A little more than a week ago, an article entitled “The Washington Capitals — Hanging By A Thread” chronicled half a dozen reasons why the Capitals playoff chances were fading quickly. Since that date, there’s been little, if any reason, to change that opinion. There are certainly those who will argue that over the period since the 9th of March, the Capitals have a 3-1 record. However, the wins and losses — while encouraging — don’t come close to telling the whole story.
Let’s bore down into some of the details of those four games:
- Three of the four games played since March 9th were against teams below the Capitals in the Eastern Conference standings (Toronto, New York Islanders, and Winnipeg).
- The Caps were outshot in three of the four games. In the fourth, the Capitals managed to equal the Islanders’ 23 shot total.
- Washington has collected almost twice as many penalties as their opponents — 30 penalty minutes for Washington versus 16 for the opposition.
- Every one of the four teams played in the last week has out-hit Washington — some by dramatic margins.
But even those numbers and statistics don’t explain why people are beginning to wonder if the Capitals even have the heart to make it to the playoffs. All one has to do is watch the full 60 minutes of any one of Washington’s recent games in order to see reasons to worry. A number of the Capitals appear to simply be going through the motions. Not so much, at least in the opinion of this correspondent, the young players. Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perrault, Dmitry Orlov, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, and others of that experience level are working hard every single shift. It’s sad, however, that the highest paid ‘stars’ are not. Watching the Capitals captain simply wave his stick in a half-hearted fashion while on defense is symbolic of what’s been ailing the Capitals all year long.
Bruce Boudreau wasn’t able get the Capitals to stop reading their press clippings and start playing the gritty hockey needed for long-term success. In the end, it cost him his job. Thus far, Dale Hunter hasn’t either.
It’s truly disheartening to watch a team with as much talent as the Caps continue to implode. But, unless every single player begins to play with the intensity and drive of their rookie teammates, the plunge past the bottom playoff position will continue until it’s too late to recover.
Here’s hoping that something will cause the alarm clock to go off in the Capitals locker room — soon!
Let’s Go Caps