Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Open Letter to the Washington Capitals

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


  1. I agree with the "shoot the puck" critique to a point but I find us Caps fans gripe about this a lot and then you get a goal like Fleischmann-to-Backstrom-to-Semin-to-Fleischmann-to-Backstrom. Which was awesome. Frankly I can live with a little overpassing after 20 years of the stone-hands-checking-line approach to goal-scoring. And Semin's work on the boards led to one of Laich's goals as well.

    Agree on all other points. That Chimera guy got away with murder in our building.

  2. That goal was truly sensational, no debate here. And while I love the flash-and-dash as much as the next fan, the fact is that goal counts the same as Brooks Laich's fluttering duck of a shot in the third period. Pretty doesn't show up in the score column, and our high-talent guys don't seem to realize that all the time.

  3. Can't help but blame GMGM for two of these things. The Caps need an enforcer in the regular season, period. Sure in the playoffs they can sit and let a more talented player play on the 4th line but you just need a protector for the reg season. See Green and Ovi. The Pens have Goddard or whatever his name is. Didnt play one game in the playoffs but have him around now to protect the skill guys.
    2nd yeah its said watching Poti, it's even sadder that he is our top shutdown d-man. THAT is hilarious. We have had D-needs for a couple of seasons and nothing has been done. Sad....

  4. Teams don't seem afraid to play us. Were they ever? I don't know, maybe. But I don't get the sense we're always getting the other team's best - they don't play with urgency against us because they know they don't have to.

    Melrose mentioned this a few weeks ago: we are so big that if we WANTED to, we could be physically dominant every shift, and just wear teams out by the third. Obviously, the way we're giving up goals late, that is not the case. If there is a trait I'd say we're lacking most, it's relentlessness.

  5. They should be playing with a chip on their collective shoulders after how last season ended. Instead, they're playing with a sense of entitlement.

  6. I'm looking for a trade, something to shake things up, something to say, "Nobody is safe until you get out there and get the fucking job done."

    That said, 20 points in 16 games, while playing substantially worse than capable, ain't nothin' to frown about.

  7. "That said, 20 points in 16 games, while playing substantially worse than capable, ain't nothin' to frown about."

    True indeed. But these facts contribute to a wierd team malaise. Not that we want to see them lose, but perhaps if they did lose may of the unfulfilling / undeserved games, there would be more team introspection and urgency to correct issues.

  8. This post is unfortunately right on the money...

    Last night's game was painful to watch for many reasons, the most poignant of which was the closing sequence - dear god, please make Nyls salary go away so we can trade for a top 2 d-man.

  9. When Caps owner Ted Leonsis agrees with nearly everyone you say and links to your blog, I'd say you scored a hat trick with your comments. Party on, dude!

  10. Yeah, Ted linked us. Should Tom Poti be worried about that?

  11. It time for the yeah, but! Frankly the best team does not win the Cup, the team playing the best at the END of the year wins the cup. Like pretty goals, does not matter if you finish #1 or #8 in the regular season, the object is to finish #1 at the end of the playoffs. Chill fan man!

  12. Understood, Bob B, but it must be said that many of the bad tendencies the Caps are showing this year were problematic throughout all of last season, not to mention crippling in the playoffs. Championship teams get that shit corrected come playoff time, so why not get it corrected now?

  13. I agree completley. I even sold my November and December tickets because I cannot stand to see my team get their asses handed to them like this.

    Major shake ups need to occur on the blue line. This until is just playing pathetic.

  14. No offense, Anonymous, but that's a pretty absurd thing to do. How entitled are we as a fan base if we start bailing on a team that is, at this point, second overall in the Eastern Conference? Yeah, it's frustrating to see them spin their wheels at times, but that's the very definition of bandwagon behavior. Do you have any idea how many hockey fans would kill to watch a team like ours play 41 times a year? Hearing something like this helps me understand why people from Philly, Pittsburgh and Canada treat Caps fans with such disdain.

  15. Can't stand the Capitals they have no damn defense! Even I know that and I am a woman, not to mention a Flyers and Blackhawks fan!!!! I love Hockey to the core!

  16. well then im glad you sold your tickets to someone who will stand by the team because i'd prefer to not have you're terrible attitude at the booth.

  17. The team just doesn't seem to have the "cajones" it should.

    Right now they are playing like a team content to get knocked out in the 2nd round of the playoffs again.

    There is time to kick it up a notch, but GMGM has to get off his arse too........

  18. "There is time to kick it up a notch, but GMGM has to get off his arse too........"



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