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Posted at 10:58 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Poll: Is it time to panic about the Caps?

By Lindsay Applebaum

Is the Capitals' four-game skid reason to worry about the big picture, or is it just a winter slump that's better off happening now than in the playoffs? Reactions in our comments so far have been across the board, so let's take an unofficial poll:

If there is a bigger issue at hand, what is it? Weigh in using the comments section below.


Practice is underway at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, but five players -- Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, John Carlson and Boyd Gordon -- aren't skating because they have the flu, according to a team spokesman.

By Lindsay Applebaum  | December 10, 2010; 10:58 AM ET
 
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Next: Flu bug hits the Capitals

Comments

no, it's not panic time. yes, there's a problem.

it would be panic time if there were not enough time left in the season to work the problem out.

Posted by: j762 | December 10, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The FLU....that's going to be our excuse now.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | December 10, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Can it be safe to assume the "problem here" is just the flu? Those are 5 key players on this team trying to play while ill. Have they been sick all four games the Caps lost? Most likely not; however, could the flu be the reason why they were unable to snap the losing skid? Probably. A team that is unsure of itself gets sick... that most likely won't create a winning streak!

Nothing to panic about right now. All we need is OV to start scoring again and Schultz/Erskine to get healthy and we'll be rolling.

Posted by: Siikonen-FIN- | December 10, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Hot goalies and sinus infections, lol

More like a coach who cannot get his players to buy into his system consistently. Knubs comments speaks of a disgruntled team and lockerroom

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Yes as stated by previous comment there is time to fix things so not panicing quite yet. In way I am almost glad there are issues now. But I think there is a problem and it seems to be mental. I am tired of hearing the Caps need to learn from this, learn from that. Things keep repeating over and over and over again. Either the players are not receiving the message loud enough or are not willing to or able to change their habits. That is troubling.

Posted by: alagarts | December 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I blame "the flu" on the medical staff. If it is the seasonal flu, or influenza A or B, the whole team and staff should have been vaccinated in Sept or Oct. Working in such small and cramped quarters, the vaccination should be mandatory unless they are other mitigating factors.
If it's the stomach flu, then I guess, but they should change the places they eat or how it is stored.
With that, get well soon. If the team needs a occupational health nurse, hit me up. The flu, really?!

Posted by: nicety251 | December 10, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

panic button? no

how bout hitting the "let's revisit our philosophy on what it takes to win" button.


anyone heard this tune before?--

"We know our strengths," said Ovechkin, who took five shots. "When we play simple, when we do what we have to do, it works. When we play casual, it doesn't work."

The Caps will regroup. Their top 6 fwds will play harder. Then the goals will come. Then they'll slack off again and bad habits will creep back in and blah blah blah.

For their sake lets hope this entirely predictable cycle is on its way up rather than down come April. I don't want to hear about how this great team hit a bad stretch that just happened to coincide with the playoffs. Prolly the single worst excuse I've ever heard to explain away a playoff loss. The fact that it was the GM who said it makes it even more inexcusable.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Yes, there's a problem. BB's number one priority was building better habits going in to this season and so far that hasn't happened. At all. Well, maybe except PK which is canceled out by a terrible PP. I genuinely believe that he is losing this team because by now, they should have been a marked and consistent improvement in closing out games, power play and general discipline.

Posted by: jakopz | December 10, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"Five bad days," eh cstanton?

Katie should have just titled the three groups, Dark Siders, Fence Sitters and Kool-Aid drinkers.

I'm with the Dark Siders on this one. I'm ready to throw in the towel with Boudreau. I believe McPhee should go behind the bench Saturday and Sunday night and then see if he can get a disciplinarian in as coach.

Ted Nolan? Hasn't he been gone from hockey a really long time?

Larry Robinson? Maybe.

RJ Umberger as player/coach?

If you can't beat em, join em.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I think it is pretty simple. We don't have as much depth at forward as we think. After ovi, backstrom, semin and maybe laich (albeit at a slower pace), no one can really score consistently.

We need a strong second line center and we need role players to step up.

There will be games when the young guns get shut down. When we were on that winning streak last year or at the end of the 07-08 season to make the playoffs, Bradley, Fehr, Flash, Gordo or Stecks would step up...I haven't seen a lot of that this year.

Posted by: Cherno | December 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

SA-Town wrote:
"Read some of the blog entries on Flyers boards a year ago. No one was saying they were going to the Cup, in fact they were awful...chill out people...last year was a dream...an unreal regular season...these boys need to lose some games...they need to enter the playoffs as just another team with a shot at the cup...that will get them going."

Ok, I agree somewhat. But, the Flyers did not win it all. They lost in 6. Yes, it was a helluva run. But, the ultimate prize is the Cup and if you think losing at home 3-0 to the Panthers in December is "nothing to worry about", or that "everyone has a slump", then you are mistaken. Yes, teams lose. Yes, teams lose to inferior opponents. But, when it's SO glaring that it just looks like the "leaders" on the team don't care, well then you have an issue. It goes back to last year in the playoffs. It was so obvious what the problems were. No one wanted to get dirty. NO one wanted to risk their pretty little face or body and block and stand in the traffic areas. They thought SKILL alone would win them a Cup (and that they would sweep every opponent on their way to that Cup). Well, they were wrong. And, since that point, nothing has really changed. There is an arrogance on this team that they can beat you by 6 goals and look pretty doing it. Not the case. From BB on down, this is a problem.

Posted by: SuperZ3383 | December 10, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I've been quiet all year, but there is a problem. It's not the 4 game losing streak. It's not that Ovie isn't scoring at the pace we're used to or that the top forwards didn't show up last night. It's not even that this team rarely shows up for 60 minutes.

The problem is that they are not getting better, nor are they showing any signs whatsoever that last year wasn't good enough.

He's a fine D man, I supposes, but does anyone really think Scott Hannan makes us a noticeably better hockey team?

We'll win the division because of talent alone. We may even win another President's Cup for the same reason.

But what this teams really needs to improve is a coach who holds players accountable and who can make adjustments when things aren't going well.

Love Gabby -- but he is not that coach. He's a one note guy. And that note is becoming more off key every night.

Posted by: sinbin | December 10, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"We know our strengths," said Ovechkin, who took five shots. "When we play simple, when we do what we have to do, it works. When we play casual, it doesn't work."

