Saturday, February 23, 2008

Caps @ Hurricanes 2-23-2008 Post-Mortem

This posting may not be suitable for minors... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • So much for the Jessica Simpson excuse, A.O. busts his slump with a three assist day to move himself into sole possession of 20th on the Caps All-Time Scoring list tying and then passing Ryan Walter in today's game. He's now 4 points behind Craig Laughlin who is in 19th at 283 points and 1 point off the NHL lead for this season.
  • You have to like the start that the Caps got off to today. The players knew how important the game was and what Carolina would be bringing and they were able to match it for the first 15 minutes.
  • Despite today's game, we're still not talking about "our problem."

THE BAD:

  • Was it me or did the Caps seem to go into "point protection mode" after Brooks "and Dunn" Laich's goal tied it at 3 with almost 11 minutes left in the second period? That's a bad idea in any game lettalone a MUST WIN IN REGULATION game like today's
  • How many other Caps forwards would have buried the chance that Tomas Fleischmann flubbed in the second period? Do we even have to count?
  • The Penalty Killing today was 3 for 7. The fact that this is in the "BAD" category cannot be a good sign for the "UGLY" category coming up. The Penalty Killers saw their 22 consecutive kills streak come to a horrible end.

THE UGLY:

  • Let's start this off with the John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles Bonehead Move of the Game which once again goes to Head Coach Bruce Boudreau who not only continues to insist upon playing the slow footed, dim-witted defenseman, but paired him today with Sami Lepisto who played like a rookie defenseman in his second NHL game. It really makes you wonder just what Steve Eminger has (or has not) done to deserve being a healthy scratch over a rookie for what amounts to a playoff game. Furthermore, the Coach's Pet was a -2 today because he was incapable of clearing bodies and rebounds despite being considered the "rugged" defenseman we desperately need. Lepisto was also a -2 and on occasion did not show the puck moving skills everybody raves about. One thing is for certain though, the Canes are not the Ning and I cannot believe that Eminger would have been worse than either of these guys today.
  • Just one week ago after two good performances, everybody was signing the praises of Olie Kolzig and announcing his renaissance. Yet here we are now are these same people going to talk about Kolzig's declining skills again? He didn't let in any soft goals today but he put himself into bad positions because he wasn't controlling rebounds and because the defense wasn't clearing those rebounds for him; the Canes ran away with this game. Sorry Olie, either the defenders have to change or you have to change. Which one do you think will be easier to do?
  • A special note for referees Dan O'Halloran and Justin St. Pierre whose officiating today left a lot to be desired and made me wonder just what the NHL was thinking assigning these two to a game this important this late in the season. Their officiating turned the game around in Carolina's favor when they made 5 borderline calls (the last four in a row) against the Caps. The biggest indication of their bias was the high sticking calls they made in the third period against Eric Cole and Viktor Kozlov. A.O. wasn't bleeding so Cole rightfully didn't get a double minor on the play; but neither was Tim Gleason when Kozlov was hit with a double minor. To make matters worse, the only reason why Kolzov's stick hit Gleason in the first place was because Gleason was holding it and Kozlov yanked it away as he went after the puck. Why that wasn't a holding the stick call on Gleason is amazing to me.

There are optimists out there who will point out that the Caps can still make the playoffs, but seriously folks, do you want to see more games like this? Because this is what you're going to see should the Caps make the playoffs this season. Like Wednesday night, this wasn't pretty and any playoff appearance we make this year will be over in four games, maybe five if we get lucky. Would I rather the Caps be on pace for another 70 point campaign, selling off assets at the deadline, and vainly trying to play a spoiler role this late in the season? No, and as a matter of fact, this is about where I thought this team would be. We're good enough to get into the playoff picture and have a chance at making it very late in the season, but not good enough to actually make it into the playoffs. While there is no denying that we've come a long way even in this season, there's a lot of work left to be done on this rebuild and it is far from being over.

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