By Rodger M. Wood
Although the Caps are 1-4-1 in the past six games, not all is bleak with the Capitals nowadays.
They started the season off with 7 straight wins, have won 10 games of 17 for the season, and are tied with the lowly Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead with 21 points.
Forwards Mike Knuble, Troy Brouwer, Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Joel Ward, defenseman John Erskine plus goalie Tomas Vokoun are playing hockey and earning their keep.
But at the game last night, I could hear the lowly 6-9-3 W-L –OL Winnipeg fans sarcastically jeering Ovie and Coach Boudreau after the home team Jets took a 4-1 lead at 10:54 of the second period.
Indeed, the Caps looked like a joke. Coach Boudreau wasn’ t getting 100% effort from his stars, they weren’t forechecking, chasing down the puck, or crashing the net, were taking more foolish penalties, and getting weak goaltending, while Jets goalie Ondrej Pavalec did acobats, stopped shot after shot at the other end of the ice and Jets second year pro Evander Kane, scoring two goals, almost had a hat trick.
Awhile back In the Pittsburgh game, which the Caps won 3-2 in OT, it was embarrassing when Penguins tough guy Arron Asham, former Capitals forward Dale Hunter’s lookalike, mocked the Capitals manliness after he decked Caps forward Jay Beagle, effectively putting him out of the lineup with a concussion the last nine games, and in return, was not pummeled by a single Caps teammate’s blows.
Except for fluky wins against the Red Wings away and the Ducks at home, the Caps have also been embarrassed in successive losses to the Oilers, Canucks, Predators, Stars, and the other physically tough Western Conference foes they have faced this season.
If the stars are not scoring goals, and shying away from the toughness of the game, what would be the loss in keeping one of them off the ice watching the game from the stands?
After the Jets loss, the Caps were tied with the rejuvenated Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and 6th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, only a point ahead of defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and division rival Tampa Bay Lightning. If they don’t start winning again soon, the Caps will fall out of the 8-team conference Stanley Cup playoff contention.
Resting Ovechkin and Semin during game critical situations, Boudreau is desperately trying to awaken his fading star power. So far unsuccessful, maybe instead, he needs to sit one of his super stars down in the stands for a game or two, while other Capitals restore Capitals’ self – respect.