Do something about it instead of whining to the media and making commercials!!!!! You have the "C" on your chest. In North America, the captain of an ice hockey team is a honor not to be taken lightly or for granite. If you can't lead your team mates then turn in your "C". If team mates are being lazy or not playing together or whatever get in their face, if you are being lazy or not playing together or whatever get in your own face.
You have the "C" this is your team and responsibility!!!!!!!!!!!!! No more excuses -just freaking play hard!!

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | December 10, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

i'm enjoying this stretch. When the Caps lose games now, it makes them more aware of what it takes to win. And as mentioned, there's time before the playoffs to fix it. Whether they know how to fix or tweak things or whether they'll take the right lessons away from a minor stretch like this and take them to heart...I'd say the odds are less than 50-50 that'll happen. But adversity is good. If they coasted thru the reg season then they end up thinking they're better than they really are. And that usually translates into slackerville on the ice.

It also keeps McPhee on his toes. More pressure on him to be an active trading partner.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

BTW, coaching against the Caps right now has to be the easiest job in sports.

1) Keep a third man high (like Johansson was used to in Sweden) to prevent odd man breaks.
2) Clog the slot when back on D.
3) By all means cover the back door.
4) Wait for Caps to flub up on O and use your own 2 on 1s to score.

Voila! A victory!

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 10, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Well, if the problem last year was winning came too easy, nobody seemed able to stop them during the regular season, and it was terrible rehearsal for the playoffs because it didn't indicate how teams would approach a Caps or Penguins type offensive team in the playoffs... then, all this adversity now could be a good thing.

That's if they ever snap out of the addiction to pretty passes, curl'n'drags and behind-the-back passing; and if they ever learn to play 60 minutes of hockey, fight to get to the front of the net etc. The first 45-50 minutes against Toronto was excellent, now it feels like the fact from the disastrous finish carried over.

Posted by: blackjack65 | December 10, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

They need a Dave Tippett style coach. Their offense will still be there.
Gunslinging hockey may be more entertaining, but if you can not back it up with good defense you lose.(See last year's cup winners)
Teams have figured out how to beat them now, and every team can forecheck them and capitalize on their numerous turnovers.
They are embarrassing to watch, and you have to blame the coaching style and the undisciplined offensive players.

Posted by: joepar703 | December 10, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Very rare case of Boudreauinfluenza (known by it's common name Goat Flu). According to scientists it can be caused by being ice cold and in some cases drinking Goat's Blood. Treatment involves Advil and intravenous doses of Kool Aid 3 times daily.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 10, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@sinbin

agreed for the most part. I've been a BB backer since he got here, but something has to give. He isn't getting his players up for games and it shows. I was using last nights game as a test to see if they would respond to giving the Leafs the game on Monday and they failed.

The one disagreement is with Scott Hannan. I do see a difference. He is the type of guy we need and have been wanting for years

Posted by: _stevo | December 10, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Really? It's already time to panic? Look, despite Ovie's "slump" he's 3rd in the league in points. Despite the Caps' slump we're still the 3rd best team in the league.

Sure, there could be some concern with how this team operates, especially on the PP and especially when we have one or two goal leads.

That being said I think it's easy to over-react to these small slumps. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to win every game like anyone else and we should win against teams like Florida and Toronto. I think that's why this slump is really being questioned because of the teams we're losing to.

But anyone who has watched this team for the last 3 or 4 seasons know they play down to their opponent. Also note, if we lose the Winter Classic the season is NOT a loss. That game on Jan. 1st is just another regular season game worth 2 points. So if we do go into Pittsburgh and lose DO NOT PANIC.

Posted by: Osfan092589 | December 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Maybe people are mentioning "running into a hot goalie again" because it's usually always the story with this team... and if it happens again in the playoffs, they'll just say it was a fluke and they "ran into a hot goalie."

Are we really running into hot goalies that often? or are we making them hot? i think it's the latter.

---------
it's not time to go insane but THERE are concerns....... just like i (and many other posters) had some leading up to the montreal series but many people said it was an overreaction and we were being negative.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 10, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

why did i capitalize there?....... so weird.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 10, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

being the 3rd best team means nothing. we were the best team last year in the reg. season. didn't do us any good.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 10, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I agree that no, it is not time to panic and yes there appears to be a problem.

Personally, I think they are suffering from a lack of motivation. IMO, these guys just want to get to the post-season and are just going through the regular season motions. I believe that last years fabulous regular season followed by the horrific post-season were a real punch in their guts and they haven't completely recovered from it yet. I believe BB needs to send a very loud and clear message to the team. Other than a benching or two I don't have a suggestion but the action needs to be significant.

Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | December 10, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

BB never benches his superstars...never. he won't start now.

Posted by: doughless | December 10, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I realize that being 3rd means nothing. I was just simply stating that despite this slump we're still the 3rd best team points wise.

Posted by: Osfan092589 | December 10, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

They need a Dave Tippett style coach. Their offense will still be there

-------------

I wouldn't argue against Tippett. But if you look around the league this year, the coach who is doing the best job imo is Tippett's replacment - Marc Crawford. He's got Dallas working their tails off. Win or lose, you get a great effort almost every night from that Stars team. They VISIBLY hate to lose, and they exact a punishing price on the opposition. Reminds me of Ted Nolan's Sabres back in the day. Even when they're up by 2 or 3 goals late in a game they'll still put out a strong forecheck and play tight defensive hockey. You don't get many freebies with that team. I think if the Caps can ever get to that particular level of play is when this team can honestly talk about making a Cup run.

In the east, besides some of the obvious teams like the Penguins and Flyers, I like the way the Rags are put together. They're another hard team to play against and they put in the work. Tampa's a pretender. They don't put in the work. I think the Caps can take both Tampa and Montreal this yr in the playoffs if the current standings hold. The other teams we'll have a problem with incl Atlanta. Atlanta is not awestruck by us and they understand how to clog up our offensive style. They've really closed the gap from last yr.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

Is it safe to say you have no teaching experience? It is easy to say...go get a disciplinarian (it's working out so well for the Rangers) As someone with a lot of teaching experience, may I just say that is a bad idea! Especially mid season.

Sure...get a disciplinarian, then get ready for the players to shut down and stick their head in the sand (or ice I guess).

You can't just come onto a team and lay down the law...you have to build a relationship with your charges and create a better working environment with very high expectations (of yourself and them)

What might work is to have BB, Woods, GMGM, AND Ted hold a meeting together.

