Saturday, April 18, 2009

Caps stink it up, lose 1-0 to Rags and go down 0-2

I attended my first Caps game as a child in 1974 and have been sucker punched by them every year since then.  They've found every imaginable way to lose in the playoffs over the years or not make it, at all.  This game, the 2nd home ice game in the best of seven series against the New York Rangers was imperative for the Caps to win.  Instead, they put in a lackluster effort and are now down two games heading back to Madison Square Garden.   

The game was a disaster starting with the performance of Alex Ovechkin and including Mike Green, Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Semin, Michael Nylander, Sergei Fedorov, Tom Poti, Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann.   The players on this team who showed up to play include Matt Bradley, David Steckel, Nicklas Backstrom and the rookie net minder Simeon Varlamov. Varlamov didn't make the only stop he needed to, but that was a 2 on 1 breakaway in his first NHL playoff game after only playing 6 regular season games. I'll give him a break on that one.  He was pretty composed for the most part and he had every right to be nervous.

  • Coach Boudreau needs to change it up.  The lines aren't working and they're not getting past Henrik Lundqvist's body in net.
  • Ovie needs to stop playing like he can do it all himself.  He can't and he needs to work better with his teammates.  His 5 giveaways were 2nd only to Mike Green.
  • Mike Green played horribly with 7 giveaways, 1 penalty, minus 1 hockey in only 23:44 of ice time compared to 30+ the first game.
  • Surprisingly, the penalty killing unit played really well, killing off all 5 of the Ranger opportunities.
  • The checking line played aggressively and I always noticed Matt Bradley and David Steckel for good reasons.
  • Nicklas Backstrom continues to impress me in the playoffs and it's amazing how much he flies under the radar screen in the NHL. He's one helluva a hockey player and he's getting impossible to get off the puck even in the grittier environment of the playoffs.
  • Henrik Lundqvist is an elite net minder and is playing the part, but the Caps need to create traffic in front of the net to get scoring.  The coach, writers and players have been saying this all season long and, yet, the Caps still don't do it because they do not have the players that are willing to do that except for Brooks Laich.  They will be playing golf in April again if they don't start doing it.
  • GM George McPhee hasn't won a playoff series in 10 years with the teams he built and it's not looking good this year either.  
  • The Caps are playing worse than last year in the playoffs, so far, and that's the part that is downright depressing. 
The series heads to New York on Monday.  I'm hoping to see a different team show up, like the one that gave the Boston Bruins fits this season.

Let's go Caps!

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