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Posted at 7:31 AM ET, 01/14/2011

Acting fast a must for Capitals

By Gene Wang

Known last season for scoring early and then frequently piling on thereafter, the Washington Capitals have been struggling to regain that winning formula over their past three games, when each time the opponent has taken the lead in the first period.

Washington is 1-1-1 over that stretch, with the losses coming consecutively to Florida and Tampa Bay. In both those games, the Panthers and Lightning captured 2-0 leads and went on to win, 4-3 in overtime and 3-0, respectively.

Following an optional practice yesterday morning, Capitals players referred to their sluggish beginnings to games as among the primary culprits for this modest losing streak that could expand to three in a row if they don't come out with ferocity tonight against Vancouver.

The Canucks have the most points in the NHL and have beaten Washington in three of the teams' last four meetings.

"It doesn't matter what team we're playing. Our first-period performance has to be addressed," center Brooks Laich said. "But you know what? We haven't lost our identity. We're an attack team that puts people on their heels and plays downhill hockey and keeps coming, and we haven't shown that the last maybe month, but we want to get back to that."

The last time the Capitals were able to play that style of hockey was during a 3-0 victory over Montreal on Dec. 28, when Jay Beagle and Mike Green both scored in the first period. One game later in the Winter Classic, Washington fell behind Pittsburgh by a goal before rallying for a 3-1 win at Heinz Field, and pretty much ever since, the Capitals have fallen into a pattern of playing from a deficit.

Trailing may not have been much of an issue last season, when the Capitals didn't mind winning games by scores of 6-5 and the like. This season, as they undergo a transformation into a more defensive-minded club, recouping deficits no longer comes as naturally.

Thus the emphasis is on getting the lead and forcing opponents into mistakes when they begin to press a bit too much for goals.

"There's obviously a few different reasons," forward Matt Hendricks said of the team's recent penchant for starting slow. "Obviously preparation might be one. I'm just speculating preparation. We're not as players doing what we need to do to get ready for the start of the game."

Should the Capitals fail in that preparation for Vancouver, circumstances could become unmanageable in relatively short time. The Canucks are second in the NHL in total goals, and forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin can strike quickly and often. Each has 55 points, tied for third most in the league.

Vancouver was 14-0-3 before losing to the New York Rangers last night, 1-0. It was the first regulation loss for the Canucks since Dec. 5.

"We have to be at the top of our game or we're going to get our butts handed to us, is basically what it is," Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We seem to be able to get up for those kind of teams. I think we'll be able to do the same thing again."

By Gene Wang  | January 14, 2011; 7:31 AM ET
Categories:  Brooks Laich, Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, Mike Green, Vancouver Canucks  
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Next: Tyler Sloan assigned to Hershey for conditioning stint

Comments

Knowing what to do and actually doing it are completely different things.

These guys always talk a good game but how often do they actually do what they preach??

Posted by: joek443 | January 14, 2011 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Too much talking, not enough playing. Just not sure about this team this year, obviously the money players aren't delivering. Other than that something else seems to be missing also...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 14, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Anyone think Semin isn't really hurt that bad and is possibly part of a trade? The hit just didn't look like it could do that much damage...then again looks can be decieving.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Watching the Flyers-Bruins game last night, who couldn't love the "staged" bout between Shelley-Thornton their first shift on the ice? Talk about setting a tone early, waking up the benches and the stands! Listening to Brad Marchand after the game, he acknowledged Thornton's efforts and spoke about how intense and playoff-like the game felt. He credited the fight w/making sure everyone was prepared to fight tooth-and-nail for 60 minutes.

Why don't the Caps ever engage in such tactics? Is it just too beneath our prima donna players to send a message early in the game? It boggles my mind that BB has been unable to put aside DJK's shortcomings and mine what he can do to benefit the team.

Vancouver lost a tough 1-0 game last night in MSG, we were home resting. Will the real Caps team please stand-up and be counted tonight?