I realize I will get bashed for this post, but I can almost guarantee that this team (or really any) would not go far with a screaming coach that just threatened the team with benchings and tough practices...it has to be more than that.

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

capscoach:

if this was school maybe your approach has merit. If i am ted leonsis and paying the salaries he is paying, i am laying down the law. if the players can't handle it, well maybe they need to go. it is his money and he is paying big bucks.

Posted by: doughless | December 10, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I just read Ted's assessment of last night and he agrees with me. Honestly, I did not see this before giving my opinion above on the Caps.

"As I have noted every day, the regular season DOES matter. Every shift does matter. The hang over from the concept of only the playoffs matter is an issue for us. We can’t go through the motions. We can’t be casual and get through the regular season. We have to play with intensity. I know it is a long season but last night was a game that made me quite uncomfortable as I know many fans felt depressed with our performance as well."

Ted Leonsis

Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | December 10, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone else tired of seeing the lines change up every 20 seconds when the team is losing by more than one goal?

Could it be that there is an inconsistency between players because forwards are frequently trying to adapt to having different line mates three times a period?

Why is there panic the first second things go wrong? Remember Laich-Backs-Ov? Did they not have 2-3 great games in a row only to be broken up when things became a little tough?

I haved always loved BB. I like his interviews (or used to anyways) and he took this team out of the dumps and for that I am happy. But these questions, and many more, can be applied directly to his coaching style. As many people have said it has not worked the past three years when it matters, and at least 25 of the Caps 30 games this year have been pretty far from Stanley Cup calibre.

It is easy to rely on a 159-65-31 regular season record as a reason to keep him around, but he is 25-27 when it matters, with no indication that things are going to get better.

Posted by: Aldred15 | December 10, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Bruce's biggest issue as a motivator is he doesn't hold his players accountable for bad play during a win streak. That's why those bad habits eventually start leading to losing streaks. Tom Poti can make numerous flubs defensively but if he gets his 2 or 3 assists then he's a rock star. Ditto with Mike Green in past yrs.

The other big issue in general is this team doesn't know how to play lockdown defensive hockey when they're leading in a game. They still give up odd man breaks when they're up in the 3rd. I just don't see that kind of play from some of the other teams in this league. The only way you're going to get good offensive chances in a tight game vs teams like the Pens, Flyers, Rags, Bruins etc is if you can break thru the neutral zone and set up the play or if you can dump and chase and win the battle for the puck. You're not going to get odd man rushes against those teams.

The Caps don't dump and chase well unless its Bradley or Hendricks doing the chasing. And the Caps give up too many neutral zone turnovers when trying to carry the puck into the off zone through a team that is just sitting back waiting for it. They're giving us the dump and chase option because they know its not our preferred style and we're not very good at it.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@Doughless

It's his money and he is a smart man...he won't just do something b/c he is angry...he will do what will work and get him the most return.

My students make me want to rip their little heads off sometimes...but that won't fix the problem (it will make me feel better though)

If I want a change and a return of say, better grades or behavior...I have to swallow my impulses and do whats best.

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"But anyone who has watched this team for the last 3 or 4 seasons know they play down to their opponent."

Posted by: Osfan092589

Yes, this team does play down to its opponent.... as if they've ever done anything in the playoffs to warrant playing down to opponents. they better know every team in the league is very capable of beating them. FloridaCapsFan said it best: "when things come easy, they're fine... when things get tough, they are not willing to put forth the effort needed to get things accomplished."

and i'm starting to get on the fire BB wagon... we need a coach who will hold players accountable. BB is too much of a friendly coach. and doing those dumb commercials don't help. i'd like to see if other coaches in the NHL are doing as many silly commercials as he is.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 10, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Thank God it's only the flu, and it isn't how Easton quit making their favorite sticks.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | December 10, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

come on, rachel, don't be a hater!! you don't just LUV the bird call commercial????

Posted by: doughless | December 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse


You can't just come onto a team and lay down the law...you have to build a relationship with your charges and create a better working environment with very high expectations (of yourself and them)

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

This is the NHL where players make wads of cash. It's their job to follow coach's orders. You're nothing more that an apologist, excuser, and enabler when you defend the team and BB. Get over it or get gone!!!

BB MUST GO!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

touche, Lloyd

Posted by: doughless | December 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It's not time to panic, it's not even time to worry.

If this were March, I might be worried. But right now? Not a bit.

We're 18-9, people, we're doing fine. Are there some things we can work on? For sure.

But it's pretty much just all about the playoffs.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

Hmm I appreciate your posts and enjoy them...but if you are a teacher, who is teaching your class when you are constantly posting :). Now wonder the youth of America is screwed. just messing with you.

Posted by: ThePat | December 10, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

capscoach - your approach takes away accountability. And if the players know they can coast thru games with some bad habits as long as the score ends up in our favor, where's their motivation to change? The coach has to set that bar higher, even in the middle of a winning streak.

On most nights, this isn't an uncomfortable team to play against. In the past, our speed and skill were a bigger advantage than it is now. Not that the speed and skill advantage really matters much anyway if you play a team like the Flyers who can negate that advantage with their own style of play.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@ Vermontcaps
DOES ANYONE REMEMBER BILLY SMITH WHACKING AWAY AT OUR GUYS’ ANKLES? Where’d that kind of hockey go?

Do you really believe that would work in "today's game"

Also I think we all get the man crush you have for the Sexy lumberjack.........

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 10, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm embarrassed that you're a Caps fan, as I am of many who post here. IF I DON'T POINT OUT WHAT ERSK DOES, NONE OF YOU IDIOTS WOULD BE AWARE OF HIS CONTRIBUTIONS. Would you, capsfannmiss, take him out of the lineup right now (if all were healthy?)

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I have two words: Craig MacTavish.

Posted by: vafan3 | December 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps BB should go with line ups consisting of players that play best together and let that chemistry build instead of disrupting chemistry w/constant line changes. What would those lines be?

Posted by: Realness1 | December 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

We're 18-9, people, we're doing fine. Are there some things we can work on? For sure.

---------------

lol, i can just picture this being the msg that the players get from their own coach.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@vermont

you know you can disagree with someone without being rude...it's not that hard...I have been doing it all day...give it a try!

The funny thin is, I spend most of my day griping about the Caps to friends and family, but I get on here and people throw things SO out of persepctive I feel obligated to represent the other side!

