Sunday, January 4, 2009

Home on The Range (ers)

I'm really gonna get spoiled if every time I go to a game, they win.

I would really love to get a chance to survey the crowd and find out how many superstitious rituals are being invoked by fans before and during games so that the positive "mojo" isn't disrupted. Winning all the time feeds that engine like crazy.

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but there was a basketball game before the Caps played, and the building was on the warm side, so the ice surface looked like it was not in peak condition. Pucks were rolling, players were whiffing on passes and shots, and combine that with the pressure system the Rangers used... the game was somewhat less than elegant.

Kudos to the Caps for matching New York's effort and being able to clamp down defensively at 5 on 5. Considering the rather puzzling way that games are sometimes officiated nowadays, it comes as little surprise the special teams would determine the outcome. Mike Green is such a difference maker on the power play that it almost can't be overstated. Add him into a dynamic with Backstrom and the snipers... it's practically unfair.

Close, gritty games like this one also bring to light a wrinkle that's seldom mentioned when this team is discussed. The league-wide impression of the Caps is one of wide open attacking (run-and-gun) style. I think it's time to take the "wide open" part out of the description. As the season has worn on, our forwards, from the top down, have become extremely effective back-checkers, and our defense (even in light of the decimated roster) has been pretty smart about when to jump. Certainly, these guys love to attack, but I see more and more balance in Boudreau's system than most people outside of DC have been willing to give him credit for.

Comically, gritty games can also reveal a wrinkle that I will never forget, but hope to never see again. I could go into a mini-diatribe about how our stars get run all the time to the point where they have to take matters into their own hands- but I've been there, done that. Instead we focus on the bout between Alex Semin and Marc Staal:

You are looking live at the cafeteria of Columbia Middle School for the match-up of the day. Looks like tempers are starting to flare up over there by the cookie stand! There's shoving! And it looks like we have a rumble... they're wrestling, Marc just insulted Alex's momma. Marc slips! Alex is loose! (slap, slap, slap, slap). And the teachers are there to break it up. Looks like a trip to the Principal's office for Alex.

I don't mind that he was willing to show some spark. But if he never does that again...


Reed-CK said...

All the Alex Semin "the Siberian Slapper" talk has overshadowed that Theo and Clark had great games.

Nation's Capital said...

Clark really did play well, he should've awarded himself the "hard hat".