I want to start off by apologizing for the tardiness of my blog/article. As you know yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. day, but it was also my birthday, so I took the day off.
Ordinarily I would tell you about the three games from last week, but I watched yesterday’s matinee game versus the Islanders, and feel compelled to discuss it here as well.
Whenever people use the word “elevate” they typically mean “to raise up,” but as we all know, an “elevator” goes in both directions. It would seem to be this type of “elevator action” that seems to best describe the way the Capitals play their opponents.
I present you with the last two games the Capitals played; versus Boston, and then versus the New York Islanders. The Boston Bruins are tied for first in the league. The New York Islanders are currently the league’s worst team. The Bruins currently have 71 points, the Islanders have 29.
The Capitals faced both teams within three days, and beat both teams by the same score of 2-1. Now for those who only look at the score, you might dismiss a win as a win, but for those of us who watched the games, we know that they were completely different Capitals teams that faced those two opponents.
For everything the Capitals did right in pulling out a win versus the Bruins, they looked absolutely awful versus the Islanders. In the Bruins game, the Capitals played well enough to be (slightly) better than the best the league has to offer, but then they turned around and played almost as bad as the worst the league had to offer.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love a Caps win, and it made for a much more pleasant birthday than the one Coach Boudreau had last week, but you hate to see a team than is legitimately fourth in the league, second in their conference and first in their division allow themselves to be carried into overtime by a team that they should have dominated in every category.
As we go into the All-Star break, the Capitals have only one more opponent, and they face them tonight in Ottawa. Here’s how the Caps have done since last week.
A rough start – The Capitals started off last week facing the weakest of their three opponents (for that week) in the Edmonton Oilers and lost their third straight game. Washington outshot Edmonton 36-23, but still lost by a score of 5-2. It certainly didn’t help their cause by giving the Oilers a three goal lead that they would never relinquish.
Way to recover – The media did their best to hype up some animosity between Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malken. The Penguins whimpered and whined about Ovechkin taking “cheap shots” on their star playmakers, but ultimately lost the eighth of their last ten games as they fell to the Caps 6-3.
The difference between opponents – By contrast, the Boston Bruins had nothing but good things to say about Alex Ovechkin prior to their game versus the Capitals. I guess it’s different when you’ve won eight of your last ten; you don’t have to find someone to blame for losing. The Bruins did lose to the Caps 2-1 in a game that kept you on the edge of your seat. Boston scored first in what can best be described as a chess match between the two heavyweight opponents, but would only hold their lead for :70 seconds as Mike Green scored one for the good guys.
Maybe if I were really drunk – The Caps knocked off the Islanders, but they did it ugly. Really ugly. The Caps looked like they might just roll over the Isles, when Alex Ovechkin hit the back of the net on the one-timer, but after that it seemed like the Caps just played sloppy. It was Alex Ovechkin who flipped the puck up over the glass on the Penalty kill that gave New York their two-man advantage and lead to the game-tying goal in the third, but he would atone for that miscue by scoring on the power-play in a game that should never have gone into overtime.
The Wrap up – After going on a three game losing skid, the Caps have now won their last three games. They still have not lost four-in-a-row under Coach Boudreau. They have retained all of the same positions from last week (4th in the league, 2nd in the East, 1st in the Southeast) but have gained 3-points on Boston (cutting their lead in the East to 8-points) and have gained in the Southeast now holding a 13 point lead over Florida who has overtaken Carolina by one point.
Coming up – The Caps face Ottawa tonight and that will be the last game prior to the All-Star Break. If the Caps win tonight, they have a chance to gain another two points off of Boston when they face them immediately after the All-Star game next week.
They will need all the points they can get tonight as they might find points a little more scarce next week when they face the Bruins, Red Wings, and Rangers.
Tonight’s game versus Ottawa will be nationally televised on Versus, and should be a good one for the Caps, but they will certainly need to step up their game from the way they played yesterday.