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 14, 2011 8:15 AM | Report abuse

It is weird that the Canucks wwent with their back up against NYR and will then probably use Luongo against us...I mean it is like teams still consider us an offensive threat...kinda annoying. And teams still put their best players and most coverage on Ovie...it's like no team wants to be the one that lets the Caps break out.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I think Matt Hendricks comments were pretty telling. I mean as much as folks say its not a big deal to be at an optional skate, these players need to be held more accountable. Have some pride...try to right the ship, instead of going out partying...lots shots vodkha?

Posted by: OVIHtrick8 | January 14, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Trade Mike Green!

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 14, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The coaching staff should not have "optional" practices the way this team has been playing unless they have played four games in five nights or something like that. This team is completely discombobulated on the ice right now and Ovechkin and Backstrom have looked horrible. Time is finally running short on BB, I can feel it!

Posted by: PhilR | January 14, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

So Caps need to make sure their cups are fastened securely against the Canucks, b/c Burrows literally punched Staal in the nuts last night.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Ted recently said that any talk of firing BB is INSANE...he is the winningest coach int he NHL since he came in.

If I were really going to blame someone it would be GMGM more...how many teams get the cup without a second line center! Add to that two rookie defensemen (granted they are playing well now).

Backstrom concerns me way more than Ovie...at least Ovie is getting chances...no thanks to Backie. I love both of them, and I really think they can slump like this for only so long, but Backstrom has got to start helping out...even his D has been bad lately.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

capscoach,

How many times have you heard an owner of a sports team say that a coach is safe or that there is no way a player will be traded and the next day the coach is gone or the player is traded in a blockbuster deal? I know in my forty some years I have seen just that scenario play out on numerous occassions.

Posted by: PhilR | January 14, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Read Brooksie's comments on optional skates a few posts back. Made me much more comfortable with Ovi missing these.

Last season - up to the playoffs at least - it seemed like the Caps were catching every lucky break imaginable. The bounces were all going there way, there were no major prolonged injuries and all the stars were playing like stars. This year seems to be the exact opposite - all the bounces are going against us, we've never had all of our top players on the ice at the same time and the stars are playing like good but not great hockey players. And yet look at where we are - tied for 5th in the standings and 4 pts behind 1st.

There's a lot about this team that worries me. But look at teams that went deep the last few years - Pitt 2 years ago, Philly last year - both struggled in the regular season, picked it up toward the end, and peaked in the playoffs. Last year we came out with a bang, coasted into the playoffs and went home way too early. Honestly if we can work our way through the injuries, illnesses and slumps and still come out with a decent record and some good momentum coming into the playoffs I think we'll be in a much better place than we were last year.

I think the Vancouver game tonight has more importance than your average regular season game. A win tonight would be a big boost to morale and could spark a late season surge at just about the right time. A blowout loss could demoralize the team and send us back into another long losing streak.

Posted by: psujohn | January 14, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

So you are serious about golf are you? Are you one of those guys who call in rules violations and gets a DQ from a tourney? You just strike me as that type.

Posted by: pebowers | January 14, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

@psujohn

agreed!

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Sluggish starts begins and ends with a combination of bad stuff like coaching, players unfit and not prepared, and bad defense.
For example, changing lines wont change the bad beginnigs of games coach B you need to demand all players to come to practice no optional skates and actually coach! Rumors has it that OV is overweight and thats effecting his play. Semin and Poti are always hurt..need to trade these two scrubs! Green has a couple of good games and disappears! Backstorm has completely disappeared after inking a new contract!

Posted by: alfredkogan | January 14, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I agree the Caps need to beat Vancouver tonight to make a statement, but if they are getting shutout by the likes of Roloson, what do they expect to do against goalies like Luongo? That guy is WAY better than Roloson. Yeah, it's worthwhile to be concerned.

This team has not been shutout more than ~2 times the last 3 years. What has it been this year already, four? This year is very off.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | January 14, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Ok...you do realize that the Caps have 4 games in about five days! I don't care how badly the played against TB (pretty darn bad)...players need days off or they will just get worse...I get the whole "run em till they drop attitude), but if it were that simple it would have been done.

I also had never considered what Brooks said...a lot of the players that go to morning skates or optional practices are guys that get scratched or only play 10 minutes or so a game...it is not as black and white as some of you want to believe it is.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

It is that black and white when this team is playing the way it is!! The stars have sucked for the majority of the season and that screams getting on the ice and working on your skill set. They have four games in six days not five during this stretch and after that abysmal performance against Tampa that practice yesterday should have been mandatory with a day off tomorrow prior to Sunday afternoon's game.

