The Caps look to take on their rival the Pittsburh Penguins for the second time within a week with hopes this time around won’t be so disastorious. The last time the Caps met the Peguins was on Superbowl Sunday, after Pittsburgh had given New Jersey a solid thrashing.
Seeing what the Pens offense had done to last seasons Eastern Conference Champs, I was concerned for the Caps shakey and sometimes non-existence defense and equally lacking and de-energized offense. My concern wasn’t too far misplaced as the Penguins won the game 6-1.
Fastforward to tomorrow; the Caps are on a downward spiral, and honestly have been since the start of the season, facing a team that’s arguably one of the best in the league. Anyone else crapping their pants?
The Caps are everything the Cas aren’t; consistent, play smart (no dumb penalties!), have effective, and at times deadly, PK and PP units, but most importantly, they play as a team for the full game.
The Caps HAVE, I can not stress it enough, play a full game as a team getting pucks in front of the net to create scoring chance because eventually, one is going to butter the buscuit. When you start scoring, you start winning. When you start winning, you make the Playoffs and then anything could happen.
Basically; the Caps need to play sixty minutes (plus overtime if it comes to it) of hard, energized, consistent hockey and they’ll see things turn around.
There’s not much to say about the game that took place in the Phone Booth last night. The Caps played with very little energy and drive for the first two periods, this created many scoring chances for Toronto on which they utilized creating a 3-1 lead after the second. The Caps didn’t get their act together until the last 14 minutes of the game, which was due to Center Mike Riberio’s goal.
To be honest, their drive for the last fourteen minutes was the only notable and half way decent thing about the game for the Caps. They played sloppy and gave up way to many good opportunities for Toronto to capitalize on, which they did.
As I stressed in my pregame, the caps have to play a full game with energy. If they keep playing with this lack of focus and drive, they’re going to stay at the bottom of the league and they have way to much talent on their team to be 30th.
While what I said is true, not all players on the team aren’t playing hard. Last night, Mike Riberio, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera played hard and while their efforts might not necessarily have made an impact on the stat sheet, it did on the ice.
Some players, on the other hand, under preformed. Again, the not so great 8 was nearly invisible with a few rushes on net and a near goal. But his power play presence was abysmal and his play with less than 20 seconds left in the game did not impress. Honestly, I think Jeff Schultz had a better game than Ovechkin and that’s saying a lot.
Until the Caps can figure out how to play a full game with the intensity they had at the end of last night’s game, they’re going to continue to lose and stay at the bottom of the league. I’m not even going to talk about the Playoffs at this point.
Tonight the Caps take on the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time on this shortened season. The last match up between these two was a doosey with the Caps losing 3-2. While they gained momentum with an early lead via Joel Ward, they were unable to keep the pressure for the full game which the Leafs capitalized on earning them two points in the standings. While the Leafshave great young talent, the Caps inability to play a full game is what’s plagued them throughout the start of this shortened season and has cost them many games in the third (think Ottawa and New Jersey).
Playing a full game is vital if the Caps want to amount to anything and even make the Playoffs, which is seeming less and less likely with each passing game. To even have a chance at winning this game, the Caps have to be able to keep offensive pressure on the Leafs and get pucks in front of the net, one’s gonna tickle the twine sometime.
This boils down to individual player responsibility. the so touted “big guns” need to actually show up. Ovechkin? He has half as many goals as Joel Ward and his points aren’t anything to talk about either. Backstrom? Other than the game against Philly, he’s been pretty invisible with only a handful of assists and points. I think I’ve made my point.
If the Caps want to be a true Cup contender or even a team that’s halfway decent, everyone needs to come out and play every shift, every game. Let’s hope they can pull it together tonight in the Phone Booth and secure another W in the standings.
After a long hiatus, I’m very pleased to say I’m back and better than ever. I’ll be doing game previews, post games, player profiles, and more of the same old. Enjoy!