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

IF I DON'T POINT OUT WHAT ERSK DOES, NONE OF YOU IDIOTS WOULD BE AWARE OF HIS CONTRIBUTIONS.

--vcaps--

this idiot would :)

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

calm down...u are acting like u r about to have a nervous breakdown!

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

and people throw things SO out of persepctive I feel obligated to represent the other side!

Posted by: capscoach


what's out of perspective? what to you may seem like an overreaction is actually just an expression of longstanding frustration about watching this team go thru the same cycles without learning from it. No one's saying to fire Bruce just because of a 4 game losing streak. There is so much more that plays into that argument.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

If any of you who watch the Comcast pre-game show, Alan May makes a lot of good points when talking about how the Caps are breaking down in spots.

All in all, I still think the Caps are "soft." It just seems to me besides Knub's nobody wants to go in front of the net and distract the goalie. You just can't win like that.

Even "average" goalies in the NHL can block shots if they can see the puck coming.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 10, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Tominsocal that we are easy to coach against. However, BB knows what is wrong because he says it all the time. Too many shots from the perimeter without screens, tips, or just traffic for rebounds. We have players like Laich and Knuble who make a career out of it, but we need more of it from them and others. Our skilled players do get goals from great passing and catch the goalie out of position, but when things tighten up and disciplined teams who take away the passing lanes and allow the perimeter shots go through, we tend to have a very low shooting percentage. Crash the net and start playing like you will in the playoffs to see if we can do it. Right now teams have figured out how to play us. We need to give them something else to worry about.

Posted by: tomdchancar | December 10, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: doughless | December 10, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Not quite time to panic, but the book on how to beat this team definitely seems to be out. It's Boudreau's job to make adjustments other than just changing up lines to counteract what other teams are doing defensively. Every defense has a weakness, and it's the coach's job to figure that out and get his players to exploit it. If Boudreau can't do that, then I'm sorry but he needs to be replaced. I've been saying it since MTL last year. 4 playoff series, and I think he's been out-coached in all 4 of them. The only reason they beat the Rangers was based on player talent alone. I love Bruce, but when things don't go well, the only ace up his sleeve is the change lines. Not good enough, imo.

Posted by: walker_3000 | December 10, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait for the excuses that I know are coming during the after practice interviews. Hot goalie, we need to play the system, we need to play simple, blah, blah, blah......I'm simply sick of excuses!

Posted by: PhilR | December 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

All in all, I still think the Caps are "soft." It just seems to me besides Knub's nobody wants to go in front of the net and distract the goalie. You just can't win like that.

----------

they've been on the soft side for a long time. And firing Bruce probably won't change that. The only way that changes is bringing in a GM who likes tougher teams. And you don't have to bring in goons to make your team tougher either (disclaimer inserted so i can avoid reading the stereotypical response to that comment!).

I think the net presence on this team isn't nearly as bad anymore as it used to be. That's not where we fall short when compared to other teams. I think our own defensive net presence in our end is pretty bad. Our play along the boards is iffy and prevents us from playing a simpler but still effective game both defensively and offensively. You can't rely on just being able to be creative to maintain offensive zone opportunities, or using half-hearted stickchecks in the def zone to get the puck back. A lot of times you just have to run someone off the puck. And it has to be more than just guys named Brads and Hendricks and occasionally Ovy.

And our "on-ice meanness" factor is non-existent. That's a huge disparity between us and numerous other good teams.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The Thrashers and Panthers are just two recent examples of teams that have figured out the Caps system and play a style to minimize the number of good scoring opportunities. Part of it may be great goaltending, but a lot of it is that BB has not adjusted the offensive system since the meltdown in last year's playoffs.

He can call out the Caps top players like Ovie, Semin, Backstrom, Green, etc., but has anyone thought that Boudreau has taken this team as far as he can? Sometimes even a winning team needs a new voice brought into the locker room to add motivation (don't think that's the issue) or change strategy. I hate to mention Pittsburgh, but didn't the play much better with the same players after hiring Bylsma midseason two years ago and won the Stanley Cup? If the Caps don't right the ship by the trade deadline, I would try a new coach before trading any of the frontline players. The issue isn't the talent, but the letdowns in games where the Caps are ahead or are struggling.

Posted by: wizfan89 | December 10, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

The only excuse is that 6 of them have the flu. Positive news is they are going to have to call a player or two up from Hershey.

Posted by: ThePat | December 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I get what you are saying, but my observation of (what I believe is )people overreacting is also not based on this 4 game losing streak.

I also really just enjoy a good debate.

The truth is... I am incredibly frustrated with the Caps this season. They need more effort/killer instinct. They play a great period and then let is all slide down the toilet. BB MAY need to go (still think they should wait until next season though) Ovie is almost as big a head case this year as Semin. Green is off and I wish they would just sit him until he is REALLY healthy, we need more net prescence (and not just for 1 game after BB yells at them), I could go for some more grit as you have suggested...and well I will stop there for now.

All that said...things are not as bad as I feel some people on here make them out to be...and I also I love a good debate :)


@vermont
I think 90% of the people on here (inlcuding myself) are very happy with Erskine this season!

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Panic after losing four games???

You're not a real Caps fan if you don't go into a full scale panic mode after the Caps lose a faceoff...

Posted by: CapsNut | December 10, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

They have the talent, why is it not functioning together properly? If anything the pieces are improved, but we look a lot less solid this year than we did last year. The only people who seem to be performing consistently are the secondary players. Are the big money players morphing into prima donnas? Has BB lost his locker room, and is so much white noise to his players at this point? I know what a grind every season must be, but does this group really think they can just mail it in until the playoffs and then turn it on? Frankly, the two goalies are the only thing keeping them in games at this point. My biggest fear is if BB doesnt get this situation improved. The whole Caps "system" is his system for both the Bears and the Caps. When it works that that makes for great interchangeable parts. If he has to go, then the system gets blown up too. That's a major trauma.

Posted by: northvajim2 | December 10, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

And there seems to be a lot more people seeing that there needs to be a coaching change, to you all I would see thank god others are noticing. walker_3000 is absolutely right with his statement above, BB has been out coached in all four playoff series and has been unable to adapt. He is a one trick pony and can not or will not change his precious system that every team in the NHL now knows how to play against.