Posted by: PhilR | January 14, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I disagree, the Caps had two days off before they played Florida and they came out flat. In years past, this team has excelled when they played a lot of games and on the road. This year, not so much.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | January 14, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

and when these players get injured b/c of overplaying or not resting minor injuries then it will still be worth it...PLEASE!

You want to act out of anger and frustration...which is why you are not a teacher or professional coach. You have no clue what these players are doing to prepare or not prepare...and you don't know what is best for them. The trainers and coaches are far more knowledgable...and you act like if you were in charge the team would be fixed in a week...it is just NOT THAT SIMPLE!

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

and when these players get injured b/c of overplaying or not resting minor injuries then it will still be worth it...PLEASE!

You want to act out of anger and frustration...which is why you are not a teacher or professional coach. You have no clue what these players are doing to prepare or not prepare...and you don't know what is best for them. The trainers and coaches are far more knowledgable...and you act like if you were in charge the team would be fixed in a week...it is just NOT THAT SIMPLE!

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

@pebowers

Yup, I can bring it on the links just as good as I bring it on these threads ;) That the PGA entertains phone calls from spectators is a discredit to the sport.

Because I've got no problem saying it as I see it (and in the process make posters like yourself feel uncomfortable), I'm not sure how that translates into being a tattle-tail.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 14, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

PhilR: If you still have my email address drop me a line. There are a few games I have to miss so I'd like to put them in the hands of someone that would appreciate it.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 14, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Pre Hockey Independent:

Regarding Ovechkin’s work ethic; unless you are physically training with Ovechkin, you can’t really say whether or not his work ethic is up to snuff or not. All we can go by is the words of those who go through the grind alongside him. Not one Caps’ player or coach has been outspoken in a negative way regarding his work ethic. Nobody can deny his craving for a Stanley Cup and his competitive spirit. Ovechkin is on a mission every night to win and to win big. Very few forwards in the league today throw their weight around like he does. The 136 hits he’s thrown thus far certainly takes on a toll on his body. Along with that are the 20-25 minutes he plays every night. No player can sustain that over the course of an 82 game schedule without putting his work in off the ice.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Never said I could fix teh team in a week. And capscoach, I really hate to tell you but read the majority of the posts lately and you will see that your opinion is pretty much now that of the minority here. Things aren't all peaches and cream with this team and a more disciplined approach needs to be taken at this point but obviously you just don't want to see it.

And why do you always go to the "which is why you are not a teacher" comments? I have seen plenty of teachers in my day that would scream and yell and they got their point across the same as those who adopted the approach you seem to have. Also, I am a professional that has to deal with the public on a daily basis and have to practice my fair share of restraint so your argument really holds zero water here.

Posted by: PhilR | January 14, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Pre Hockey Independent:

Regarding Ovechkin’s work ethic; unless you are physically training with Ovechkin, you can’t really say whether or not his work ethic is up to snuff or not. All we can go by is the words of those who go through the grind alongside him. Not one Caps’ player or coach has been outspoken in a negative way regarding his work ethic. Nobody can deny his craving for a Stanley Cup and his competitive spirit. Ovechkin is on a mission every night to win and to win big. Very few forwards in the league today throw their weight around like he does. The 136 hits he’s thrown thus far certainly takes on a toll on his body. Along with that are the 20-25 minutes he plays every night. No player can sustain that over the course of an 82 game schedule without putting his work in off the ice.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Your first period, second period and third period performances need to be addressed.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 14, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

It was just a thought. I figure if your ready to call out the coaching staff at any opportunity you might be ready to call out a Tour official as well. I also figured that since you are always willing to point out any mistake made by Caps players you dont care for the same might hold true for golfers you dont like. Again, just a thought.

Posted by: pebowers | January 14, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

fanohock,

I still have the yahoo address but I thought you said you were going to close that account out a while back? Thanks for the opportunity but please do not feel obligated as I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there that can pay much more than I can currently to see a game.

