All along, I thought this would be an amazing show, putting Sidney Crosby's lameness and robotic nature as a pathetic contract to the fun-loving Ovechkin leading his high-flying Caps. Well, yeah........
With the Penguins in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, and the Caps puttering through a then 6-game losing streak, everything was upside-down. The Penguins were the loose and fun team, while the Caps personalities all came across as stale. HBO clearly focused their Caps footage on the sullen locker room, and I imagine this quiet was compounded by not many Caps speaking English as a first language.
What I took from this could be much bigger though. I know it is hard to judge a team in its worst times, but I think that sullen locker room I just mentioned is the problem. This team has struggled with inconsistency in effort and focus the past couple seasons, and one has to think that these issues can only be cured by improved leadership.
Bruce Boudreau is certainly a presence and did all he could to rally the guys, but there was an absence of vocal player leadership. This team is led by a bunch of Russians who clearly are not 100% comfortable speaking English, which I imagine is a significant hindrance to vocalizing encouragement. Even Backstrom came across as quiet, if not awkward, when skating with children in DC. Mike Green could, and maybe should, be the guy, but is also pretty quiet and not someone who can captain and NHL team. Jason Chimera kind of put some words out there at one point, but should have been a stronger presence, or gotten some support. Poti? Laich? Anyone?
Meanwhile, the Penguins were ahead 2-1 going into the 3rd period of what would be consecutive win number 12 and had a few guys yelling and getting the team amped, such as Tyler Kennedy; the passion they displayed would have led you to believe the Pens were losing. This is an extenuating circumstance for the Caps, and maybe they are just as boisterous when winning, and maybe being loud isn't the best method for every team, but 'a man is judged by how he responds to adversity,' and behind the scenes, the Caps did not respond to the challenge.
Other quick notes:
- Gabby could indeed have made Rex Ryan blush with his stream of f-bombs. Fantastic! DC Sports Bog counted 31 f-bombs by the Caps' coach.
- The highlight of the show for me was Ovechkin defending the cross-check that got Semin ejected because it opened a big cut on the opposing player's neck, 'Maybe he has sensitive skin.'
- I had no idea NHL refs actually would tell players to 'finish the fight.'
- As I briefly mentioned above, Lars showed no personality. He may actually be a hockey robot.
Boudreau's first closeup interview definitely showed a little ketchup or something left on his face.
- My 2nd favorite quote was the Penguins rookie after having his entire room moved into the hotel hallway, "We are going to find whoever did this, and probably do nothing about it."
- I wish the Caps had a team competition in which the loser had to grow a mustache for a month.
- The Penguins have lost both games since episode 1 ended, so episode 2 could be very different.
- On the other hand, the Caps lost #7 in a row tonight, so maybe not.