When you can’t win, it’s how you play the game.
Let’s not bullshit ourselves; the 2013 Capitals may not qualify for the playoffs this season. It’s a shitty reality, but it’s not the end of the world. Two years ago, the Devils missed the playoffs only to find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals the very next season.
The wins and losses are not what concern me this season; it’s the way the Capitals are losing. It’s one thing to lose to a superior team; it’s a completely different thing when you lose out of intimidation. Matt Hendricks should not be forced to fight twice in one game. Yes, it was pretty chickenshit of the Bruins to corner our favorite tough guy in his second fight, but why didn’t someone come in and stick up for him? Remember Matt Bradley? He wouldn’t let Ovechkin be baited into a fight, 3rd man-in penalty be dammed.
Apparently the Bruins were mad that Nate Horton “had to fight” with Matt Hendricks. Never mind that just seconds earlier Brad Marchand engaged into a fight with perennial NHL brusier Mike Ribero (I give Ribsy a lot of credit for standing up for himself.). So the Shawn Thorton and Adam McQuaid decide to corner Matt Hendricks. Of course, since Hendo plays with class and respect, engaged with McQuaid.
In the moment, I was livid that the Bruins challenged a guy who had fought earlier in the game. Now that I think about it more, I’m more upset that a fellow Capital didn’t intervene for one of his teammates. This should never happen. You don’t allow your teammate to be forced into a fight when TWO opponents are gunning for him.
Yeah, I know that there are extra penalties for a guy that jumps into a fight when two guys are squared-off, but at certain times you have to say, “Fuck it! That’s my teammate and I’ve got his back!” and get your hands dirty. The game misconduct and a possible suspension be dammed, sometimes you have to send a message to your opponent: Mess with our guys, and you will have to answer.
After the game, Karl Alzner said this:
The fact that they let those guys corner a guy like that. For all they know Hendy had a broken hand and he can’t fight. If we would’ve done that to [Bruins star Tyler] Seguin, you know, [John Erskine] and Hendy? You think they would’ve let that happen? It’s questionable, very questionable… Go after one of their guys. I guess that’s the only thing you can do. We’re probably not going to do that because we’re not that kind of team. But that’s the only thing you can do.
There’s one problem with this statement. You guys are losing the game and being intimidated. SOMETIMES, YOU HAVE TO BE “ONE OF THOSE TEAM”. For the love of God, show some intensity. You can’t sit and talk about how your team is disrespected after the game when you allow yourselves to get pushed around during the game. Throw an elbow, slash the shit outta their skill guys and then answer the bell when you’re challenged. It shouldn’t be left up to ONE GUY to stand up for the entire team. Respect goes both ways, of course you have to respect the other team, but you have to respect your own team just as much.
So, my challenges to the Capitals have this theme: BECOME THAT TEAM.
- Nobody messes with Ovechkin, Ribero, Backstrom, Mojo etc. without the proper retaliation.
- Retaliation means both fighting with enforcers AND messing with their skill guys. A two-handed chop to the ankles goes a long way, just ask Bobby Clarke.
- Nobody jabs at Holtby or Neuvirth without getting hit.
- Penalties be dammed, suspensions be dammed. NOBODY DISRESPECT’S YOUR TEAM.
- Don’t EVER let another team intimidate you.
- Step up for your teammates. It’s not entirely up to Hendricks, Erskine and Olesky to get dirty.
This season is no longer about winning. It’s about forming an identity for next season. Let it be known to everyone throughout the NHL that the Capitals are a fearless team that won’t be intimidated. No questionable hit will go unanswered. No player will ever be goaded into a fight by two opponents ever again.
This is what can turn a franchise around. Ask the Broad Street Bullies or the Edmonton Oliers. Shit, even ask the Boston Bruins.
“Grab your sack and fucking compete!”
I’m a little late to this the party, but the holiday season is now here and we are all still without NHL hockey. Luckily for myself, I have been a college hockey fan longer than an NHL fan (still blaming you for this, Norm Greene) so I have a team to boisterously root for. However, in the event you haven’t hitched yourself to another AHL, ECHL, College or Junior team, here is a list of some things you can do to pass the time on those nights when you were supposed to be watching the Caps.
- Drink alcohol
- Binge drink alcohol
- Revive the prank call
- Make a path in the woods
- Have you ever noticed that nobody ever starts paths? We have no problem using existing paths, but somewhere along the line, humans lost the ambition to make new paths.
- Polish your shoes
- Drink massive amounts of alcohol
- Clean your oven
- Change the air your car’s spare tire
- Call your mother and complain
- Call your father and listen to him complain about your mother
- Call your sister to listen to her complain about your mother and father
- Call your in-laws to listen to them complain about you
- Watch figure skating
- Stretch your hammy
- Start collecting things
- Read a book
- Play a drinking game
- Go streaking
- Ride the metro just to see where the green line ends
- Yell at the neighborhood kids to stop roughhousing
- Make a sammich
- Make ME a sammich
- If it gets REALLY bad, and you have exhausted this list, try watching basketball…while binge drinking of course.
