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Posted at 9:58 AM ET, 12/15/2010

Why are we worrying about the Caps?

By LaVar Arrington

The Washington Capitals have lost six straight games. This team has battled injuries and the flu over the last few weeks. The Caps have tons of pressure on them because, quite frankly, they're the only team that gives this city any hope of a championship. Even though they have been losing, they are still one of the most deeply talented teams in the NHL.

Opposing teams are treating games against the Caps as if they were the Stanley Cup champs. The reason why is because this group is so talented that every team is using them as a measuring stick of sorts. The Capitals still have to figure out how to play their best against teams that are challenging them to play at their highest level.

So should we be worred? A bit, maybe. But here are the positives, people.

Last year this team struggled with penalty kills and guarding its blue line. The Caps have not looked great lately, but early on in the season it became evident that they have been addressing and improving in both areas.

The Caps will get healthy and they will adjust to how to beat teams that are playing them so hard. I believe it will happen at the right time this year. Last season, this team peaked too early and because of their dominance in the regular season the Caps had too much idle time between when they clinched their division and the playoffs. All that waiting for the playoffs to start cost them their competitive edge and it ultimately cost them in the first round of the playoffs.

Now fast forward to this year. Teams know the Caps are the team to beat. So, by having teams give the Caps their best shot, these guys are getting playoff reps every game now.

Once Coach Boudreau gets these guys' game plan adjusted and gets them mentally dialed into what it is they need to do to get back on the winning track, they will be exactly where they need to be and will know what to do once the the playoffs start.

Can they do it? I believe so. You have a core group of guys who care about one another and have played together for a while. There's very little doubt that the right pieces are in place for this team to succeed.

My only question is, will these guys be mature enough to realize what is in front of them and seize the moment? If the answer is yes, then I'm led to believe that this team will bring home the hardware this season, and maybe for years to come.

By LaVar Arrington  | December 15, 2010; 9:58 AM ET
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Caps will be fine, i think they have something up their sleeves, expect a deep playoff run this season.

Posted by: MrWillie | December 15, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Awesome post LaVar. Thanks.

Posted by: lavar609 | December 15, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Strength through adversity. Come on folks...we got nothing else in this town...ROCK THE RED!

Posted by: SA-Town | December 15, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"There's very little doubt that the right pieces are in place for this team to succeed."

Well, I'm not quite sure about that, getting an excellent defense-minded defenseman would be a big help.

But basically, I agree with your premise, that there's no reason to panic because of a losing streak in December.

But for some reason, Washington-area fans just seem to love tearing down their teams rather than supporting and enjoying them. For seemingly like 90% of fans -- at least the ones who write in to WaPo blogs -- the glass is always 90% empty.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 15, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Good comments here. The fact that LA has competed at high levels gives me some more confidence in his thinking.

Posted by: jerry2178 | December 15, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Lavar. It echoes my thoughts. There are far too many pessimists on the ledge right now that are ready to blow up the team. A little patience is in order.

Posted by: _Mark | December 15, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

This is the most sensible post/article I've read on the Caps during the losing streak.

Beyond dealing with teams gunning for them their makeup has changed a bit as well and this requires the new players to adjust to the Caps gameplan and it also will likely require some tactical adjustments by the coaching staff.

Without Green in the lineup and with other d-men fighting injuries and the flu, this team is not very strong in the puck moving department on the blueline which has been hurting them. Combine this with weaker playmaking ability in the forward ranks per the departures of Morrison, Belanger and Fleischmann plus the flu bug biting the forwards you have a team struggling to score goals.

Given time to recover from the illnesses and time to work Perreault in as a playmaker for one of the bottom 3 lines this team will turn it around. It seems that Perreault is trying to be more of a goalscorer as the team struggles, hopefully we'll see his playmaking skills emerge as the team gets healthy.

The often underrated, by the fans at least, Schultz being out hurts the teams coverage ability a lot as well. I think Hannon will be a nice addition in the long run this year but he needs to play with a puck mover who can help him exit the zone.

Posted by: born_rpm | December 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, LaVar, for that piece. It's calmed me down a bit but I've never been one for calling for riots because of 6 straight losses. You'd be surprised though at the number of people who are offended that we're not more upset and angry at the Caps. For those of us who still have faith and hope in our Capitals, you do us justice with this piece. Great job!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | December 15, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

This is the Washington Post, and this article reads like it was written by a high school sophomore. Get over the hero worship, folks.

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

I don't completely agree with all of the particulars - for example I think now other teams treat the Caps as not so much Stanley Cup champs defending, which they are not, but rather "San Jose East" ie Presidents trophy regular season winners that have gone out early in the playoffs 3 years running, and now teams are having more success defeating their high-octane offense while at the same time they haven't fully established their "plan B" game plans to counter this. In my opinion it would be foolish to overreact and blow things up today, or this week, or this month. Let the team figure out how to successfully counter what teams like Montreal, Boston, NYR, etc have been doing lately and get some confidence in their new methods. If they can do that, they will have an excellent opportunity in the playoffs, regardless of where they are seeded, now and in future years. If they cannot, we will most likely see a new coach next year if not sometime later this season. Hopefully GMGM and Ted realize that they can't just make a coaching change for its own sake without having a viable alternative.

Having said all that, I think it's a great post that makes a lot of spot on points.

