Anyway, the email chain turned into a serious discussion about the state of the Caps, so I decided to turn everyone's thoughts into a blog post. This was a long email chain, so I am breaking this into two posts and haven't edited almost anything.
Red Rover: I vascillate (Ed. Note: we use dictionary words in our spare time). On the one hand, we are not a very good team right now, like, at all. Not good on the power play, not good at possessing the puck, not outshooting the other team, our best players are not our best players right now, and there is a general feeling of flatness/malaise that feels like it's rotting this team from the inside out.
On the other hand, when I thought we were dominant last year, we crapped out in the playoffs, so it would appear that nothing in the regular season matters at all, and i mean nothing. Also we are now able to execute boring, ugly gameplans, where you can win without high-flying goal scoring, and we've seen a few games (Winter Classic, for example) where when you couple that boring defensive gameplan with 100% effort you can win 3-1 and look good, and that's what the playoffs are like and i don't see anything less than 100% effort happening come playoff time, but i've been wrong before about that. And we now have a shutdown D pairing that can also score (Carlson and Alzner) which is quite a luxury, plus if (knock on wood) Varly remains healthy, he's absolutely awesome. Then there's the hope that the law of averages damn will break come April and Ovi, Backstrom, Laich and Semin will all start scoring again in bunches, when it counts.
Then I watch a game again and I'm like goddamn, this team is not very good.
Bushwood Bushwacker: I had basically the same thought process the other night watching the Isles. I thought, "this team HAS to be better than the team we put on the ice last year - there is no way around it. there's no way the core did any worse than maintain, and all of the younger guys MUST have improved (plus obvious steps forward for Karlznerson, though you could say Carlson was really pretty nasty down the stretch last year, and this is just the continuation...) and we replaced Flash, Belanger, Theo and Corvo, with Hannan, Nuevlamoth 2.0, and Perrault/MJo. granted those guys minus the goalies have all been pretty meh, but all we really lost was Flash. and then i thought, well... this isn't the playoffs. maybe these guys have been burnt so badly by the overachieve-in-season/flop-postseason shitck that they just can't do it again. they are playing like an old, veteran NBA team, pacing themselves. Plus, there's the fact we did get pretty lucky last year looking at our shooting %. Maybe this is closer to the true talent of the team. But, I'm guessing not, since a lot of the missing production is Ovie/Back/Green, and those guys are sure as hell going to bounce back.
I have the feeling that as soon as the hockey world counts these guys out of the playoffs, and puts them outside of the circle of serious contenders, is when this team is going to play the best hockey they've played.........ever. Kind of a microcosm of that feeling is how often we come from behind and win games. For whatever reason, this team is a bunch of slackers who probably turned their theses (if they ever went to college...) in 30 seconds before the deadline.They just are built to perform best when they have the fire lit under their asses.
Gotta love being the underdog when you really shouldn't be, those teams are always dangerous.
I have hope.
I have hope.
RR: I do too, but the issue of course is WHEN that fire lights their asses. There will come a point when it's too late.
But like I said, the defensively oriented style is better built for a playoff series because it's more likely to lead to victories when they're not playing their best or when the other team is. The playoffs tighten everything and every team together in performance and ability; last year that meant the Caps' death knell because when their power play went bankrupt they had nothing else to lean on. So with this foundation in place now, we just await that give-a-shit spark to ignite (and the stars to pick it up, which we're all assuming is an inevitability).
The 2nd half will posted soon...thought you might need some time to digest....
(Image courtesy of dcprosportsreport.com)