Feel free to make your own little Lockout Activities worksheet. You could even cross things out once you complete them!
“Hola amigos, I know it’s been awhile since I rapped at ya.” – Jim Anchower, the Onion.
Well, what can I say? So many things have changed since I last blogged about anything. The Caps made a run, with a thrilling 7-game series victory over the Bruins. We all got a case of the Stanley Cup fever until our dreams were dashed that night in New York. Now, our favorite team is again searching for its identity, as well as a new head coach. In other news, I am no longer trapped in the North watching Caps games alone from the outside. For those of you who don’t know, I have recently relocated to the DC area. For the record, I love it here.
Anyhoo, I just wanted to get back on the blogosphere, and also, I was reminded my WordPress that I needed to renew my domain. So more to follow in the coming weeks including my offseason wish list and the story of how a Caps fan in Minnesota found himself moving to DC (well, maybe, if I get bored enough, J )
So until then, enjoy the off-season a little.
LET’S GO CAPS!
~MinnyCapsFan (still using this name though)
I have been a Caps fan going on 14 years now. I will admit, I haven’t been this passionate about the Caps for that entire time, but for the past 6 years, I have been as dedicated a Caps fan as I can be. I got used to the winning ways. It usually goes like this: the Caps have an active off-season, a brilliant regular-season, and at best, heartbreak inducing post-seasons.
The 2011-2012 Capitals are the most frustrating team that I can remember. Not since the pre-lockout days have Caps fans been so down in the dumps, granted, I’m sure there were fewer of us then. Back when the Caps were a terrible team, with terrible black home sweaters (yeah, I went there) the seasons were disappointing for sure, but they also were not as frustrating. The team was losing a lot, but then again barring a miracle, losing seasons were expected.
Then all of the sudden, the Caps won the draft lottery and picked up that kid from Russia; and things started to come together. The roster was soon switched from a rebuilding team to a Cup contender. We watched the regular season wins pile up, and we all suddenly had visions of that shiny, silver Cup being hoisted over the National Mall on a sunny day in June. We saw late season runs in almost every season since the lockout. Winning streaks and dominant hockey that either helped the Caps clinch a playoff spot, or solidify their standing. The Caps always seemed to peak in late-February and March.
This season, it seems the spark is gone. We are already looking past this season, and into the offseason. We have begun speculation as to who will be coming back, who will be removed from their jobs, and how the team can compete next year. Baseball spring training is already starting to fill up my Twitter timeline. And most of the Caps chatter has a nothing but negative references.
Now I’m as much of a realist as I can be. I know the chances of the Caps making a deep run in the playoffs are growing bleaker and bleaker with every loss. I’m not going to call out every pessimistic Caps fan and tell them to have faith. In all honesty, they are probable right in their assumptions anyway. The team just isn’t winning the games that they must win. Besides, people are entitled to their opinions, and unless you are a complete moron, I will respect people’s opinions.
But this is what I want. I want the Caps to give me a reason to hope. I want someone wearing a Red Sweater to put the team and the City on his back and say: “Follow me to the Promised Land fellas!” I want the Caps to come together, right now, and commit themselves to see this season through to the end. I want the Caps to give people a reason to bring signs into Verizon Center that say “BELIEVE”. I want to hear the fans cheer again.
I want to see that spark and desire of a team that will never quit on themselves, their teammates, their coaches and staff, their fans or their city. I want to see players doing whatever they can to help the team win. I want to see emotion, and a “never say die” attitude on the bench. When the camera zooms in on the Caps bench, I want to see fierce determination in the eyes of every player. Teams that are committed to winning, never stop pursuing victories, despite whatever the score is.
Will this be all the Caps need to make a run and get into the playoffs this next month? Probably not, but that doesn’t so much matter to me. I want to see what this team is made of. This is a time where everyone is auditioning for the team, other teams in the league, and for their fans. If I were a player, I wouldn’t ever want anyone to think that I am a quitter who’s looking forward to an off-season and a fresh start. I would make everyone know that I don’t give up on anything.
So there it is Caps. Playoffs or no playoffs, give me a chance to have hope this last month. Give me a reason, to believe.
After all, what else is there?
Earlier this morning, I saw a tweet about the Caps and it has consumed me ever since. Rarely does something I read on Twitter throw my mind into state of anger, but this tweet really got to me. Here is said tweet.