Posted by: PhilR | December 10, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The only reason they beat the Rangers was based on player talent alone
-----------

it definitely made it easier to beat em because we had a dramatically more talented team. But lets not forget the excellent defensive games that Jurcina, Ersine and Mo played in that series. Those 3 guys were critical to our success because they constantly hammered Ranger forwards who were trying to manufacture scoring chances by cycling the puck. When you can get your D to play very effective grinding hockey against a team that isn't creative in open space, in essence you have now countered their only strength which is to dump/chase and cycle the puck along the boards and try to generate a garbage goal.

And I thought our top 6 forwards did a decent job of working hard in that series. Kozlov really stepped up in that regard.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I think our own defensive net presence in our end is pretty bad
And our "on-ice meanness" factor is non-existent. That's a huge disparity between us and numerous other good teams.

Posted by: cstanton1


agreed (who knew that was possible!) only thing I would add is that the Caps keep coughing up the puck at the top of the blue line which prevents us from making a change and allows the other team to cycle the puck again, when if we had just cleared it out with slightly more effort they would not have gotten a second chance to score.

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Alright, everybody step off the ledge and come back inside. It's early, we're still in first by 6 points. We steamrolled everyone last year and where did that get us? We'll get it worked out, Bruce and George are smart people and we have alot of guys with pride and skill on this roster.

Posted by: jmontemayor32 | December 10, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Alright, everybody step off the ledge and come back inside. It's early, we're still in first by 6 points. We steamrolled everyone last year and where did that get us? We'll get it worked out, Bruce and George are smart people and we have alot of guys with pride and skill on this roster.

Posted by: jmontemayor32 | December 10, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

im sure everyone remembers the 14 game win streak we had last year. One constant during that streak and some players even commented on it was that the lines were the same every game. I agree with several people on here that we dont need to switch it up every other shift. Players need to know who they are playing with so they get used to them come april.

Ov Backstrom Knuble
Semin Perrault Laich (hopefully someone else gets 85's spot later)
fehr johanson chimera
bradley steckle gordon

simple really :)

also - why does 85 have a great game his first game up, than struggles after? vs toronto he dominated the entire game - last night I barely noticed him?

Posted by: capsfansince74 | December 10, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Mcphee never addressed the 2nd line center issue in the off-season! @nd line is lousy!
Keep OV-Backstrom-Semin together, that is when you were winning.
Sorry, but Bruce may not be the guy?? Pittsburgh, Chicago & Philly all made coaching changes before they had successs in a cup run. He was out-coached last year in the playoffs, and he is being outcoached now. System was good for a while but teams have adapted. Now can Bruce adapt with them.....time will tell??
Everyone knew the day would come where OV could not carry this team. Laich-Fehr-Knuble all not producing, need to get players in here who can!

Posted by: POGUEHOCKEY | December 10, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

northvajim2,

That statement is not accurate as you can look at the Bears Calder Cup win last year to refute your argument. They lost the first two at home and then ADAPTED the system to play a more down and dirty gritty style to get things done. It worked for them and nothing blew up, it would work at the NHL level as well but I do not think BB knows the meaning of ADAPT or simply does not have the ability to do so.

Posted by: PhilR | December 10, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@capsfansince74

Bc MP isnt an every night NHLer. I know people lover him, but the facts are the facts. He does that everytime he is called up.

Posted by: ThePat | December 10, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The truth is... I am incredibly frustrated with the Caps this season. They need more effort/killer instinct.

--capscoach--

I was incredibly frustrated with them last season. And I see virtually no dropoff from last yr to this year. The reason we're not coasting thru quite as easily is because other teams have gotten better and they've had more time to figure us out. Craig Ramsey, the Atl coach, is as knowledgable about how to neutralize an offensively-gifted team as anyone in the game. He thrives on that. And frankly, its the best thing that can happen to the Caps is to be challenged like this. It prepares you a little more for playoff hockey.

I know a lot of fans look at this yr as the pivotal yr where we'll make our best Cup run yet. I look at this yr a little differently. This to me is a transition yr for this team. This is the year that this org really looks inwardly and makes some tough decisions. Because its not rocket science. Everyone and their uncle knows the major criticism of the Capitals is that they're a talent-heavy team with significant concerns regarding their grit and work ethic. The first thing any analyst says when the Caps start losing games is that their skilled players are unwilling to pay a price.

So you either re-balance that skill-to-grit coefficient, or you continue stubbornly down this path of "we'll figure it out by the time the playoffs start".

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

>>a honor not to be taken lightly or for granite.
an honor. granted. Unless you plan to hit him with a rock.

>>drinking Goat's Blood
Leave Goat out of this. Where would the hometown fans be without his cheerleading?

I suppose a lot of people would call me a bandwagoner, since I haven't been specifically a Caps fan all that long (but generally a hockey fan for a good while), but even I, an Angels fan who waited 42 long years for The Big Prize of Baseball, am growing impatient with BB.

Posted by: OvechkinFan92801 | December 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I HATE PITTSBURGH, but they have the right format. They keep the core players but bring in new faces every year or so to keep it fresh. Knuble was great but father-time is catching up with him. Laich plays 2nd line, 1st line power-play & has 7-goals....not good enough. Fehr has 2-goals in his last 16-games. Played on a great team last year, this is the only reason he scored so much. We need to start moving some of this youth to needy teams for better players we need now. Edmonton is shopping Hemsky, one of the best puck-handeling players in the league. Cup contending GM's make moves as needed. Chicago went and got Madden & Hossa last year...Cup Champions!!

Posted by: POGUEHOCKEY | December 10, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

We're 18-9, people, we're doing fine. Are there some things we can work on? For sure.

---------------

lol, i can just picture this being the msg that the players get from their own coach.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 12:29 PM

=========================================

Hey, I'm not saying that's what the coach should be saying to his players. It's just a message to our fans to chill. 4 months too early to panic.

Though now that you mention it, the players might be getting tired of BB's "call them out in the media" approach.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

@I'm embarrassed that you're a Caps fan, as I am of many who post here. IF I DON'T POINT OUT WHAT ERSK DOES, NONE OF YOU IDIOTS WOULD BE AWARE OF HIS CONTRIBUTIONS. Would you, capsfannmiss, take him out of the lineup right now (if all were healthy?)


Posted by: vermontcaps | December 10, 2010 12:27 PM

I'm still trying to figure out why you would be embarrassed for me being a CAPS fan??