Posted by: PhilR | January 14, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

It was just a thought. I figure if your ready to call out the coaching staff at any opportunity you might be ready to call out a Tour official as well. I also figured that since you are always willing to point out any mistake made by Caps players you dont care for the same might hold true for golfers you dont like. Again, just a thought.

Posted by: pebowers | January 14, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The only variables in tonight's loss are the number of times Ovechkin breaks his stick by swinging and dribbling the puck toward the net, shoots wide of the net, dives attempting to draw a penalty to get the worst power play in the league on the ice. It's like he is auditioning for a clown's role in the Moscoe Circus LOL!

Posted by: dull | January 14, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I think this team is going to come out and play really hard tonight against VAN, they very well could win, and if they lose you won't feel like it was because they weren't trying. I also feel like it will "mean" nothing.

I'm noticing a pattern where this team can only get up for "Big" games, games against "Big" opponents, the WC etc. I predict if we win tonight, it will have exactly as much of a lasting effect.

The problem is that relying on external motivation is a very unreliable way to go about things, there needs to be internal motivational for *every* game. You need to be motivated when you play the division leader, even if that team is "just* the Bolts.

I think not being able to motivate players is a big fault of the coaching staff, and to a lesser extent the team captains.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 14, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I don't think everything is all peaches and cream! You are blind to my criticisms of the Caps! Let me SPELL THEM OUT FOR YOU!

-We have no second line center
-Ovie has lost speed
-Backstrom is invisible
-Caps need to be more consistent..esp. in front of the net
-BB needs to stop changing lines every five minutes
-Semin is a head case and should not be signed for more than 6 mil for 2-3 years
-That was a TERRIBLE game against TB...couldn't even finish watching it...no effort!

That is a few of my issues with the team right now. Just b/c I don't call for radical changes every time a team struggles doesn't mean I think all is well. If things don't work out this season, I think a coaching change might help.

What I hate though is that you pretend to know what these players are thinking and you judge them as people with no real knowledge of them beyond what you see and hear on the ice. I have no problem with people who think we need a coaching change, but stop pretending that BB doesn't know anything...he rose up the ranks for a reason and has a very good record! One playoff debacle is not a huge thing...hate to break it to you, but the Pens were just better than us in that playoff series! We got to 7 games against the Cup champs! nothing to be ashamed of there.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Rule of Thumb: The Caps get up for games against teams above them in the standings and more often than not win them. Against teams they're supposed to beat, not so much.

So let's keep pushing for that 8th seed, boys. Just be careful you don't overshoot the mark.

Posted by: kbash33 | January 14, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Let's be honest. Nobody (especially BB) can figure out this team. Yelling doesn't work. Being nice doesn't work. Hard practices don't work. Optional practices don't work. Sometimes there is no right answer. If the heart isn't there, you can't create it. That doesn't mean everybody is like that, but if half the team thinks one way and the other half another...then there's a problem. Usually that problem results in an "okay" record and an early exit to the season.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 14, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"Watching the Flyers-Bruins game last night, who couldn't love the "staged" bout between Shelley-Thornton their first shift on the ice? Talk about setting a tone early, waking up the benches and the stands! Listening to Brad Marchand after the game, he acknowledged Thornton's efforts and spoke about how intense and playoff-like the game felt. He credited the fight w/making sure everyone was prepared to fight tooth-and-nail for 60 minutes."

If a fight wakes up both teams then it is basically meaningless as it effects both teams equally. No team receives an advantage from it.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 14, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

capscoach is not alone in her optimistic assessment. She has been a lone voice on here often and she makes good arguments for her point of view. I don't often find the time to post as she does, but agree with her sentiment more often than not.

It is easy to sit behind a computer and say that the team is not working hard enough and that there should not be optional practices or skates. I, like capscoach leave it to the professionals to determine those things. Just because a player is not on the ice doesn't mean they are not there working on other things. We are not privy to all or enough of the facts to fairly assess things like work ethic.

