Warning: Reality check ahead
Rather than relive yesterday's stomach-churning loss or delve into the game's minutiae (Sergei Fedorov won 17 of his 21 faceoffs... woohoo!), let's take a look at something even more painful - where this weekend has left the Caps' playoff dreams (hint: it's got a handle, a float, a flapper and a bowl).
It's this simple: the Caps have twelve games left and trail Philadelphia by six points for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and Carolina by seven points in the Southeast Division. Philly has a game in hand on the Caps, who have a game in hand on Carolina.
To put the task ahead in perspective, the Caps' best 12-game stretch of the season ran from December 26 through January 21, a span in which they went 9-2-1. The result of that remarkable run? They gained five points on eighth in the Conference and eight points on first in the SED.
The game in hand on Carolina is nice, as are the two games remaining between the two teams. But in all likelihood, the fact is that the Caps can go on a season-best streak and it will be too little, too late... which is fitting, considering that that's exactly what got them in the position they've been in since Thanksgiving - waiting too long to fire Glen Hanlon.
Oh, and one more depressing note (which, come to think of it, could actually be a silver lining) - the Caps are now twice as close to being back in the draft lottery as they are to a playoff spot.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
If you're at a point where you can have a sense of humor about yesterday, The Pensblog has a wickedly funny recap of the game.... Two years ago today, we made fun of a Toronto journo's dream. We're jerks.
- Hart: Andrew Cogliano (2G, including the OT game-winner, +2, 4 SOG)
- Ross: Robert Lang, Evgeni Malkin (3 points each)
- Norris: Niklas Kronvall (2A, +1, 2 SOG)
- Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist (29-save shootout shutout win)
- Richard: Johan Franzen, Andrew Cogliano, Sidney Crosby (2G each)
- Calder: Andrew Cogliano (2G, including the OT game-winner, +2, 4 SOG)
- Aiken: Patrick Lalime (OTL, 6 goals allowed on 25 shots against)
I didn't get to see either game, being snowed in at Cleveland from Friday to today, but it sure looks like the Caps managed to shoot to beat themselves in both contests. Having only read of the account I feel for Backstrom, who in his first year, has done so much for the squad. Making the playoffs looks grim indeed but I'll keep rooting for the Caps to succeed in their improbable comeback.
I'm not a big fan of reality checks.
throw the rest of them - go for the lottery. The rebuild will officially be over next year.
JP, I'm taking a contrarian view here. There were many goals for this team this year. Several of those, including making the playoffs, became unrealistic in the wake of the first 20 games. Many of them, though, have been a rousing success.
- Backstrom and Green have shown they were the talent we had hoped.
- We have our "bridge" goalie.
- We have a great coach for this type of team.
- The building is jumping during games.
- It is fun to be a Caps fan again.
Now, I came to the party late. Didn't start following the Caps until the '02-'03 season. I used to love going to the arena, and looked forward to the energy of the crowd. That's been missing, and I considered dropping my season tickets. In the last month, I was at the Rags game, the Bs game and the Pens game. And they were a *blast*. Yeah, today's game is a kick in the yam bags, but the crowd was roaring. The seats were filled.
So, no, I'm going to get down in the dumps about the playoffs. Would have been great, but this isn't the year. There are still a ton of positives.
- Soulie(Long time/First time)
There were many goals for this team this year. Several of those, including making the playoffs, became unrealistic in the wake of the first 20 games. Many of them, though, have been a rousing success.
I couldn't agree more with that sentiment, Soulie, and your list (though we don't have our "bridge" goalie signed yet). I didn't mean the season's in the crapper - just the playoff dream.
Not to get lost in the actual game, but I was wondering why there were no-calls on Bradley's SH semi-break, when he was wrapped up thoroughly by a Pens stick (and the Pens took that puck off the goal line and scored as the PP ended) and when Ovie broke across the Pens zone in the 3rd, beating two defenders, only to be tripped (pretty clearly, I thought) as he was letting the shot go.
In any case, the Caps haven't been able to do what the Pens, Bs, Flyers, and Hurricanes have been able to do in the 2nd half of the season, win 7-8 out of 10 when it counts. Since the All-Star break they've been up and down, doing just enough to keep it interesting without putting anything significant together to keep the playoff teams within reach.
This team will fall one point short of the playoffs, with 88 points and that final lost point will be a shootout loss to Florida in the season finale. I can see it all now.
*Goes and cries in a dark corner.
Sooner or later, everyone has to be a Goat at least once in their career. Guess poor Nicky was due. Hope he gets over it quickly. This was a painful weekend.
I see your point JP, but if the Caps win the one game they have in hand (realistic as they're winning more often than not) and both remaining ones against Carolina (a tougher task), they'd only be one out of the division lead. It's unlikely but it's still within the Capitals control to get just one point back from the division lead.
