Sunday, February 3, 2008

Capitals 0, Thrashers 2

One of the big blogs tenants these days is "don't rant" because there are far too many people who use their blogs as an outlet for their daily frustrations. So you'll have to excuse me.

I hate the Atlanta Thrashers. There's really no other way to put it. I hate their baby blue corporate-sponsorship uniforms, their hellish-maze of an arena, that when I played at Philips Arena they told us they'd provide water bottles and didn't, the television commentators who are like slightly knowledgeable fans, their dirty play over the last several seasons and the fact that they haven't yet fired Don Waddell.

That's really what it comes down to - the management and Don Waddell first and foremost. What I mean is, there's not a lot of inherent hatred for the Thrashers. It's not like with the Flyers, where the Broad Street Bullies history and association with Philadelphia means there will always be a bad taste in your mouth when you see the orange black, or the Penguins where the years of playoff battles mean that any Capitals fan feels an unreasonable amount of animosity whenever they see that damn cutesy Penguins logo. With the Thrashers it starts at the top and extends to the players, whom Waddell acquires like a nine-year-old who was magically given the chance to employ the strategies he uses in his PlayStation game on a real live NHL team:

  • Bobby Holik is old, so he must be the best choice for captain! No, in reality he's cranky, unproductive, slow and cries like he's Sidney Crosby his rookie year. The Thrashers announcers were lauding him for his style of play and saying it was beginning to rub off on the team. Now that's leadership: you're starting to rub off on the team after only 55 games.

  • Ilya Kovalchuk is the stereotypical Russian offensive dynamo: superstar level talent who is easily taken off his game, going after other team's agitators or laying cheap shots when he gets frustrated.

  • Eric Boulton is the worst kind of "enforcer" - one who doesn't fight, doesn't protect his teammates, has no skill and throws cheap shots.

There are exceptions to this of course. I like and respect many of the Thrashers' players including Slava Kozlov, Tobias Enstrom and Marian Hossa. Maybe it's just frustration - Atlanta isn't a great sports city, but it does have some great hockey fans and they deserve better. In that sense it's a bit reminiscent of John Ferguson Jr.'s tenure in Toronto - I've never considered myself a Leafs fan, but I was happy when Ferguson was canned because the fans and the city deserve better.

As for the actual game: the Capitals outplayed the Thrashers in just about every sense: they were faster, sharper, smarter, generated more chances, had a better turnover ratio and won more faceoffs. But the Capitals just couldn't finish, even one time on their 36 shots, and that was what cost them two points. It's hard to win when all the other team has to do is finish one time, even if you only allow them 13 shots on net.

The upside, I guess, is that the Capitals really were the dominant team and if they outplay their opposition by that big a margin (or can outshoot teams three-to-one), they won't lose too many games.

"We have to get a work-ethic goal. Somebody's got to go to the net and maybe take one in the ankle or something to get those goals. In the last five or six games we haven't had guys doing that. It's like they're sitting back and going, 'Alex, you score a couple goals and we'll win the game.' That's not how you win a division, make the playoffs or win consistently."

-Bruce Boudreau

Quick Hits

  • I don't care how talented he is - if I'm Bruce Boudreau, the next time Alexander Semin takes the team off the powerplay with a needless penalty he's riding the pine for the rest of the period.

  • The Thrashers must have treated Alex Ovechkin really well at the All-Star Game because he gave them at least three or four gifts in the form of missed chances.

  • That Eric Boulton sure is a hell of an enforcer. I mean who else can shove someone from behind when they're already engaged with another player?

  • The diving call on Alexander Semin had more to do with reputation than anything else. I mean, when the defender has his forearm around your neck you're probably going down, dive or not.

  • The Thrashers had 13 shots on goal; the Capitals had 36 shots on goal, 17 attempts blocked and 13 attempts miss the net.

  • According to Tarik, attendance was 17,205. Not too shabby.

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