Three losses in a row. Mike Green now injured. The power play is broken. The star players are trying to do too much by themselves. They can't win faceoffs. They're not getting the big saves. The coach doesn't have the team properly focused. The captain isn't leading. The beer costs too much at the games.
Here, this will make it easier on you:
While last night's game against the Senators ended with the same result as the previous two Caps games, the effort was significantly better and, other than a brief second-period breakdown in concentration and a couple of unlucky bounces (Daniel Alfredsson's goal, Dainius Zubrus's post), the Caps played a red-hot Ottawa team pretty close.
Now, I'm not going to say that all is good in Capland - it clearly isn't, and all of the gripes listed above are legitimate, to varying degrees (and I do plan to address some of them soon). But there are positives too. For example, Steve Eminger continues to play well, and last night was rewarded for his strong play with his first goal of the season (and a helper to boot). Emmy finished the game with a +1 rating, joining Chris Clark (+1) and Lawrence Nycholat (+2) as the only Caps on the positive side of the ledger.
The biggest positive from last night, however, was the effort. No, it wasn't perfect. But it was better and against a very good team. I know we're beyond the point where the Caps can take solace in moral victories, but expecting them to waltz into Ottawa after that egg they laid in Miami and walk out with two points was not terribly realistic. Expecting a good effort was, and, for the most part, the Caps delivered on that. Hopefully they can build on that effort going forward.
To be honest, I'm more concerned with progress than playoffs at this point, and last night was progress. If the progression can continue, the train will be back on the tracks in no time.
- Hart: Marian Hossa (3G, +1, 6 SOG, 2 hits)
- Ross: Marian Hossa, Erik Christensen, Radek Dvorak, Ryan Kesler, Eric Brewer (3 points each)
- Norris: Eric Brewer (G, 2A, +3, 2 SOG, 3 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Roberto Luongo (30-save shutout win at Montreal)
- Richard: Marian Hossa (3G)
- Calder: Tony Salmelainen (A)
- Aiken, Pt. I: Scott Niedermayer (0 points, -5, 0 SOG)
- Aiken, Pt. II: Yutaka Fukufuji (L, 3 goals allowed on 9 shots against in just 21:53 of work)