Dear Washington Capitals,
I'm frustrated with you. Don't get me wrong -- I think you're an extremely talented squad, led by a core of electrifying young talent that will only improve in the coming years. In short, I think you're great most of the time, and I think your future is bright.
But we need to talk.
Look, I realize it's only the first day of November and that championships are won in April, May and June, but here's the thing: when I look at you today, Washington Capitals, I don't see a team that's prepared to win a championship. You have the talent, sure, but there are a few things missing. Big things. And unless you find them within yourselves, we're going to be having more conversations like this.
First, Washington Capitals, you seem to lack the desire necessary to compete for a full 60 minutes. You're like the husband who makes dinner every night, brings home flowers on Fridays and then forgets the anniversary. When you have a lead in the third period, one that you earned through honest effort, it's simply not good enough to allow Raffi Torres stand on your doorstep unmolested for a game-tying tap-in. Yes, I'm talking to you, Tom Poti.
(And while I'm on the subject, Tom Poti, it's also getting mighty tiresome watching you feebly attempt to clear bodies away from the front of the goal, horrendously screening your goaltender in the process. R.J. Umberger owned you last night, Tom Poti, and that desperation slide thing you tried to pull off looked like something I'd try at the end of a long shift in my beer league.)
This ennui happens a lot, Washington Capitals, particularly when you're defending a third-period lead, which you haven't been very good at of late. You know, you don't have to win every game by one goal, right? You can actually win by as many as you want? Okay, glad we sorted that out.
Secondly, Washington Capitals, you lack backbone. Jason Chimera stirred your shit up last night; you didn't like it one bit, and neither did I. Sure, it was nice to see everyone play grab-ass after he stirred things up with your best, most indispensable player, but face-washes aren't good enough. Not at that moment. Someone needs to make him accountable -- whether at that moment or on the next shift -- for taking your best player with him to the penalty box, and possibly contributing to what sent him to the locker room for the rest of the game (and hopefully not longer). That's when you take an instigator penalty if need be, Washington Capitals, to let him and his cronies know that behavior of that sort shall not stand. Heck, even something like this would do.
[Update: Boudreau indicated Monday that several Capitals, including Matt Bradley, challenged Chimera to a fight, but the Columbus winger declined.]
Didn't you guys talk about the need for team toughness after Mike Green nearly got the Joe Theismann treatment on Long Island last month? You had to, right? You said all off-season you would punish teams for the rough stuff by scoring power-play goals; how's that working out so far?
Thirdly, Washington Capitals, you seem to be hilariously unaware of one of the most basic tenets of ice hockey: you don't get points for making pretty passes. This applies to both even-strength and power-play situations, whether the opponent is the New York Islanders of Columbus Blue Jackets. Goals are only awarded when the puck crosses the goal line; this is most frequently accomplished by directing shots in the general direction of the goal, which is a 6-by-four rectangle guarded by a goal-tender. I cannot stress this point enough, Alexander Semin.
I realize it might seem like we're nitpicking, Washington Capitals. After all, you just recorded the best October in team history, and your 20 standings points have you near the top of the Eastern Conference. But you cannot be satisfied with the way you've played, and I just wanted you to know that I'm not either. Not by a very wide margin. And I think it's better you hear it from me now while there's still time to fix things.
It's early, Washington Capitals, but not that early.
A Concerned Fan