I think Big John does a great job for his abilities. Is he a top 4 D-man ? I don't believe he is, he is a good 5th or 6th D-man.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 10, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

BB has been out coached in all four playoff series and has been unable to adapt. He is a one trick pony and can not or will not change his precious system that every team in the NHL now knows how to play against.

Posted by: PhilR |

I think the first indication of how he reacts and adapts was when the Flyers started running Huet because they were trying to do anything they could to generate some offense in game 2. There was absolutely no reaction or adaptation to this event for the rest of the series. Which is why it was so ironic that the critical goal in game 7 came when a Flyer forward (knuble?) ran our guy into our goalie. At that point in the series, they were incredibly comfortable around our crease area. Even moreso than our own defensemen. Can you imagine the Caps trying to generate momentum by running other teams' goalies? Its not in their nature to do that. But the Penguins sure will. They'll do whatever it takes to grind out goals which is remarkable given their level of talent.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

4-game skid is not the reason for the panic. This is a problem that has been going on for over a year now. Lazy hockey, skill-luck over effort, it's been an issue on this squad for too long. When we went on that winning streak last season, we deserved to lose 3/4 of those games, we played horrible team hockey but we are skilled & we got VERY lucky, so we won. Everyone praised us, but bad hockey will catch up with you at some point & Montreal caught us!!!!

Posted by: POGUEHOCKEY | December 10, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

My lines (if I were coach)

OV - Backstrom - Semin
Laich - MP - Knuble
Chimmy - MaJo - Fehr
Brads - Gordo - Hendricks

Then I would do something crazy. Something unheard of really. I would give them a game to build chemisty. Then (get ready for it) I would give them a SECOND game to build on that chemistry. Perhaps craziest yet, I would give them a THIRD game, and if it still wasn't working I might do some shuffling. I hate seeing lines changed three times a game. Hate it.

Posted by: Aldred15 | December 10, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Panic in May, but the trends are the same as last year's playoffs!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 10, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I HATE PITTSBURGH, but they have the right format. They keep the core players but bring in new faces every year or so to keep it fresh
----


Its more than just the new faces. They bring in the right kinds of players. Every guy they bring is physical, ornery, highly competitive. Mike Rupp, Craig Adams, Arron Asham, Cooke and Kunitz, Jay McKee, Letang from within, etc. Paul Martin is the only guy that really isn't that physical but when 90% of your team plays hardnosed hockey you can get away with that.

The Pens acquire players who fit right into their high energy style. The Caps have done a decent job over the past 2 yrs with the additions of MH and MK. But its nowhere near enough to raise this team's character to the level it needs to get to. And frankly, i don't think the Caps front office really has identified that as a significant concern.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

OV - Backstrom - Semin
Laich - MP - Knuble
Chimmy - MaJo - Fehr
Brads - Gordo - Hendricks

Good lines but I would move Chimmy up to line 2. Laich & Jeffy are the only players on this team, that no matter how bad they play, they stay on their line & their ice time is never taken away??
Bruce said production will determine who plays & where, then why do you sit Brads for Fehr last night? Laich & Knuble are not producing.....until they do, they should go down lines or sit!

Posted by: POGUEHOCKEY | December 10, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The Flyers series notwithstanding (it was the team's and the coach's first playoff appearance), you can just look at the Pens' series and the Habs' series. In both cases, the Caps blew leads (the Pens, 2 games to none, the Habs, 3 games to 1). In both cases, Bylsma and Lemaire adjusted to what the Caps were doing, and BB made no adjustments to counter-act it. As a result, total team melt-downs in game 7's. My fear right now is that Montreal showed the rest of the league how to beat the Caps, and that's what the rest of the league is doing any time the play the Caps. I actually wish they could play Atlanta every night, since that's the kind of defense they can expect in the spring. That's the kind of defense they need to learn how to beat before they can make a run.

Posted by: walker_3000 | December 10, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It seems that BB is better at making bird calls than coaching a high caliber hockey team, fly away BB, fly away.

Posted by: aim19541 | December 10, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The defense and grit have been improved. I think the real question is whether this team can achieve much success with its main offensive stars having "off" years at the same time. I don't see how that happens.

Posted by: zmega | December 10, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

More than losing games, being shut out like we have been is what's driving Bruce's anxiety level up right now. Because even he knows, this team's offense is their identity, their bread and butter. Its also his stamp on the NHL.
And if their offense goes into the tank, all hope is lost.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 10, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

YOUTH...YOUTH...YOUTH that's all I hear from Mcphee. Yes, youth is VERY important, but you need to sprinkle in veteran leadership as well. EXAMPLE: Carolina had Recchi & Weight in their cup run, as well as Brindimore. Pittsburgh brought in Gonch & Gerrin, just examples. Mcphee needs to change the record on the "price was too high" motto he goes by. Skill players are going to cost you, is he willing to pay it for a cup...doubt it??

Posted by: POGUEHOCKEY | December 10, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

The team is loaded w/ guys that won the JV(Calder) Titles. Who's going to step up to win on the V? Definetely need to play w/ more hardness. Best lines? Start the 4th line to set the tempo? Chemistry....

Posted by: Realness1 | December 10, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The time to panic was after the heartless game 7 to the pen 2 yrs ago. Wake up fellow Caps fans - I'm new to this board so please comment on my theory. Here it is > Caps slide started when cameras arrived for HBO series, we have a coach who luvs spotlite, too many stars who aren't focused on hockey, focused on DC nitelife and the many single females in our bustling metropolis, Ovi can't focus them, Crosby can in a town with many fewer distractions. BB's more worried about lining up commercials to pad his wallet as he sees this as his only chance to secure retiremnt funds, every time I've been to Kettler all I've seen is Gabby doing interview under spotlites for cameras. This team is soft, no heart, no soul, no HATE. We need some hate on this team and it's in Hershey and he wears # 7 ! ! !

Posted by: collegehockeyfan | December 10, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

cstanton: The sad thing is, we had Cooke and he was willing to stay. And Asham was there for the taking in the offseason. At least though we got Hendricks, a step up. And Chimera has played much better since we wanted to trade him the offseason.

capscoach: I have a lot more teaching experience than you think. I have raised three daughters. Youngest is 25. Yes, Caps need a disciplinarian. By that I din't mean we need Joseph Stalin to run the team. We need a coach like Bowman who will instill a system and force the players to listen.

Now, with it in the low 70s and sunny, it's off to the Total Wine store that just opened.

