Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Games Since My Last Blog Post and a 2-1-0 Record

Well last Saturday when I posted my last blog post I like virtually all Capitals fans was wondering how in the world, or more specifically when in the world, the Capitals loosing streak would end. Of course I was hoping, as all Caps fans were that it would end that evening in Boston. Alas that wasn't to be, try as they might last Saturday, the Capitals efforts to resume their winning ways wasn't to happen in beantown. First the Capitals decided to spot what will likely at the end of this season be listed as the NHL's "stingiest/best defensive team" a two goal lead during the first period. Then a guy named Tim Thomas was determined to send the Capitals off to Ottawa with their eighth straight loss. the Caps played well enough to deserve to win but all Thomas and his Bruins teammates would give the Capitals was two goals while they managed to send three pucks past Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

So off to Ottawa the Capitals went to take on the Senators the following evening. Once again we Caps fans were no doubt hoping the skid would end and once again the Caps decided to "spot their opponents" a two goal lead. However, the Senators are not the Bruins and Brian Elliott is not Tim Thomas, at least not this season and certainly not last Sunday evening. So the Capitals came out at the start of the second period with the score Senators 2 - Capitals 0, and they quickly (in the first 1:20 of the second period) tied the game up 2-2. At the 6:40 mark of the second period Matheiu Perreault scored his second goal of the game to put the Capitals up by a score of 3-2 and from that point forward, the Capitals played with enough abandon that they pretty much didn't have to look back. Despite not scoring again during the remaining 33:40 of the game, the Capitals played smart, dominant hockey and while the third period saw each team get three power play opportunities each, the Capitals were the more dominant team. The Caps made sure they closed out this game and ended their loosing streak and as they say "Joyous Noel". I'm not sure if the Capitals sang Christmas Carols on their flight back from Ottawa but according to what everyone is saying and was seen on 24/7 they were at least relieved to have ended the loosing streak.

Next came Tuesday evening's game against the New Jersey Devils. who have been having their own struggles so far this season. This was the third meeting of the season between the Capitals and the Devils in the first two meetings the Capitals were schitzo. The first meeting was the Capitals season home opener on October 9 and they throttled the Devils 7-2. Then the two teams met in New Jersey at "The Rock" on November 22 and the Capitals for all intents and purposes had one of their worst games in the past 3 seasons so the Devils won 5-0. This past Tuesday evening the Capitals pretty much owned New Jersey during the second and third periods after both teams played well in the first period - final result: Caps 5 - Devils 1. The fans at Verizon Center were chanting "We Want The Pens" during the third period on Tuesday and that's what we'll all get tonight.Also I guess it looks like the Caps game was John MacLean's last behind the bench as the Devils Coach at least according to the twitter feed tweets I've been seeing this morning. That's a real shame because from my vantage point the problem likely hasn't been MacLean as since the they basically got "screwed" (there I said it) by the NHL in this summer's arbitration ruling they've been a team that was going to have to deal with a very challenging transition period all year. Then the injuries they've had just made it all a tough year in Newark. I don't know what anybody could do with the current state of affairs in NJ and of course you have to try and change up what you can to turn things around but in the long run MacLean will probably end up being seen as a good NHL coach 10 years from now after he gets a fair chance at his next stop in his career.

Now onto looking ahead to tonight's normal, regular season two point game between the Capitals and the Penguins at Verizon Center. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Penguins come into the game with 48 points and a 23-10-2 record while the Caps come into it with 44 points and a 20-12-4 record. Both teams have won their last two games. In their last 10 outings Pittsburgh is the hottest team in the NHL with an 8-2-0 record while the Capitals are 2-6-2 and working real hard for the remainder of this month to avoid having the first sub 0.500 month since Bruce Boudreau took over from Glen Hanlon behind the bench. During those last 10 games the Penguins top stars have been on fire and have generally figured prominently in each game's results. In short while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin generally figure prominently in virtually every game they play, it has been even more so the case so far this December. make no mistake, the other members of the team have also played well and that's why the Pen's are currently the hottest team in the league. For the Capitals, there was a similar story during the month of November but so far this month the Capital's names that were on the NHL leader board at the end of December have not lit up the scoreboard in December. That's not to say that over the past several games they haven't made their presence felt it's just to ay that unless things change tonight, don't be surprised if you see the Capitals continue to distribute the puck and the scoring more widely throughout the roster - if they continue to play well as they have for the past couple of games. I won't make any predictions other than to point out the obvious, as always, this will be a good game to watch tonight unless something totally bizarre happens. I expect both teams to play even harder than they usually do when they play others around the league - that's just based on recent past history. I also expect to see some sort of twist thrown in to the Caps lineup by Coach Boudreau - again that's based on recent past experience.



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