Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mr. Churchill Says

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~ Winston Churchill

Churchill was unquestionably a badass. In addition to that pearl of wisdom, among the countless other inspirational quotes he dropped on the world was this one: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." I'm not sure the Caps are quite going through hell (yet?), but things have certainly gone from bad to worse for them lately. And while I'm no optimist, one doesn't have to look far to see that opportunities abound, both for the team and for individual players.

Can the team win games (or at leat remain competitive) without their leader? Can the power-play regain its effectiveness? Can Glen Hanlon keep the team's morale up? Can Alex Ovechkin step up and carry the team the way another super soph is carrying his squad? Can Brent Johnson justify the extension he recently signed? Can Jeff Schultz and Eric Fehr continue to play at an NHL level and make the decision to send them back to Hershey all the more difficult? Can fee-agents-to-be Brian Sutherby, Brooks Laich, Milan Jurcina and Steve Eminger prove to the team that they are worth re-signing?

There are as many questions facing this team and its players as ever before, but many of them will be answered over the course of the next two months on the ice by the team itself. After all, it's just as Churchill said: "Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."

UPDATE: It looks like Caps Nut and I are on pretty much the same page.


Tyler said...

Eminger and Jurcina are mortal locks, even if they both go minus-four every night between now and April.

Eminger's played really well the last 20 games or so -- he's really stepped up as injuries have hit the Caps' blueline.

Question: Why are Caps fans so eager to jump on d-men? Witness the way some folks are clobbering Mike Green right now. Jeesh. Meanwhile, complaints about the recently absent A. Semin? Not so much.

JP said...

Jurcina has had a nice start and I tend to agree that he looks like a keeper, but as a rule I personally wait 10 games before passing judgment on a player (and if he's minus-88 on April 1, the April Fool's joke will be on the Caps).

And yes, Eminger is a lock, but for him its more a question of playing well enough so that when he sits down at the table with his idea of what he's worth, he's not laughed out of the room.

I agree that the D-bashing, especially of the younger guys, tends to show a misunderstanding of the developmental track of a defenseman. That said, Greenie probably could use a game or two off every now and then to refocus and recharge.

Semin has been absent of late in large part because of the implementation of the trap, but I think we also need to realize that he's an incredibly streaky (read: occassionally indifferent) player.

Anonymous said...

JP - Been reading for about a year now, and I've found I watch the game differently because of it. For the better. Two observations: Semin was utterly MIA during the Rangers game. Just seemed like he never got his head in the game. Number two, Clark does a ton of the so-called "Little Things". Just always seems to have his positioning down, making the poke check on the PK, etc. etc. It's been eye-opening.

JP said...

Thanks - that's probably among the highest compliments I've gotten.

I agree about Semin - he's clearly not a big fan of the trap and seems to be pouting about it.

I also agree on Clark. People talk about how his offensive production is owed entirely to lining up with AO - which is true. But what they don't say as often is that Clark's defensive responsibility, digging in the corners, etc. allows AO to freelance a little more and be as productive as he is.

Tyler said...

Also on Clark: He might be the second-fastest guy on the team after AO.

Green: He was fine before his foot injury, he was so-so for about two weeks afterward (moving awkwardly and slowly), and he's been fine since.

JP said...

Don't forget Greenie's biggest handicap - being paired with Heward.

Tyler said...

LOL -- that's how you could tell that the shot off his boot had slowed him. Heward was moving faster!