Posted by: _Mark | January 14, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Look capscoach, I never said that BB doesn't know anything.....What I have been saying is that he has lost the team which at least half of the posters who come on here are saying. It happens to every NHL coach at some point, why do you think that the average coaching tenure in the NHL is three years? It is better to make the change now and get more of a disciplanarian in here and give him three months to implement his system. I (slong with many others) just feel that BB has taken this team as far as he can and to just throw away this season would be foolish IMHO.

Posted by: PhilR | January 14, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Mark! Lucky for me today, I am subbing for a two hour exam block...kids are all taking a test for a couple hours and I am just babysitting right now :)

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

and that is a valid opinion...but stop acting like I never have a negative thing to say about the team :) It's not true.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

And now you all get a break from me :) My next few classes have no exams and I actually have to go teach :)

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

"Trailing may not have been much of an issue last season, when the Capitals didn't mind winning games by scores of 6-5 and the like."

I'm not sure I agree that trailing wasn't an issue last year. I think it was a dark spectre that hung over the team but that was ignored by the team and many fans and analysts because they kept coming back from early deficits. I recall becoming rather concerned during the 14-game winning streak about how often the Caps were giving up early leads, seemingly secure in the idea that they could turn it on for the third period, or perhaps for the last 30 minutes of the game, and use their superior offensive firepower to win. Certainly it worked for a while (especially during that winning streak), but the worry was what would happen when they COULDN'T overcome the deficits? My worry was that the Caps seemed overconfident in their ability to come back and that they were too nonchalant about the bad habit of falling behind. Obviously, that worry proved justified over the last month of the regular season and the all-too-brief playoff appearance.

This year's team seems different somehow, but not in a good way--it seems more as though they've developed the same bad habit but have no idea of how to reach to it. It's been a while since I thought the Caps looked as sloppy and disorganized as they did last month during the eight-game winless streak (not "losing streak") or on Wednesday night. But I think "kcbrichmond" said it right--who knows what the problem is?

The Caps' habit of falling behind and then rallying to overcome it (or failing to do so, as is the case this year) reminds me of a lot of Duke basketball teams over the years. Duke's teams traditionally throw up a lot of three-point shots, which are obviously low-percentage shots for the most part. They usually make a lot of them and it works out well, but when they fail to make those shots, it's usually a bad sign. A basketball team that puts a lot of faith in low-percentage shots, regardless of its players' skill at making those shots, is similar in a lot of ways to a hockey team that doesn't worry about falling behind early because they figure they can fire a lot of pucks on net later in the game and enough of them will go in.

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 14, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Thank goodness.

Posted by: rblatch45 | January 14, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

@pebowers

I don't know if there's a golfer I don't like, but there are certainly players and a coach on the Caps that I don't like. I'm as critical as I am of the team because we're going nowhere fast, and the freeloaders and pacifists on the team operate with impunity because the coach despises old-school hockey (in addition to creating a caste-system within the team.)

I look forward to the day when I can sound like capscoach and confidently speak of the team in glowing terms. It ain't gonna happen while BB is still coaching.....

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 14, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The Caps' habit of falling behind and then rallying to overcome it (or failing to do so, as is the case this year) reminds me of a lot of Duke basketball teams over the years. Duke's teams traditionally throw up a lot of three-point shots, which are obviously low-percentage shots for the most part. They usually make a lot of them and it works out well, but when they fail to make those shots, it's usually a bad sign. A basketball team that puts a lot of faith in low-percentage shots, regardless of its players' skill at making those shots, is similar in a lot of ways to a hockey team that doesn't worry about falling behind early because they figure they can fire a lot of pucks on net later in the game and enough of them will go in.

Posted by: 1995hoo

Duke did win the National Championship last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 14, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

If there were a Tour player or players you didnt care for would you be so fast to criticize their actions on the course?

Posted by: pebowers | January 14, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Duke did win the National Championship last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 14, 2011 10:25 AM

I know, and since I got my J.D. there, I quite enjoyed it. But my comment wasn't referring specifically to last year's Duke team--it was referring to how their teams often take lots of low-percentage shots but win anyway because most of the time they make them. Last year the Caps won in spite of the bad habit of falling behind all the time. This year, that bad habit has bitten them on the rear.