Come on, really? What about the other guys on the TEAM? It’s all up to Ovi? What do you think he has been doing for the past two months? Ovechkin has been busting his ass trying to carry this team; and for all you people who complain about his lower goal totals, THERE IS MORE TO HOCKEY THAN SCORING GOALS. How about finishing your checks? How about attracting the attention of defenders allowing others to get open? How about jumping all over your best friend on the team for making in ill-advised pass that led to a turnover? Clearly since he isn’t getting 4 points every night, this is all on him. I mean c’mon man. Ovi has been playing so hard, even Mike Milbury is commending him for it! By the way, clearly the world is ending this season.
Here’s another thing. Before people criticize the play of the team, or the actions of the coach. Learn about the game. So Recker didn’t get in a fight against the Lightning, and didn’t play against the Habs. The coaching staff and front-office had their reasons for bringing him up. In case you didn’t notice, Matt Hendricks was promoted from checking line duties to scoring line duties. Scoring line guys aren’t enforcers, as their SKILLS are needed other places. Also, did you happen to notice any Bolt taking liberties with a Vokoun or any other Caps player post-whistle? I sure as hell didn’t. So before you blast Dale Hunter for bringing up an enforcer who doesn’t fight, learn the NHL game.
I’m also getting really sick of people criticizing the play of many members of this team. There is more to hockey than scoring goals. (Read that sentence again.) People seem to think that the only measure of how a player’s season is going is by looking at 2 things, goals scored and projected goals scored. While this gives one a glimpse on how a guy’s season is progressing, it in no way encapsulates a player’s season. Case in point: Matt Hendricks has 3 goals this season. Do you think this he plays empty minutes because he isn’t scoring every night? Joel Ward is in a bit of a scoring drought. Not shocking given that he has been spending most of his time on the 3rd and 4th lines this season. 3rd and 4th line guys aren’t paid to score goals. They are paid to defend against the top offensive lines of opposing teams. Just like Alex Semin and Ovi aren’t paid to play defense. They are paid to score goals. I’ll give you that they are lacking in this departent this year, but blasting a guy for leaving the d-zone early to open up the ice is just dumb.
Back to my original argument, it’s not all up to Alex Ovechkin to get this team into the playoffs. Yes, the team is riddled with injuries and losses are more common this season. Yes, the team isn’t meeting the lofty goals set at the start of the season. Yes Ovi and Sasha aren’t scoring goals as often as they have in the past. So the fuck what?
Playoff caliber teams have the testicular fortitude to overcome setbacks and win games. The Caps have been doing this. So what if they are not running away with the division and conference lead? They are consistently in the playoff hunt, and guys are stepping up to fill voids. (Not so fast John Carlson). This team, with the absence of Mike Green, Nick Backstrom and possibly Brooks Laich, could easily fold and wait to rebuild. I don’t see that happening. I see most of the players on the team stepping up with fierce determination. Look at Columbus. They have talent, yet they are in a slump from which they won’t recover. Do you see the Caps signaling retreat and not putting forth any effort? Do you hear about players demanding to be traded? Do you hear players complaining about a lack of fan support? Have the fans stopped showing up to Verizon Center and are the ratings on CSN plummeting? I haven’t noticed any of this.
I see guys like Mathieu Perreault scoring hat tricks. I see Matt Hendricks hustling his ass off. I see Joel Ward still camped in front of the net taking all sorts of punishment for defenders. I see Mike Knuble working his ass off. I see Brooks Laich on crutches on Sunday then lobbying the coaching staff to let him play on Tuesday. I see Jeff Schultz putting forth his “best effort” when he gets a jersey. I see Dimitry Orlov slamming his equipment down in anger when he broke his nose (again). I see Ovi supporting his team on and off-the-ice during his suspension.
So no, it isn’t all up to Ovi. Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard couldn’t do it on their own. Mario Lemieux wasn’t on his own. Sidney Crosby needed Malkin. Jarome Iginla hasn’t done it on his own? Shit, there are two identical Sedins, they haven’t done it on their own. Why makes you think Ovi should?
The onus is on every member of this team to step it up, and make the run to the playoffs. I see almost every guy on the team busting his ass trying to win hockey games. I don’t see them looking at Alex Ovechkin looking for guidance and leadership. I see a team all trying to elevate their game to match the passion and intensity that Alex Ovechkin shows every night.
It’s a good thing too, because we can’t afford Alex Ovechkin to be day-to-day with a back injury.
Let’s Go Caps!
Minny Caps Fan.
Alex Ovechkin’s been Shanabanned. I’m over it. There is no use complaining about it anymore, it’s over and won’t be reversed.
I’d like to look at this situation positively. Ovechkin has been carrying the Capitals recently, and his back could definitely use a little break. Over the past month, Ovi has elevated his game, while attempting to fill the void left by Nick Backstrom. He has been consistent offensively, and while he isn’t scoring goals every game, he is moving his feet driving the net, delivering checks, and being a force in the offensive zone.
