Saturday, December 1, 2007

Capitals Unable to Overcome Bad Luck; Worse Refs

Capitals 3, Hurricanes 4

I wrote on Friday that the Capitals had all too often been the victims of bad luck this year. It appears that's still the case.

When an opposing player misses the net, but hits someone else on his team in chest with the puck, which then falls at his feet for a tap in goal, you're dealing with some crap luck.

When you have an important late-period goal washed out because it failed to beat the buzzer by two tenths of a second, you're dealing with some crap luck.

When the other team scores from behind the goal line, by throwing the puck off your netminder and your best player's stick, you're dealing with some crap luck.

When the other team slashes your second-best offensive player in the offensive zone badly enough that he has to be helped off the ice with 15 seconds left and the result is a faceoff down near your goal and no penalty call you're dealing with some crap luck (and crap referees). Oh, by the way, Donald, next time the Caps play the 'Canes, take the two minute minor and ten minute misconduct and beat down Dennis Seidenberg.

When you lose a powerplay because your player (Mike Green) high-sticks the opposition (Chad LaRose after being hooked and is sent to the box you're dealing with some crap luck (and crap referees). That play should have resulted in a 5-on-3 for the Capitals since LaRose hooked Green and touched the puck before Green high-sticked LaRose. Instead 4-on-4 and an abbreviated 'Canes powerplay. Crap luck.

I have no idea what the Capitals have done to anger the hockey gods. Maybe it's that the Capitals don't have enough Canadians on the team (eight by my count), maybe the hockey gods are Japanese and hate their homeland's reputation being sullied by "Nanking", or perhaps it's just that Steve Stamkos is destined to be a Capital.

The Capitals still need to go on a run to get themselves back into the playoff picture and I still think they can do it, and will look for them to do so after Boudreau gets his five days off to work with the team without the pressures of a game. Picking up two against an inferior Panthers team tomorrow night is essential though.

I'm wondering if it would be worth it to start a section called "Laughlin's Laffers" where each game I'd chronicle the most absurd thing said by Craig Laughlin in the previous game's telecast. If I had such a section, tonight's would have been "I thought fans in Greensville were excited for hockey!" when he and Joe B. were discussing the move of the Hartford Whalers to Carolina. First of all, it's Greensboro, not Greensville. Secondly, the 'Canes played there for two seasons, in which they drew 9,086 and 8,188 fans per game.

Quick Hits

  • After Ovechkin's early goal Laughlin noted "that's the way you quiet a crowd". Good point. I'm sure those 628 people in their seats at the game's start were making a hell of a lot of noise and really intimating the Capitals. Or maybe it was that the Calgary-esque "Sea of Red" from all the empty seats around the arena.
  • What's the deal with the Hurricanes sounding the horn when an opposing team has a goal waived off?
  • Nice first period for Laing. He skated 5:02, and had three blocked shots. Apparently he told Joe B. before the game all he wanted to do was be in the right position and grind it out. I believe that's called "knowing your role".
  • From his gait I thought it looked obvious that Alexander Semin was in pain when he was skating. From the rest of his play it's obvious his hands aren't as deft as he's used to and he's still not used to playing at NHL game pace. That said I thought he was still quite effective at getting open in the offensive zone and making the Carolina defense either make plays or take penalties.
  • Comcast briefly showed Donald Brashear running around the ice in his spandex shorts/jock and a windbreaker and, believe it or, it indicated to me part of the reason he's not a great hockey player: his legs didn't look particularly strong. If you notice, a lot of elite players in the NHL don't have massive upper bodies, but have really strong legs (Ovechkin is one of them). Makes sense given that the most important part of any players game is skating ability.
  • Did you see Kolzig and LaRose nod to each other they were okay after their collision on the penalty shot and LaRose give Kolzig a little tap on the pads? It's stuff like that that makes me think hockey is the classiest sport at the pro level. Think about it - you never see NFL linemen ask the quarterback is he's okay after a sack (they're generally too busy prancing around).
  • It wouldn't shock me to see Ovechkin one day pull a Bill Gramatica and hurt himself celebrating.

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