At least I can thank the Caps for driving me to drink.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 10, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@tom

sure...rub it in that you are soaking up the warm weather!

Posted by: capscoach | December 10, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Still can't figure out why we don't go out and get one of them hot goalies? Viola, problem solved.

Posted by: festus75 | December 10, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The pattern is set in stone. 3 game 7 early playoff flameouts AT HOME proves a serious lack of cohones and leadership. At the top, I think a coaching change may be warranted. What, wait till another playoff flop? Make the change GMGM. NOW!

Posted by: rdondero123 | December 10, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

@collegehockeyfan

Time to panic was 2003 when the CAPs choked for the second consective playoff after a 2-0 lead. Since then we've gotten seat filling exciting hockey, but not championship hockey. CAPs management says 'they've built a team capable in competing for the cup everyear.' True, true. But you really need to build a team that is capable of winning it!

Posted by: festus75 | December 10, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Beeps

Posted by: Realness1 | December 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"We're 18-9, people, we're doing fine. Are there some things we can work on? For sure."
----------------
We are 18 wins & 12 losses. Putting the word overtime before the word loss, doesn't change the fact that it is a loss.

"Is it safe to say you have no teaching experience? It is easy to say...go get a disciplinarian (it's working out so well for the Rangers) As someone with a lot of teaching experience, may I just say that is a bad idea! Especially mid season."
-------------------------------------
NEA influence coming through here.

It is not that the Caps are losing frequently at this point, but rather they seem to have absolutely no cohesion in their play. This has been true all of this year & a portion of the previous years recently. The big difference is that in the past, individual skill won games for them. The combination of some players having lackluster years so far & the fact that the rest of the league has caught up to their way of playing, does not portend to any success in the SC playoffs.

Posted by: sidehillman | December 10, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

how did winning the Presidents trophy work out for them last year ? maybe they should be run like the Redskins,fire the coach every other year, make a big splash trade or go out and sign the big free agents,push the payroll all the way to the cap ..why havent they traded both goalies for Pronger yet .what is wrong with GMGM

Posted by: heathdog1119 | December 10, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Pens and Crosby go through something just like this the year they won the cup? Not positive but I thought they were middle of the pack and struggling until finally putting it all together the 2nd half of the year and playoffs. Can anybody confirm?

Posted by: tnand | December 10, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The combination of some players having lackluster years so far & the fact that the rest of the league has caught up to their way of playing, does not portend to any success in the SC playoffs.

Posted by: sidehillman | December 10, 2010 2:04 PM

Nothing much portends success in the SC playoffs -- other than actually making the playoffs. And since we're looking pretty good for that, I'm not worried.

If you want to freak out because we're "only" 18-9-3, that's your call.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I love Gabby and think he is a good coach, but this team needs a shake up. Caps need a hard-a** disciplinarian coach... plain and simple. I suspect things have gotten too cozy in Arlington.

Posted by: F_Danny_Boy | December 10, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"We are 18 wins & 12 losses. Putting the word overtime before the word loss, doesn't change the fact that it is a loss."

BALONEY! The perversion of the new system is that teams are now rewarded for a win that used to be a tie not the other way around. Teams aren't building up standings points because of the OTL stat, it is because of the OTW stat. They are points that didn't exist until a few years ago. The majority of the time teams are losing in the shootout which is hardly a barometer for winning and losing a hockey game. It was done for adding excitement but lets not lose perspective of what it is.

Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | December 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm currently flying to AZ and am enjoying passing the time following the discussion. I love Internet on flights. I too am very concerned with this season. I keep prepared for that kick in the gut feeling we've had the past two years. I don't see this year turning out any differently. And that's sad to realize.

Posted by: CapsFaninSC | December 10, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

If you watch national media coverage (Barnaby-ESPN yes I know he is a dou**e; those biased Cindy-loving hacks at NHL network; and, sigh, Milbury)and what they have to say about the Caps, yes, the first reaction is to want to punch the TV. But why? Canadian bias and anti-Russian sentiment notwithstanding, the reason you feel that anger is because the truth hurts.

This team will not win the Cup with its current make up. True, I know as much about hockey as the next person who's never played the game, but having watched sports since I can remember, all I have to go on in my gut feeling. Under BB, this team has always found a way to scratch and claw and win games in the regular season, but that don't translate well come April-May-June.

Until they learn to play more disciplined D, and learn TO PUT THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN, there is zero chance for the Cup. Have they ever had that killer instinct under BB? How many blown 2, 3, and 4 goal leads??? Again, I think BB is a good coach, but Jock-strap Martin out-coached him last year and found a way to shut down Ovie. Other teams have copied that formula ever since and it is working. Caps not adjusting.

This team has the talent to go far, but perhaps need a coaching change to wake them up... and to keep them from crapping the bed yet again in the playoffs.

It is VERY painful to say, but look how the team northwest of us has ripped off 10 straight.... 2-1, 1-0, 7-2, and so on. That is how teams win in the playoffs. Caps have never done that under BB.

Posted by: F_Danny_Boy | December 10, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Caps have no reason to panic. Wait until Feb/March to see how things are goig. We may need to upgrade from Knuble/Laich/Fehr if these guys don't step it up in the next couple of months.

Many of the people polled saying that it's time to panic are not from the DC area nor are they Caps fans...so don't look too much into those numbers.

Let's go Caps!

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | December 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Many of the people polled saying that it's time to panic are not from the DC area nor are they Caps fans...so don't look too much into those numbers.

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | December 10, 2010 3:45 PM

============================================

?? How would you know that??

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

PANIC? Panic when you are in first place in mid-December? This question is a joke, right? Panic is reserved for late March when you are the tenth seed. Then it is the time to panic. Address a few things, yes. The Pens have struggled twice in the past few seasons before January rolled around and I don't recall their fans panicking. The Flyers struggled last year and ended up in the Finals. Panic? He!! no!

Posted by: Gambrills4 | December 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

If you are an idiot then it is time to panic. Otherwise, get real. It's December for pete sakes.

Posted by: blackandred777 | December 10, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse


sinbin nailed it:

"The problem is that they are not getting better, nor are they showing any signs whatsoever that last year wasn't good enough."

This is my concern as well. I was concerned even when we were winning last year, when it was IN SPITE sin spite of our bad habits not BECAUSE of good habits and collective strength. Maybe this lack of improvement is the reason why, though we were winning during the regular season, fell apart in the playoffs. We had not corrected fundamental weaknesses.