This week, with the absence of Ovi, Backstrom AND Green for the first time since many people have paid attention to the Caps, the other guys on the team find themselves in a rare predicament. All but 1 of the so-called “offensive superstars” are out of the lineup and the remaining Caps must now all step up to fill the void. Passing the puck to Ovi and letting his play determine the outcome of the game is no longer possible. Every player from Semin to Hendricks to seldom-used Jeff Schultz will have to elevate their game, both in practice and during games.
Who will step up and be a leader? The easy money is on Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks. These guys are always looked upon as motivators and team leaders. While we count on Knoobs, Brooksy and Hendo to lead, it’s time for everyone to sack up and play. Brouwer, Johansson, Hamrlik, Wardo, and Alzer, I’m looking at you guys. It’s time for you all to elevate your play, and “want it.” Alex Semin, the team needs you too. Step up and be a leader on the ice. You’re team and your fans need you. This team is currently without much “talent” but if the “heart” guys can come together, the Caps should be fine.
Now the season will be over before we know it. It’s time for the “role-players” and “heart and soul” guys to define the character of this team. Will they wilt and die because the all the All-Stars are absent, or will they seize the opportunity to bask in the limelight, and work hard enough to win a few games on grit and hard work? I would like to think that they can, but it’s now time to prove it.
I believe that these next 3-5 games will determine the outcome of the 2011-2012 season. It will also show us just what this Capitals team is made of. Championship caliber teams are able to overcome adversity, and find a way to win. But it only works if everyone is committed to the same goal. I believe in them, the question is, will they believe in themselves? I think that if they don’t they will after the 1st period tonight.
So no excuses boys, skate your asses off, finish your checks, crash the net and score dirty goals. It’s could just save our season.
LET’S GO CAPS!!!
Minny Caps Fan
Ok, so I’ve been missing for about a month now. Despite my blogging absence, I have been clinging to my TV and I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the Caps in person last week. I just haven’t found the urge to write anything about the Caps in a long time. Now, you could attribute much of my absence to the Caps’ on-ice struggles in November and December. I have said many times, I am not going to blog about statistics, coaching decisions or propose trades that I think will lead to victories. I still believe that since I am not paid by the team or media organizations for my opinions on the Caps, I just waste my time by sharing them, as they most likely just show exactly what a rube I am.
What I can discuss is the reaction of many a fellow Caps fan. Now I love my team, and will criticize them to no end when I see a lack of effort or flat, uninspired play. But, they are my team, and win or lose I will continue to support them. As an avid user of social media, I have dealt with reactions all over twitter who thought the Caps dismal November was a sure sign of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, only to see the same people, after 4 straight wins, ready to coronate the Caps as Stanley Cup champions. Simmer down people; we’re not even to the all-star break.
The amount of people who were ready to “Trade Ovechkin” was sickening. The same people who were inspired to follow hockey because of Ovechkin, were calling for his head after he had the audacity to have a bit of a slow start. Well, Ovi has at least temporarily; found his scoring touch again and funny, now they all love him again. Here’s the reality, Ovi will most likely endure another scoring slump sometime before the end of the season. If you all are planning to burn your Ovi sweaters, be careful with those torches, you don’t want to burn yourself.
Fans have criticized every member of the team, often times unfairly. Fans who claim to be “Diehard Caps Fans” on their twitter bio’s were threatening to boycott the Caps until they started winning again. Well, they have, so y’all can come back. But please, keep your mouth shut. Yes the team is showing signs of improvement, but there is a very good change that they will endure another slump before the end of the season. If you are going to throw yourself onto the Metro tracks in front of a Red Line Train, please don’t do it during rush hour.
As I have said countless times before, it’s a long season. For people new to hockey, this may be difficult to adjust to. With the parity in the NHL, on a given night, the worst team in the league is capable of beating the best team in the league. It’s not like football. Many things have to go the right way to win a hockey game. The puck bounces, sticks break, refs aren’t always in the right position, the ice has damaged spots, and guys get sick, hurt or injured. Losses happen and sometimes there isn’t a way of explaining it. The last time I checked, no NHL team has gone 82-0 through the regular season. As for playoff positioning, as Caps fans, y’all should know that seeding and matchups don’t mean shit if your team shows up and wants it more than the other team.
So here we are, a new year, and a fresh team that is welcoming Mike Green back to its’ lineup. The power play is heating up, and the Caps are scoring goals when they need to again. It’s been a fun couple of weeks to be a Caps fan. But be careful of becoming overconfident again. In fact, if you haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution yet, consider this: “I will become a true Caps fan, and will support my team and if they lose a few games in a row, it’s cool, I won’t think the world is ending.”
Happy New Year and Let’s Go Caps!