Posted by: dcunitedfan3 | December 15, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Great job L.A. Glad to see something else besides your Keys To The Game

Posted by: Treymen | December 15, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"Once Coach Boudreau gets these guys' game plan adjusted"...This is the part that concerns me. Coach BB seems unwilling or unable to accept the fact that this needs to happen.

Posted by: BPTUCKER71 | December 15, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Now Lavar is talking Hockey??? This guy has people on his radio show and asks them simple questions about the sport, and now he's qualified to write an opinion piece?

Post, hire someone who knows hockey - they are all over the internet. Why would a former, washed up linebacker write about hockey????

To address the article: First of all, all the of the pieces are NOT in place. We have no 2C, and beyond Semin, OV and Backs, we have no one to turn to to score. Fehr, Laich, Knuble are all WAY below what we need and Ovechkin is having his worst year ever.

2nd: Bruce Boudreau has won 1 out of 4 playoff series, having blown 2-0 or 3-1 leads in two of them with home ice advantage and lost all three in game 7 on home ice. Why assume that he's going to get "these boys dialed in" as you put it.

Against Montreal, everyone talks about the "hot goalie" and the last three games. In actuality, we struggled in the first four and thanks only to a Nick Backstrom putting the team on his back was it not 2-2 after four. So, we go up 3-1 despite having absolutely no answer for what Montreal was doing to defend the power play (1-33 for the WHOLE series).

The SAME things are happening this year, and it is NOT just during this losing streak.

Lavar, stick to sucking on the radio (which I can listen to for about 10 seconds before his "that"s which he says every 5th word. Nice that you are learning about the game, but just because Brooksie comes on your show and talks to you doesn't mean that you are now qualified to write about it.

Posted by: Alisterio | December 15, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for trying to pick us up LA, not bad. It gives me hope probalby until puck drop tonight, I feel kind of bad for all my negative posts but listening to TO and GMGM I have a feeling that if we lose tonight BB's out which I would support. I've been thinking about his replacement, one thing I haven't said so far is that this team really seems to respond to Dean Evason, the players love him and he's a big time Xs and Os guy who would bring more balance, I haven't said his name here - any thoughts - caps coach, scranton, LA Tom?

Posted by: collegehockeyfan | December 15, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Well said LaVar. Thank You! I find comfort in the thought that these guys have hit a rough patch when they did. Time to right the ship and hit that peak in the second half.

Posted by: j3rockstar | December 15, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

LaVar is right even if he has never played ice hockey. People need to stop transferring their frustration/hatred over the Redskins' situation to the Caps. It is not even officially winter yet and folks are freaking over the Caps. Calm down everybody. The playoffs don't start until the spring.

Posted by: djdavew2002 | December 15, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

You don't have to play hockey to write about it, but you shouldn't write about it just cause you've got a blog at the post. Its painful to hear him talk about hockey because he is generally not that well spoken but pretends that he is.

Today his radio show he ceded the point that the players weren't doing what the coach was asking them to do, which smokin al also said. Then a caller who obviously knew hockey pointed out that if the players aren't listening to the coach then a clear sign that it's time to get rid of him.

And here's my point. Instead of realizing that the caller knew a lot more about hockey than he did, he just wanted to agree with smokin' Al. Lavar says, "no, it's not time to get rid of him, it just means there's a disconnect in the locker room about what the coaches want and what the players are doing." Are you serious Levar? That's your defense of your opinion? Its not that the players aren't listening, it's that there is a disconnect.


Then he goes on to say how young the team is, blah blah which any jerk can say if they look
at the roster but the reality is this is the
fourth year for this core group.

I reallt don't know how this guy nut only had a radio show but had parlayed that into a column at the washington bleeping post.

Posted by: Alisterio | December 15, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I look back at the Penguins in the 2008-2009 season when they won the Stanley Cup and they had a five-game losing streak in December-January of that season. They were also in 10th place at the all-star break that year.

I don't think there is any reason to start to panic. It's so easy to get negative about our teams in DC since they are all struggling right now, but the Caps will be there when it counts. I agree with Lavar that a little adversity may actually do them some good.

I only got to see the first two periods last night, but they were basically less than an inch from winning last night. If you saw Laich's shot after his first goal that trickled past the goaltender and was hit out by a defender just before it crossed the line you know what I mean. That would have been the game-winner.

Relax Caps fans!

Posted by: Burg_gold_blood | December 16, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

To Alisterio, before you are gonna rip LaVar about not being "well spoken" you might want to proof read your own post's.

This is taken from your last post:

"I reallt don't know how this guy nut only had a radio show but had parlayed that into a column at the washington bleeping post."

Really? Try not use the big words "parlayed" until you can get the little one's right first. LaVar Arrington left just about everything his body had on the field for this town. So if he wants to make an attempt at talking about the Caps, I'd rather listen to him than most of the sports reporters in this town that have chosen to ignore the Caps.

The "RED" will rise again!

Posted by: ten75ice | December 16, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I KNEW someone would come along with the grammar and typo smack - when they have no facts to attack, they will point at your typos.

I wrote it on my phone, jacknutz. "Reallt", and "nut" were OBVIOUSLY typos and the Wapo software on my droid wouldn't let me scroll down to the end of my post to edit it.

Lavar got run out of town by JOE GIBBS (3X SuperBowl winner) and Gregg WILLIAMS (SuperBowl winner cause he couldn't get with the system. If you can't play for those two, you are a loser.

A potential hall of fame career left him buying his way out of Washington only to be released by the Giants.

Not only that, he also so happens to be an idiot.

Posted by: Alisterio | December 16, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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