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Posted at 8:11 AM ET, 12/14/2010

Can we all stop freaking out please?

By Ryan Cooper

I know times are tough in Caps land. Believe me, I want the team to win just as badly as you do, and it sucks when they lose and do so repeatedly.

But please, for the love of Mary, let’s have some perspective.

As I write this it’s December 14th. The Caps are 18-11-3, which makes them three points ahead of Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division. They’re second in the Eastern Conference, and five points behind Pittsburgh, who have won a million in a row. They have more wins at home than any team in the league.

I don’t expect my hockey team to lose games by a touchdown, but you know what? It happens sometimes. Teams go through adversity, and they go on losing streaks. The 1982 Edmonton Oilers had the greatest collapse in postseason history. They got pummeled the next year by the Islanders in four games. I think they turned out okay. Last year, the Flyers needed a miracle just to make the playoffs after struggling the entire season. They made the Stanley Cup Finals.

Some fans are so eager to change everything that they perceive to be wrong with this team. I can’t count how many “Fire Boudreaus” and “Fire GMGMs” I’ve seen around the Caps boards and comments. Hire Bob Hartley! Hire Mike Keenan (my personal favorite of the Gang of Gratuitous Hyperbole)!  Trade Semin! Trade all these guys to this team for all these guys! That will fix everything!

This is not to say players and coaches shouldn’t be held accountable; however, when it gets to the level of craziness it’s getting to around the various social networks and forums, it’s beyond ridiculous.

The point is, life, and the actual NHL, are not like NHL 11. There are personal relationships and team chemistry to consider. You just can’t deal half a hockey team (or players you don’t like for whatever reason). What happens if they fire Boudreau, and the next guy comes in and loses six straight?  What then? What happens if they trade every single player you want out of here, and nothing changes?

The bottom line is, you or I can’t go out there and execute for the Caps. They’re in a pretty bad offensive slump, and eventually it’s going to change. It will regress to the mean, as everything does. The Penguins are not as good as they look right now. The Capitals are not as bad as they look right now. Let’s listen to my good friend W. Axl Rose, and have a little patience before we try to fire half the front office.

Perhaps you would like to be a Devils fan right now? Or maybe an Islanders fan?

By Ryan Cooper  | December 14, 2010; 8:11 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Ryan Cooper  | Tags:  Capitals, Ryan Cooper  
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Next: What are the Caps doing right?


Well people will start to hammer you for having this mindset.

Posted by: CelticFCbhoys | December 14, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Finally, a voice of reason. Agree 100%.

Posted by: vtto2485 | December 14, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who wants Keenan is an idiot. Their opinions thereafter should be relegated to blind squirrel finding a nut status. I'm all for making a smart coaching replacement when necessary, but "Iron Mike" does not fit this scenario.

Posted by: GFisher1 | December 14, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Ahhh.........some sanity. It is absolutely true that the Pens are not as good as they are playing right now nor are the Caps as bad. I've been a believer of the old saying that says what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

BB and GMGM cannot do anything immediately to turn this around, so firings and/or trades are not the answer. The players need to work this out amongst themselves. Maybe the Ovie/Dubie fight was a signal that this is coming. Personally, I'd be encouraged to hear that the leaders on this team call for a players only meeting. Air all the frustrations then get back on track.

This current slump provides an excellent opportunity for the players to prove (to themselves) that they can work through adversity on the way to achieving greater successes. Success without having to fight for it scares me more than a six game losing streak.

Posted by: prestoj | December 14, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Sanity. But I'll still be happy when we start playing hockey again.....

Posted by: CF11555 | December 14, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I think the answer is somewhere in the middle of the opinion you talk about and your own. Your opinion could be considered just as out there as the opinions your are tearing apart. Not sure how long you have followed the Caps but the teams you listed have had champion seasons. They were not the red headed step brother of the Penguins. They did not always come up short when it mattered. I am pretty sure those fans reacted the same way back then.

The good sign is this is how Redskins fans react to everything. This is a football town. Having reactions similar to Redskins fan is a great sign that this is becoming a hockey town.

A friend of mine pointed something out while I was saying we should not fire the coach. He pointed out that the Penguins fire their coach during a losing streak and went to the cup. The same can be said about other recent cup winners or finalist. A major issue a lot of fans have with the Caps is they do not make the moves like champion teams do. They do not have the foresight to do that. Maybe these fans you are disrespecting do have that. I would not throw their opinions away. Disagree and I understand but we have read stuff like this for years and the same results happen in the playoff's.

It gets a little old I guess. The Excuses. Even if I agree with you I do not feel it is right to discredit someone that disagrees with you as overreaction or not being patient. If someone is a fan of this team they have INCREDIBLE patience.

Posted by: Mike4169 | December 14, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

BTW after Edmonton choked back in the day I am pretty sure they changed coaching and traded players lol

Posted by: Mike4169 | December 14, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

There a lot of hockey know-it-alls on this board. This bad streak is good for them and will help show what the need by the trade deadline in late Feb. Caoch may have to tray another angle and it appeared he did after the loss. I am sure he is not a quiet voice very often but they are searching on how to turn this around. Better now then April. Let's win Wednesday and go from there without jumping off the ledge. This is a good team built for the long haul and will beat the Pens and others when it counts.

Posted by: ballgame21 | December 14, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Glen Sather, 1980-89 I stand corrected :-)

but they did make changes...

