Season opener? Check.
Home opener? Check.
Emotionally charged game against a bitter rival from PA? Check.
Yes, it's safe to say the novelty of the 2009-2010 NHL season has worn off and the Caps are settling in for a full 82+ game ride.
The way in which they're settling in, however, has been rather unsettling, losing consecutive winnable games against Atlantic Division rivals Philadelphia and New York.
In two games they let two third period leads vanish due to unacceptable and nearly identical late penalties by Boyd Gordon, suspect goaltending, missed defensive assignments, and a general lack of effort that seems to be the byproduct of a dangerous attitude, "We can get by on talent, and nothing more."
While this may be the case against some of the doormats of the NHL, any team who also boasts extraordinary talent, like the Flyers, or works their collective butts off to adhere to a smart defensive game plan and pounce on the opposition's mistakes, like the Rangers, will have no problem exploiting this mindset.
Coach Brouce Boudreau has not been pleased with the effort dating back to the third period of the Toronto game, and who can blame him? But it all starts with the coach, and he appears to be holding players accountable this year more than ever before, calling out Tom Poti and John Erskine on Tuesday, and extending Friday's film session two-fold to presumably go over the two Alexes' glaring mistakes on the power play in the second period Thursday.
We learned during the game 7 debacle last year that talent is never enough. We've learned through the first four games this year that early season media coddling is never enough. Great teams earn their keep through heard work and perseverance.
So it better start tonight against the defending Western Conference Champs, who will be without Johan Franzen for at least four months. I'd love nothing more than add to insult to injury by taking their building by storm and sending around 20,000 fans home unhappy.
I figure we owe 'em at least that much for that long, long time ago when the Lions effectively ended my Redskins' hopes and dreams...