Another concern is that, not only are we not improving, but we have slid. At least last year there was an explosiveness and energy in the team that is, unfortunately, lacking now. The top players, especially Ovie, energized the team with spectacular performances.

Now Ovie, in particular, seems to be a shadow of his old self. I am not saying that he does not work very hard. He always does. But he does not seem to be brimming with passion, joy for the sport, wild energy and confidence.

I am even agreeing with cstanton1, perhaps for the first time in history, who sees another reason for our slide.

"The reason we're not coasting thru quite as easily is because other teams have gotten better and they've had more time to figure us out." I agree. If we cannot adapt on a dime, I don't see us dominating the way we did last year.

I love BB but I am beginning to consider the possibility that he may not be able to take us to the next step. I don't know why. I don't see what people mean when they say he does not "hold players accountable." I don't see this but something else is needed to get the players to replace the same, old, defeating habits with new ones and to enable this team to make "adjustments when things aren't going well."

Of course, there is always the possibility that we may take the exact opposite course from last year, this is, have a less stellar regular season and shine in the playoffs.


Could those more knowledgeable than me answer my questions:

1) What they think happened to Ovie?

2) Do you think that the loss of the old Ovie (so far) is contributing to the team's changed mood and spirit? How much of a factor do you think this is.

3) How realistic is it to explect that they will replace BB? What will it take? I mean the guy is still taking this team to the top of NHL's rankings. Is it likely that they would just fire him next year if we do badly in the playoffs in spite of the team's good regular seasom? Look what it took to get rid of Hanlon.

Okay. I am eagerly waiting for brilliant answers.

Posted by: caraveli | December 10, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

@caraveli:

OK, I know you only asked for those more knowledgeable than you to reply, but I'm going to anyway...

1) Ovie's just taking it (relatively) easy because he understands it's the playoffs that really matter.

2) Yes, I think they're all taking it down just a notch. We're not all excited about the regular season like we have been the last few years -- we see where that's gotten us.

3) My guess is that it's extremely unlikely they'll fire him this year. If we do badly in the playoffs -- like not even final 4 -- it's extremely likely he'll then be fired.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"five players -- Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, John Carlson and Boyd Gordon -- aren't skating because they have the flu, "

Doesn't this team give mandatory flu shots?
Maybe all new contracts should have that clause from now on.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | December 10, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

They don't have the flu. They have colds. You would think that a reporter for a major newspaper could inquire and get this right.

Posted by: MKadyman | December 10, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I like BB but it's time for him to go. It's the same garbage after every lousy game, both from him and the players. Lots of lips service, "have to keep it simple" "not paying the price" not doing this, not doing that. Jeez! It's been going for the last three years. I also agree Ovie should not be captain. As much as I hate Crosby and I have really dogged him on these boards, I can't ever do it again. The guy leads the way for his team, wins the Cup, wins the Gold and now leads in stats. He's captain because he deserves it. Ovie is out of it this year. It seems he's got his mind on Moscow and how much of a party place it is. Of course, I'll never know. As Ovie pointed out in his article, don't come to Moscow if you don't have money to spend. The rest of the guys are doing the same stuff as last year too. Why not try for fancy behind-the-back, no-look passes when a simple straight shot on net might do? I've supported the team for 30 years, but I'm sick and tired of them always repeating the same mistakes. Frustrating to watch them play

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | December 10, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

This is how y'all feel about one of the best teams in hockey??

I'm starting to think that Washington-area fans might be the second worst in the entire country. (Philly has permanent ownership of the first place crown.)

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who believe that there's no reason to panic are just plain delusional.

1. This group of players has had NO playoff success to speak of.

2. They have NEVER put together a string of games in which they've won close playoff type contests, winning games 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 or 3-2 in a 2 or 3-week span.

If they've done either of those things in the recent past then I would agree that there's no reason to panic yet. But we're talking about the Washington Capitals on here, NOT the Detroit Redwings.

Posted by: joek443 | December 10, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

In racing there are a lot of guys who can give you one or two fast laps but very few can do it lap after lap for two, three, four or five hundred miles.

The Caps have shown that they can play a sound defensive game for one or two games here and there but under BB they've NEVER done it consistently for an extended period.

In the playoffs you gotta play like that for TWO months. Again if you believe that there's no reason to panic right now, WTF do you base that belief on???

Posted by: joek443 | December 10, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

If you believe that there's no reason to panic right now, WTF do you base that belief on???

Posted by: joek443 | December 10, 2010 7:36 PM

ITF base that belief on the fact that it's the middle of December. Oh, and we're leading our division and have the third most points in the league, despite this 4-game losing streak.

I mean, if this is what makes you panic, how do you feel about the Redskins, Wiz, Nats, Terps, etc.? Full-blown hysterical meltdown?? Run naked through the streets??

Maybe you just don't understand the difference between "mild concern" and "panic".

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 10, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Montreal cracked the Caps winning formula last year - let the Caps run and gun, stay at home on defense and clear the rebounds, mark the superstar with one or more guys and let the others try to beat you. The Caps will fire 40-50 outside shots *poor quality scoring changes) and lose out on getting the puck for second/third chances. The team lacks intensity, grit, and heart. The General Manager needs to move some guys and the Coach needs to send guys to the net for the run and gun.

Posted by: tbowersva | December 11, 2010 3:29 AM | Report abuse


Ever wonder about all the free stuff you see on the web? It appears like everybody wants to give stuff away for nothing, nada, zilch. But are these items truly free of charge? If so, how can these companies afford to give away all of these coupons and samples? It’s truly all about you, the consumer. We live in a very competitive world marketplace place. The internet has upped the ante in terms of who could be seen and heard via all with the mass media. Now companies need to make lots of noise and this is one way that can do it. One of the best place on the web is called "123 Get Samples" and get your free stuffs

Posted by: nellylewis | December 11, 2010 6:19 AM | Report abuse

What a bunch of punks most of you are. You are so use to this team kicking ass, or never being out of a game that you whine over a losing streak. Get a life. I would take this team over any other in the playoffs. You will be the first ones singing their praise when they play better, and especially if they do well at playoff time. Take that silver spoon that this team has provided out of your mouth and stick it somewhere lower you spoiled little white collar babies.

Posted by: coastallp74 | December 11, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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