This posting was written while the Capitals played the Avalanche at Verizon Center on Saturday night. Alex Ovechkin had a great 1st period and a major cross checking penalty committed by Alexander Semin pretty much killed the second. The team had a bit of a resurgence led by Matt Hendricks when he scored to keep it close in the 3rd but in the end they lost 3-2, their 5th loss in a row. One thing is clear from the last 5 to 10 games and that’s the Caps lack of focus. Many of us have been left wondering who’s game are they playing anyway, because it certainly isn’t their own.
The Caps have superstar players whose collective effort as of late has produced an at beast streaky at worst average NHL team. They used a slingshot to make their way to the top of the league standings and a borrowed used car to cough and belch their way down as the game’s elite are passing them on their way up.
From Coach Bruce Boudreau on down his lines of players the common mantra is that hard work and old school bang’em up, heads up hockey will turn the tide and I’m not so sure they’re right. The Caps are a highly skilled hockey team where patience and precision is the name of the game and they’ve clearly lost focus on these strengths. How many give and go breakouts have been foiled by the shooter fanning on his shot? How many times have bodies reacted prematurely to set up plays that result in errant passes traveling behind or ahead of the intended target? And how many times can power play opportunities go by the wayside before other teams stop fearing your offensive firepower?
The Caps need to refocus their effort by recognizing their inherent ability to score goals and it needs to start with their Captain Alex Ovechkin. Many Caps fans have shown a great deal of patience waiting for the Ovechkin of old to reappear in the highlight reels. There was a time when Joe B. would proclaim from the broadcast booth, “The Great 8 shoots, The Great 8 scores,” and the collective masses would see the caliber of play among his teammates climb with each tally. Ovi the assist leader just doesn’t cut it, he’s 14 goals behind league leading Sidney Crosby’s 26 and that just leaves me…enough said, it’s time to change the mindset.
We haven’t hit the half way mark to the NHL Regular Season so panic’s not on the table, but real concerns are. The Caps need to keep cool heads and dry pants and focus on the skills that built the offensive powerhouse that other teams have had real difficulty in neutralizing.
Please note: the post game reaction from the Comcast Crew and Coach Boudreau was positive saying the team that played tonight was crashing more nets and playing better hockey than recent outings. I really wonder about conversations that deal with which losing team is the better losing team. The Capitals are held to a higher standard because they’ve earned it, a loss is a loss.