Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Look Now ...

Don't look now but the Capitals are 6-2-2 (0.700) through their last 10 games. What does that mean, you ask. It means the Caps are in 8th and the Sabres are in 9th place both with 84 points in 76 games played going into Tuesday Night's showdown at Verizon Center. It means we, Washington D.C. hockey fans live in interesting times that's for sure. It also means that if the Caps beat the Sabres on Tuesday they will be 7th or 8th place depending on what happens tonight in Winnipeg when the Jets take on the Senators. Yep, interesting times for sure. That's indeed what these times are.

Yesterday I posted it was a time for Caps fans to think positive, the past is not any indication of the future in professional sports, seriously, anything can happen - thats why they play the games on the ice. Think about it, why else is it that only once since the lockout has the President's Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup - the 2008 Detroit Red Wings. In fact here's some interesting food for thought: The 2011 Boston Bruins finished 7th in the league regular season standings before going on to win the Stanley Cup last year. The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks finished third in the league standings before going into the playoffs and winning "Le Cup." The 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins finished in eighth place before going on to win the Stanley Cup. We already covered the 2008 Red Wings. The 2007 Anaheim Ducks finished the regular season in fourth and the 22006 Carolina Hurricanes also finished in fourth. Each of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup; the only thing to note though is the only one of those teams to go on to win the Cup and finish the regular season with less than 100 points are the 2009 Penguins and they finished the season with 45 wins and 99 points. If the Capitals made a run at the Cup this year it would be something unique for sure. So history would be made... and it could all start tonight...


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Hockey Musings ... 3/25/2012

Well Caps fans this morning we arise with "our team" still firmly lodged "on the bubble in 9th place in the Eastern Conference and 2nd Place in the Southeast Division. Here we are just 7 games from the end of the 2011 - 2012 NHL regular season and surprisingly the more things changed this season the more they remained the same. Overall the Caps have amassed 82 of 150 possible points in 75 games thus far (0.547) and they have the game they need to move up from 9th to 8th in hand, in fact they will play that game this evening here in DC at Verizon Center against the Minnesota Wild. How that game will go is likely anybody's guess, the 2011-2012 Washington Capitals have not been predictable, I have no idea or desire to prognosticate as to any individual game or it's results these days. I know my abilities to do so relative to the Capitals is entirely inadequate. After all on Friday Night if anybody had asked me after the first period the likely result of that game against the Jets, I would have confidently said it was going to be a two point night for the Capitals. Silly me, Trix are for kids....

Well what is there to say? I have one thing to the fellow Caps fan walking down F Street after Friday's game who said to me and others loudly: "They don't deserve to be in the playoffs" - I'll say this: if the Caps or any other team in the NHL makes the playoff cut when the 82 game season ends - they sure as heck do deserve to be there. Eighty two games is grueling. The Caps like any other team in the NHL have had more than their share of trials and tribulations over that period. For me, I can't wait and only hope that Nicklas Backstrom makes it back into the lineup this season sometime before the Caps stop playing hockey games, whenever that is. I'm glad to see Mike Green returning to form albeit with a slightly changed game. I'm ecstatic that over the last five games Ovie has been Ovie. I was very glad to see Alexander Semin out on the ice on Friday and even happier he had a good game after missing a couple. I could go on about everything I'm glad about with the Caps but I think I've made my point, if you make the playoffs you deserve to be there, so enough of that negative stuff fellow fans. No I'm not suggesting that we all celebrate the fact that on Friday the Capitals let what is now a very precious standings point "get away" - NOT AT ALL. All I am saying is if they do make the playoffs, I'll be very happy about it, I'll be at Verizon Center for the games, and I'll know it's a "second season" and "anything can happen."

So what's it going to take for the Caps to make the playoffs - This morning I'm thinking that if Buffalo keeps going the way they are going (7-1-4 in their last ten games) and Ottawa keeps playing 0.500 hockey, the answer is 92 points, which is pretty much what it's taken every season since the "lockout" to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. That's 10 more points than the Caps have right now and it means the Capitals have to play 0.714 hockey the rest of the way or they will need some help. Winning five of seven games in the NHL is never easy, winning them this time of year against playoff quality teams is even harder. The Caps seven remaining games have them playing playoff quality teams 4 of those 7, but make no mistake any one of those games could be a chance for the other team to be "a spoiler" and all professional athletes have a lot of pride to drive them this time of year. So once again I say the Capitals are in a position where "win and they are in" - they are still in control of their own fate. They need to take control of each of these remaining seven games and play like they can play for all sixty minutes. That's 420 minutes of solid, tough, in control hockey - 420 minutes of dare I say it - playoff hockey. It all just means that for the Capitals, the playoffs have already started. They need to win 5 out of the next 7 games, that's just one more game than they'll need to win in any of their playoff series this spring. As Ralph Kramden would say "Mere bag of shells, Norton." So enough of the negative stuff fellow Caps fans .....

One question though - what is a "wild" anyway?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Caps To Leave Verizon Center for Five Game On A High Note

It's been a four (4) point weekend for "our" Washington Capitals and that will enable the team to leave the friendly confines of Verizon Center where they are 23-10-3 (0.681) so far on the 2011 - 2012 NHL Season. Now they go on the road to Uniondale, NY; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; and Philadelphia, PA before returning to Verizon Center on Friday March 22nd to face the Winnipeg Jets for sixth (6th) and final time this regular season. If the Capitals ever needed to "turn around" their road record this season, they never needed it more than they do these next five games, so it's a good time for them to be leaving DC on a high point and with some solid confidence.

The Capitals are now 6-3-1 in their last 10 games (0.650) and have won their last three games as well as their last two road games. So once again the Capitals have me starting to think they just might make the playoffs. They are now in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and are only one point behind the Florida Panthers for first place in the Southeast Division, though Florida does still have one game in hand. Florida will have that game in hand until they play the Jets on March 3rd in Sunrise. That all means that it's entirely possible the game between the Panthers and the Capitals on March 5th here in DC at Verizon Center could be the most important game of the 2011-2012 NHL Regular Season for both the Capitals and the Panthers.

And so it begins. These next four weeks, these last four weeks of the regular season, well for the Capitals it's like "The Quickening" and they need to behave like Conner MacLeod and not Russell Nash. So to them I say: "Patience, Highlander. You have done well. But it'll take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each man's thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend." and if in the end, there can only be one then you know what the answer to this question must be: "If it came down to just us two, would you take my head?"