Sunday, November 26, 2006

The (Lost) Weekend After


You go away for a few days and the Caps end up 0-3, get outscored 15-4, rack up 124 minutes in penalties, win only 42 percent of their faceoffs, give away the puck 47 times (but take it away only 29 times themselves), manage to convert 17.6 percent of their power plays while killing only 70.6 percent of the disadvantages . . . even the fights we caught on YouTube were boring.


As in . . . “wake the f**k up!

It would be hard to find anything coming out of the numbers of the last three games that could be considered good. These three games are a wake up call. Instead of 8-6-6 and on the inside of the playoff race, the Caps are now 8-9-6 and within sniffing distance of last in the conference (don’t look now, but Philly only has one fewer win than do the Caps).

What the heck went wrong? Well, The Peerless didn’t see any of these three games (being out of town and all), but some things do jump out of the numbers . . .

Alex Ovechkin had two goals, the rest of the club had . . . two goals (Pettinger, Klepis). Alexander Semin was out, Dainius Zubrus perhaps should have been (he’s got to be playing hurt – he has one point and is -8 for the last four games he’s dressed). It’s not as if they’re getting much non-first line production anyway (save for Matt Pettinger). No player who dressed for all three games has more plus than minus games, indicative of a team-wide meltdown.

By period, the problem – if not the solution – is pretty stark. The Caps were outscored 3-2 in the first period of these three games and by 3-1 in the third. But they were outscored 9-1 in the second period of these games. This has been a recurring problem this year. When they play themselves out of games, more often it seems than not, it is in the middle frame.

The Caps are 0-4-2 in their last six games. Growing teams go through this. One of the things such a team has to learn is how to stop the bleeding. The trouble is, things do not break in the Caps’ favor so far as the schedule goes the next couple of weeks. They go to Tampa (6-3-1 in their last 10), then home to Dallas (always a tough opponent for the Caps), home to Buffalo (‘nuff said), home to Ottawa (6-4 since their OT loss to the Caps), and home to Anaheim (two regulation losses this year). The combined record of these five teams is 73-32-10 . . .

Good luck, boys.