will keep them on track to recovery though.
How the Capitals get a four day break during October in this season's compressed schedule is anybody's guess but they do. After playing Nashville the Capitals don't play a game until Thursday 10/22 when they take on Atlanta, in Atlanta.
Thursday 10/22 in Atlanta - the Thrashers at Phillips Center. Last year the Caps went 4-2-0, but the two losses were pretty embarrassing outings when the Caps traveled to Atlanta. Atlanta is 2-1-0 so far this season. They have a pretty reasonable schedule this year in October, they have three more games before they play the Caps - all of which are against Eastern Conference foes on the road. The key for the Caps will be to play solid, smart hockey and throw rubber at the Thrashers netminder, on target, get shots through, and not let the Thrashers guns loose or make it easy for them to break out of their zone. If they do that this will be a two point night for the Caps.
Saturday 10/24 in Uniondale, NY - the Islanders at Veteran's Coliseum. Simply put for the Caps to win, they need to play smart hockey, take what the Isles give them and don't beat themselves. Stay out of the penalty box, put rubber on net, out shoot the Islanders and don't let them get easy break outs. The Caps are a much more talented team then the Isles but the Isles will play with a chip on their shoulder as the Isles played the Caps to an 0-2-2 record last season, though both overtime games were played on Long Island.
Tuesday 10/27 at Verizon - the Philadelphia Flyers. The second meeting of this short season, earlier this month the Caps lost in Philly in OT 6-5. The Caps need to tighten things up against the Flyers this next meeting. The Flyers took what the Caps gave them and walked away with two points. It was an all out game for 60 minutes, but the Caps made a few too many mistakes. If they play Tom Poti and John Erskine have to make sure they play a very different game then the one they played in Philadelphia. In the end the Caps need to beat the Flyers by keeping it simple and playing solid two way defensive hockey as much or more than they need to play high flying offense and forechecking.
Thursday 10/29 in Atlanta - the Thrashers at Phillips Center. See 10/22, also it wouldn't hurt if we get a little out of the "Our Russians are better than your Russians" angle going, since this might be a game that Varly plays as the Caps have back to backs, their first of the season to close out the month.
Friday 10/30 - the New York Islanders here in DC at Verizon Center. Once again, the Caps need to ensure they don't beat themselves. They also need to keep the energy level up, the game will be the back side of a back to back for the Caps and the front side of a back to back for the Isles.
Basically during the last five games of the month, the Caps should make sure they finish the month strong with 7 or 8 of the 10 available points. If they do all that they can finish the month with 16 or 17 points though the month of October. They will have used the month to establish themselves as one of the beasts of the East and gotten themselves back on track. They will have played through the doldrums of the past three games, etc. they will have also figured out how to respond to others starting to figure them out. To do that they'll need it all. Maturity, discipline, a game plan with an effective response when others shut down Ovechkin by keying on him, and making sure that in at least 6 of the 8 remaining games they need to limit opponents to 27 or less shots and a GAA of 2.74 or less while staying on track with a GF average of 2.9 or more a game.
See you tomorrow at the Phone Booth..,
LETS GO CAPS!!!