Wait Til Next Season

By Rodger M. Wood

The Caps choked last night losing a vital playoff race game to 9th place Buffalo 5-1.
They were in a prime position to take charge of the pennant race but fell on their faces against the hard skating, tough forechecking and outstanding goaltending of the rival Sabres.

In other important road challenges to Caps playoff hopes the past week and a half, they lost to the Black Hawks 5-2, beat an injury depleted Red Wings team 5-3, lost to the Flyers 2-1 in overtime, lost to Winnipeg 4-3, and at home, beat Minnesota 3-0.

Before the Buffalo game they were in 8th and the last Eastern Conference playoff position in control of their destiny with 6 games to go, one each against Buffalo, and Southeast Division leader Florida, who was only three points ahead of them in the standings.

It’s sad the 2011-2012 Caps didn’t measure up to the “good team” GM McPhee said they’d be at the trade deadline when he made no player acquisitions to help the Caps limp offensive attack.

It’s too bad the team didn’t measure up to the Stanley Cup winner, the Hockey News predicted at the beginning of the season.

With or without Niklaus Backstrom, it doesn’t appear the Caps will win a playoff position or should a miracle happen and they win a playoff berth, make any significant playoff mark.

Our only hope is for Caps management during the off season to make the necessary changes to the team’s toughness chemistry, let some of the talented non producers go, and look in the mirror themselves to see if they should follow the losers out on the road..

If those necessary changes occur, maybe Caps fans have something to look forward and pay big bucks to see. As those changes are made, they can wait and look forward more enthusiastically to next season.

Capitals News

Are the Caps The Good Team GM McPhee Predicted?

By Rodger M. Wood

Dmitri Orlov 2 Edit

While the Caps were coming off a three game losing streak with consecutive wins over the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, there was a lot of doubt GM McPhee was right when he predicted the Caps were a “good” team” that could beat any team in the league after he didn’t make any additions to the team by the February 27th trade deadline.

Currently on a four game win streak against Tampa, the defending Stanley Cup winning Boston, Toronto, and New York Islanders and since the trade deadline with an overall 5-2-1 W-L record, good for 11 vital points of 16 possible in a tight Stanley Cup Playoff position race, the Caps are surging toward a playoff berth again.

They are a point behind Florida for first place in the Southeast Division and an automatic 3rd seed berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs and 3 points ahead of Buffalo and 4 points ahead of Winnipeg in the race for the 8th and last seed in the Eastern Conference.

While they are still missing potent offensive center Niklaus Backstrom (he was back on the ice skating at the Kettler Center yesterday before the Caps practice), and defensemen Mike Green, who will return to the lineup at Winnipeg Friday after serving a three game suspension, they are playing enough fired up hockey to win their last four games against the Lightning, Bruins, Maple Leafs, and Islanders.

Alex Ovechkin 2 Edit

One of the spark plug for the Capitals winning ways is again Alex Ovechkin. Skating hard like only “Alex the Great” can when he is on his game, Ovie led the Caps back from a 4-1 deficit to the beat the Islanders 5-4 with his 28th and 29th goals of the season in regulation and a shootout goal in overtime, and in the first game of the winning streak against the Lightning with a dramatic 27th goal in overtime.

Center Brooks Laich is also hot, scoring the winning goals against Toronto and Boston and playing good two way hockey in regular and special team shifts. (I often wonder why the Caps don’t take the captain pressure away from Ovie and bestow it upon Laich, who I think may handle the pressure better)

LW Alexander Semin, C Marcus Johansson, C Mathieu Perreault, RW Jay Beagle and Hershey call up RW Keith Aucoin are making strong offensive contributions, each scoring a goal in the past four wins.

LW Jason Chimera, C Matt Hendricks, and RW Troy Brouwer are keeping the opposing first line forwards honest with their tough play. While Chimera and Brouwer have been shut out, Henricks chipped in a goal in the Bruins game and a shootout goal to beat the Islanders in the overtime shootout.

While Caps defensemen have been adjusting to Coach Hunter’s defensive schemes and playing better defense, rookie defenseman Dmitri Orlov has been getting better and better each game he’s played. When Mike Green was available, Caps coach Hunter sat out veteran defensemen John Erskine and Roman Hamrlik in deference to the 20-year rookie, who has repaid his coach’s confidence with hard hip checks on opposing forwards and savvy offensive play, scoring a goal against the Islanders, and assisting on Ovie’s winning goal in the Islanders games and two goals in the Bruins game.

The improved Caps will be sorely tested in tough road games next week against the Black Hawks, Red Wings, and Flyers, however, if they win a couple games, they may just be on their way to proving they are indeed the good team McPhee predicted.