The Oilers were so determined to win the Stanley Cup that they hired Roger Neilson as a video analyst

Posted by: Mike4169 | December 14, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree ballgame. I think this is how the team will learn to win in the playoff's. I just do not think it's right to discredit someone elses opinion on the matter. We are all "know it alls" here

Posted by: Mike4169 | December 14, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I actually hope the slump continues for the next month or so, and then the Caps turn it on in mid-to-late Jan and go on a run to end the season. Look at the Pens teams of the last few years. They've struggled a little during the reg season, but have caught fire in Feb-March and have carried that mo' to the postseason. The worst thing the Caps can do for themselves would be to finish 1st overall again. I'd like to see them get in as a 4 seed and shed some of the attention they would get should they win the Prez trophy again.

I still think their main problem is a lack of a big 2C, and not being able to win the key battles in the corners. IMO they should also tweak their breakout style and neutral zone attack scheme to free Ovechkin up a little. I think it's obvious to everyone that teams are bottling him up right when he enters the offensive zone. Luckily for us, Ovie is a world-class talent and I'm confident that he'll figure out how to adjust and counter other teams' gameplans for him.

The Caps are also still mediocre when it comes to getting the puck out of their own zone. Goalie-wise, I half-disagree with Feinstein because I do think a guy like Neuvirth could get hot in the playoffs. Sometimes it happens for young goalies (Niemi and Fleury both come to mind). Hannan was an OK acquisition, certainly an upgrade over guys like ShaMo, Juice and Sloan who have all logged key mins in recent playoff years. But the Caps still lack a shut-down D, and although guys like Pronger, Chara, Keith and Gil are hard to come by, their teams are poised to do well in the playoffs every year because of them.

Bottom line: This is not our year. Don't expect a Cup in 2011. However, I do think we could make a serious run in 2012.

Posted by: gaholtzman | December 14, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

This is not our year. Don't expect a Cup in 2011.

I agree. Somone once said (I think it was John Madden) "First you win; then you get good." I think 2010-11 is the Caps' "Get good season".

Posted by: prestoj | December 14, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Caps fans need to chill out a little bit.

I understand that the age of the salary cap and free agency makes it difficult to be patient. And I do personally think that this year or next are our best chances due to pending free agency of key players.

Obviously we are missing a 2C and a top shut-down defenseman to win. I don't think goaltending is the issue - how many goals are scored because our d-men can't protect our crease, or can't clear the zone?

But we have cap space and room until the trade deadline.

Now if Boudreau can't get it going again for another month then maybe you consider a change. But I personally think that the players need to take some responsibility among themselves - maybe Ov's fight signals that. Some adversity now will help them get ready for the playoffs. The only way this team will win it all is if we have some more grit in every player - they all need to be like Yzerman or Messier and refuse to lose. I think a long losing streak will give these guys a taste of what they don't want to be.

I think some of the fair-weather Redskins fans have migrated over to the Capitals because the Caps seem to have a chance at winning it all. And that's who's doing the majority of complaining - Redskins fair-weather fans who didn't have the guts to go to a game on Sunday in the rain. Look at the stands in Buffalo - freezing cold, crappy team for years, and they put more people in the stadium on a weekly basis.

Now the Redskins fans who stuck it out on Sunday, I don't mind them coming to Caps games, because they are true loyal fans who have patience.

I have followed this team for my whole life and it does require patience. As I sat through the entire game 7 embarrasment against Pittsburgh 2 years ago, I told my young daughter - "This is what it's like to be a Caps fan. The bad taste in our mouths today will be so much sweeter when we finally do win the Cup. So remember this day among all the other heartbreaks, because our day will come."

Posted by: BringThePain | December 14, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cooper,

You make some very reasonable points. There are just two things I have to say:

1) Please go talk some sense in John Feinstein (or was this already addressed to him?)

2) Prepare to be hated on for you're rationale in the same way our leading goal scorer is hated on.

Posted by: rihardy | December 14, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

This is not our year. Don't expect a Cup in 2011.

I agree. Somone once said (I think it was John Madden) "First you win; then you get good." I think 2010-11 is the Caps' "Get good season".

What the hell was last year? Why don't we have a bake sale for these poor guys? Come on, the Caps are just not getting it done. In fact, after so much unacceptable postseason failure, they are indeed regressing. Don't forget that the Caps went 5-0 in their first five extra-time games. That could have easily gone the other way in those crapshoots. What would their record be then? And McPhee talks about "five bad days in April"? I'd feel a tad better about "five bad days in June", but they haven't come close to that. Instead of quoting Madden, how about quoting Al Davis- just win, baby!

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | December 14, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

it's the trends that are concerning...trends that echo from last year's playoffs. No need to panic, but look a little deeper besides the losing streak.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 14, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ryan..

Your a smart guy, right??


See a little pattern here, Ryan, my boy?? You think the masses are pissed now? Wait till EPIC FAIL 2011 which is coming. And you sir, being brilliant, want to stand pat? Don't want you running my business, dude.

Posted by: rdondero123 | December 14, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Suck It, Ryan Cooper!

Posted by: djdavew2002 | December 14, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Well.........Until now I had found the Box Seats discussion threads as being more thoughtful and reasoned; less hyperbolic and attitudinal. In general a more curteous and collegial discussion than what is typically found posted to the articles and on the Insider.

Apparently I am wrong about this as well. C'est la vie.

Posted by: prestoj | December 14, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding not as good as we look right now?? We are winning with 2 guys right now Crosby and Fleury...wait till we get Staal and Malkin back. You guys have Backstrom, Semin, Green, etc to back up Ovie we have Kunitz and Talbot to back up Crosby over this streak...come on now let's face it the Pens are better and know how to win, have a recent cup to prove it too with 2 final trips over last 3 years, until you guys win the big one you might want to just face facts that we are better...not as good as we look PLEASE!!!

Posted by: pensfan87 | December 14, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

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