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Posted at 10:22 AM ET, 11/24/2010

When to panic: A guide for Caps fans

By Nicole Weissman

Growing up in D.C., I’m well-versed in the roller coaster experience of being a sports fan. Have you heard? This is the year for the Skins! We signed [moody player who performed exquisitely for a different team] to a [large number] year, [large number] million dollar contract, and now the Skins are back. Underperform, rinse, and repeat. 

The Caps can be a roller coaster of their own, so it’s important to know when to panic and when to wait it out. Luckily, I have compiled a quick guide.

Don’t panic when… The Caps lose two out of three games 5-0: This team is better off if it comes face to face with its own mortality long before the post-season. The occasional reality check will only help.
Do panic when… The Caps lose two out of every three games 5-0: Can you believe that used to be reality for us? And when you are the whipping boy of the entire league, yes, you should panic.

Don’t panic when… The veterans get hurt in November: Sure, one-time injuries can turn into nagging aches and pains, especially for the older guys and/or Semyon Varlamov. But taking a few games off here and there will give younger guys an opportunity for call-ups, and will teach players to manage their conditioning and their bodies.
Do panic when… The veterans get hurt in April: Playoff hockey is simply more demanding than regular season hockey, and injuries are bound to happen. For a Cup run, veteran leadership can’t just be in the locker room or up in the press box, it has to be on the ice.

Don’t panic when… We don’t have one go-to goaltender: Olie Kolzig’s consistency, good health, and sheer talent spoiled Caps fans for years. Splitting the load between two goaltenders is getting more and more popular. While one all-star goalie seems great, there’s no reason not to favor depth at every position.
Do panic when… We don’t have any go-to goaltenders: With an injury-prone goalie like Semyon Varlamov, we may often find ourselves feeling like, for a team with the most young goaltending talent in the league, we have an awfully hard time finding guys to put in net.

For all other scenarios, here are two rules of thumb. First, remember that the season is long. This isn’t football! Our season is 82 games, so pace your hysteria. Second, look for context. Two losses out of three games (to pull an example out of thin air) does not a trend make. Check additional signs and indicators before activating your ejector seat.

This post has been tongue in cheek, because coming off an unpleasant Caps weekend I thought we all could use some humor. But if I may be serious, one thing I enjoy about being a Caps fan is that we do a good job of drawing on past experiences and current trends to have informed discussions about our team. So let’s all take off our life jackets and dig into this weekend’s little slump. Would you change the lines? Are you dying to have Mike Knuble back in the lineup? “Fire Bruce,” “Fire McPhee,” and “Trade Ovechkin” are not constructive thoughts. For the time being, this is a panic-free zone.

By Nicole Weissman  | November 24, 2010; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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Next: Relax, it could be worse - you could be a Vikings fan


Bravo Nicole, bravo!!

Posted by: adhardwick | November 24, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, Nicole. I find much amusement in the fire Bruce/ fire McPhee histrionics and trade so-and-so or bench so-and-so. At the quarter post of the season, this is a team tied for league lead in points with the Phlyers and doing that while trying to establish a re-balance between tighter defense and the accustomed aggressive offense. Doing this with youngsters in goal, on defense and in the middle. Not bad for a team that is, if you are watching closely, is trying to tweak their game. I give them a B+ so far (yes, it is a tough grade for a 30 point team at this time of the season). Looking forward to the next ten games when it'll be time to re-evaluate the grading.
And yes, Knuble needs to be on the ice....soon. Real soon.

Posted by: prestoj | November 24, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

seriously, if this is how the caps are doing when they're ridden with injuries, their goaltending has declined, and their stars aren't showing up, I can't wait to see them when they hit their stride.

Posted by: j762 | November 25, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

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