Most people are missing the most amazing thing that we as caps fans haven't been able to say - this weekend was the first time since Boudreau started that we actually lost two consecutive games in regulation. If that doesn't tell you where this team is headed, what does?? So many times in the past we've said "this team needs another scorer, another center, another goalie, another physical D." not the case (although a physical D would be nice). What this team needs is another year.
The rebuild wasn't over. We have now assembled (almost) all of the tools and have laid a damn good foundation. We have a foreman who has shown he is more than capable of overseeing this project and a team of workers with the talent and desire to succeed. This season was exciting and that's something we haven't really had in a while. I've never been one to shift thoughts to next season, but I won't hesitate to say I can't wait to see what happens.
I can say that I haven't been this disappointed over one loss in a very long time.
A couple of points - I think yesterdays flub by Nick tosses his Calder hopes away. But hey - things happen. The worst part is that Crosby gets credit for the game winner.
Pens now 10-1 when Crosby and Ovie are on the ice. That's not good.
And this all started when the Caps took over 1st place - in almost every big game since, they've found a way to come up short. I don't say that to rag on the Caps, but it's just that when they've had golden opportunities, they've missed out.
Just out of curiosity, how far back were the Islanders last year before they made that run to the playoffs? Obviously, I'm grasping at straws here but there are 12 games left and, on paper, there are no powerhouses on the schedule. Can they take 10 out of 12? Or am I just delusional from having banged my head against the wall too many times?
Yeah, my playoff dreams were dimmed after the Boston nightmare, and were instantly snuffed out for good with the Steve Smith, uh, I mean Niklas Backstrom debacle. Look, as for Nicky's mistake, there's no bitternes held. It happens. This kid will more than make up for it in his impending brilliant NHL career. As for Brash on Saturday, it's a different story. His 6 minutes of minors sequence was unacceptable from a veteran in such an important game.
So the meaning I will seek in the remainder of this season is now about stat-chasing. My hopes are that Ovy wins the Richard (in the bag) and Ross, with a chance for the Hart. BB will not get the Adams, nor Backstrom the Calder. This weekend sucked. Period.
Reality Check Wishful Thinking One-Timer: "It is the end of the year probably, but we just have to think we have a play, we don't give up and we still have a chance," said Ovechkin. (from today's Times article)
It's hard to muster anger toward Backstrom since the kid is obviously so gifted, and made a once in a career mistake (at the worst possible time in a regular season game that had major playoff ramifications and I had a G riding on the game but who's counting). I'm still pissed at Brashear for so obviously tossing that game down the crapper. Unbeleivable
1) Regardless of whom they were playing yesterday, Brashear didn't deserve a sweater! To take ONE minor in the offensive zone in the final 10 mins of a 1 goal game is benching-worthy. To take 3, deserves a few days off!
2) Is it exaggeration to say that the Caps season ended on that play, and not yesterday? Probably not.
3) Its also has to be disheartening to see 1/3-1/2 of your own building filled with opposition supporters. Haven't seen that kind of thing since Ranger fans filled the Nassau Coliseum. At least there its a mere 25 miles between arenas!
Can we address one thing - the massive misunderstanding of what constitutes a "kneeing" penalty. Twice this weekend we were treated to penalties for "kneeing" the opponent, one as a 5 minute major with intent to injure game misconduct.
Watching both of these plays in the replays, you can see that these were not kneeing penalties but rather people who are dodging hits. Same thing that happened with the Kovalchuk injury. One day they will learn to take a hit instead of dodge it and get their knees bashed.
Similar thing with the Ovechkin on Malkin hit. Read several Pens accounts that it was an elbow. I'm sorry...when you're little russian ducks down into curling position then he puts his head in prime elbow position. Take a fuggin hit.
end of rant against pansies.
I think that since kneeing is such a high-risk/high probability of injury play the league wants to assign a penalty to a player who is reckless and makes knee-to-knee contact, somewhat analogous to high-sticking. However, with that said, there's no way Cooke should have been ejected from Saturday's game. Intent to injure penalties should be reserved for just that, and given that Cooke didn't come in with his knee or stick it out to try and hit the other player it shouldn't have been 5 and a game. It was just another example of the refs being intimidated during that game - they saw the Boston player laying on the ice and had a 'well we gotta do something!' reaction. I think reputation played a role as well, both with the Ruutu on Kovalchuk hit and the Cooke play - if it's the "agitators" Cooke and Ruutu getting hit, I doubt it's the gate in either case.
I know and I agree with you, but I see it as a double edged sword and wonder whether some embellishment is being added because these players know what a big deal it is and that they will get their team a PP. Simple behaviorism - if you reward the behavior, it will increase and continue.
Yeah, the Pens fans at the game last night were insane.
I find the Pensblog site Extremely! childish. (writing gay over a picture?) Mildly funny recap. You childish humor is much more mature.
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