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 14, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

PhilR: crazyboutcaps@yahoo.com is a good address for me. Drop me a line and I'll send you dates of games that I can't get to. Cost is negotiable and will be very reasonable.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 14, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are going to get their butts handed to them tonight.

Prediction: Nucks 6, Caps 0

I miss the old team.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | January 14, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

It is weird that the Canucks wwent with their back up against NYR and will then probably use Luongo against us...I mean it is like teams still consider us an offensive threat...kinda annoying. And teams still put their best players and most coverage on Ovie...it's like no team wants to be the one that lets the Caps break out.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse
=======

Good post. I wonder about this too. Did you notice in 24/7 HBO Caps/Pens series how Disco Dan talked about the Caps being an attack team and how they would bring their defense up? Did Dan not read the memo on the Caps for the last 3 or so months?

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | January 14, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

It is weird that the Canucks wwent with their back up against NYR and will then probably use Luongo against us...I mean it is like teams still consider us an offensive threat...kinda annoying. And teams still put their best players and most coverage on Ovie...it's like no team wants to be the one that lets the Caps break out.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse
=======

Good post. I wonder about this too. Did you notice in 24/7 HBO Caps/Pens series how Disco Dan talked about the Caps being an attack team and how they would bring their defense up? Did Dan not read the memo on the Caps for the last 3 or so months? Pretty clueless scouting report on the Caps if you ask me.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | January 14, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I regret more and more the Caps naming OV as captain. Great player, but not a captain. Part of me thinks he was only named captain because Crosby was up in Pitt and no one wanted that disparity to exist as a point of criticism for OV as in "how can he be the best player in the league when he isnt even captain of his team"....personally, I thin Brooks would make a better captain. Aside from that, is it completely lost on BB that this new "system" has completely destroyed this team's ability to have any type of offensive flow whatsoever? Anytime we enter the O zone we look like 5 guys who have never played with each other, no sense of what we are trying to do, completely disjointed effort. If we are lucky and someone doesnt break a stick or turn the puck over, we might get one shot into the belly of the goalie with no rebound before the other team takes possession and exits the zone. BB won a Calder Cup and the Pres Trophy with what he was doing last year, with alot of these same players, and yet now it is suddenly the wrong way to play hockey in favor of this ridiculous attempt to make ourselves in the Devils of years past. Two problems with that, 1) we are NEVER going to have the defensive skill players the Devils had and 2) last time I looked we dont have a Brodeur in his prime. We are what we are. So we have gone from an up tempo offensive system with very skilled players to a dump and chase trap system with players not suited to play it. So the question is, would you rather go down doing what you do best and which plays to your abilities, or go down playing a system your abilities wont allow you to succeed in. I think through 44 games he results speak for themselves. If we fail this year, Ive already heard that next year BB's "new" system is going to involve playing both Varly and Neuvy in goal at the same time, and one less forward, in an effort to take away more of the open net....personally I think that system makes more sense than the one we're playing now....

Posted by: opticlguy | January 14, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

You can emphasize and focus on defense without playing a Devil's style trap. A bunch of teams in this league do it. You are creating a false choice.

BB's system emphasizes offense at the expense of Defense. The Devils trap emphasizes defense at the expense of offense.

Most really successful teams can execute on both ends of the ice without having to sacrifice play at the other.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 14, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

It is weird that the Canucks wwent with their back up against NYR and will then probably use Luongo against us...I mean it is like teams still consider us an offensive threat...kinda annoying. And teams still put their best players and most coverage on Ovie...it's like no team wants to be the one that lets the Caps break out.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Teams aren't concerned about being the one that Ovechkin breaks out against. They play him the way they play him because so far this season it has worked. What's that old adage? If it isn't broke don't fix it?

Posted by: jcreech1 | January 14, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

capscoach: We are a better team than the Rangers, period. You play your number one against the better team always! You may argue that at right now it is closer, but if you had to decide which team could have an offensive explosion it is the Caps everytime. Even with backup in net, the Nucks gave up 1 goal. and of course teams roll coverage to Ovi, who wouldn't and which team wants to be the team to let the Caps break out of their slump? That is a terrible post, you make yourself sound like a 12 year old.

Posted by: penscapsNOTarivalry | January 14, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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