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You Get What You Pay For

The Capitals will tell you that they didn't come ready to play against Buffalo. That a couple of defensive zone breakdowns led to Montreal's first two goals.

And they are right.

But take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What I saw was two $43 million dollar teams show the Capitals exactly how much an extra $13 million in salaries buys these days.

Harsh, I know. But that's the way I saw it.

It's true that the Capitals, at just over $30 million, have the lower payroll every night and that they've still managed to knock off many higher priced clubs this season. The disparity just seemed more pronounced the past 48 hours.

It also must be pointed out that the Caps are playing without five regulars, who are sidelined with injury and illness. And they are in the midst of a brutal six games in nine nights stretch. Those facts cannot be ignored.

But did you see the way Buffalo moved the puck in the offensive zone? How about Montreal's flawless play in its own end?

Sometimes, during postgame interviews following a loss, I can tell a player or coach just wants to say to me, "Yes, Tarik, we struggled. But there's a very good reason. Did you look at their lineup?"

I'm not suggesting that ownership needs to go out and buy the first expensive free agent available, or take on a huge salary at the trade deadline. Rather I just hope it remembers this: hard work and effort only take you so far in professional sports. The past two games have been a perfect example of that.


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 28, 2006; 10:32 AM ET
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