Thursday, December 16, 2010

Well Two Games Since Last Post, Two Losses But - Hopefully - Two Different Stories

Well since my last post about being hopeful, the Capitals have played two games and lost both. Last night, try as they may the ended up with a 2-1 Overtime loss to Anaheim here at Verizon Center. On Sunday night in New York, they lost 7-0 to the New York Rangers. So the optimist could/would AND since I'm an optimist will say "The trend is our friend - Sunday night: 0 points, Wednesday night: 1 point ..." Hopefully that means that come Saturday in Boston - well I think you get the idea. The other thing that we are all hopeful of is that the team that shows up to play every game the rest of the season is the team that played against Colorado and Anaheim on Saturday 12/11 and Anaheim last night - that team will win it's fair share of games - in my opinion. On the other hand the team that showed up for the rest of the last home stand against Conference foes Toronto, Atlanta and Florida as well as the Rangers wasn't the same team, sure they were the same physical players but their attitude and approach to the game. They were impatient, and immature.

The team that showed up and played against Saint Louis - the only win so far this month - on 12/1 and Dallas, Colorado, and Anaheim was mature, patient and focused on playing as a team and executing their game plan for a full sixty minutes. They also were willing to do the things necessary to give themselves a chance to win and not get discouraged and pull back or start to play like individuals, when the hockey gods choose not to smile upon them and give them "instant gratification." So I remain hopeful that the end of this streak is just around the corner, if not in Boston on Saturday - remember they too have two goaltenders either of whom - can steal a game and the way things are going let's be honest, it sure seems like either the coaches, the Capitals players, or we Caps fans, or all three of us, must have pissed off those elusive beings - the hockey gods. That's right - lets not get down on any individual, etc. after looking back over the Colorado game and last night's game against Anaheim, I'm sick of looking for something that caused the Caps not to win. I'm even sicker of talking about accountability and what the key players or coaching staff did or didn't do and whether this means they should be moved out of DC and/or off the roster/team. I'm especially out of time, patience and words for people who want to blame the GM and point to any particular player personnel decision over the past three years, as the problem. It's been 7 games, 7 out of the 82 the Caps need to play this season and when you look at this team's record over the past three seasons, those sorts of discussions are just without merit. Sure there need to be answers for why the skid and changes need to be made - but those changes need to be adjustments and hopefully also some additional returns to the roster of certain key players, especially on the blue line corps.

Look as David Steckel was quoted after last night's game: "Loosing sucks." However, the Caps are still sitting in the standings as one of the top teams in the Conference and the League overall standings - with 40 points - so all is not lost and its not too late. It's been said, to the point of also getting old - if you're a Caps fan, you'd rather this happen now and get sorted out now than in April. Things I hope and think will come out of this "rough patch":
1) A team dedicated to playing like a team and executing a game plan.
2) A team with mental toughness second to none other in the NHL.
3) A team whose coaching staff understands how to coach and get the most out of this extremely talented roster top to bottom.
4) A team whose roster top to bottom is dedicated to helping each other be the absolute best athlete they can be every game - the entire game.
5) A team that remains focused on the above four (4) items and goes out has fun, plays hard, plays tough and of course wins as a team.

Where are the Caps right now when you look at the NHL. Well that's why I say don't panic. Counting last nights hard won point, the Capitals are one of just four (4) of the thirty-two (32) teams in the NHL with forty (40) points after having played 33 games. In baseball terms they are playing 0.606 hockey so far this season and on pace for a 99 point season. That's no where near the pace they were on if that extrapolation was done November 30th and that's why we are all concerned - no argument there. However, if the Caps right the ship, as we all know they have the talent to do, it's not hard to see them finishing the season with the 100 points that usually is used as a benchmark of a top tier team in the NHL. All that though doesn't matter, the issue and he pressure comes from the fact that anything short of being highly competitive, and hopefully winning, this season's Stanley Cup finals will be less than everyone - Ownership, Coaching Staff, Players and Fans are looking for from this team. I've said it before and I'll say it again - we all get it - but to obtain the goal, that goal everyone needs to take a deep breath, make the necessary adjustments and just do it. The guys who really have to do it - the players - need to do it AS A TEAM. Despite loosing the last 7 games, the games against Colorado and Anaheim show me, they have the ability to do that, and they get it, even on a night when things don't all go their way. Hang in there folks, the team that played those games and the games against Saint Louis and Dallas - that's the team we all know of as "Our Washington Capitals". They're going to come through this even stronger than they went into it. We fans will all survive this - its really not a life changing thing for us - we're fans.

To the team: all of whom I'm relatively positive share David Steckel's sentiment, I say stay the course. The team that played last night is a team that could very easily be 5-5-2 for the month of December come Christmas Day. Loosen up the grip on your sticks, play the hockey with sound fundamentals and active sticks you've had drilled into your brains since you were five years old, and you'll all start enjoying being at the rink again AND getting the results you've gotten and spoiled us fans with over the last thee seasons.


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