Thursday, November 15, 2007

Accepting The Capitals

If it were not for one of the most prolific scorers of this era of the NHL, the Washington Capitals could easily slip through the cracks into the basement without so much as a sniff from the average fan. Having
been there for multiple years, the Capitals are starting to become a household name when it comes to teams you play your backup against.

After repeated years of poor play, the Capitals started this year with the beat of a different drum. 3-0-0 after their first three games, and beating teams like Carolina, Atlanta, and the Islanders, things were looking up in the United States Capital, but that would be rather short lived.

After finishing October with a record of 5-6, they proceeded to lose five of their next six games, tying them with Buffalo and Edmonton for the worst record in hockey. The basement never looked so bad for a team with an all-star talent like Ovechkin.

They are effectively porous at home and away, with very similar records, and considering that, it shows that the problem is not in the players heads. Probably the most disturbing statistic would be the 91
shots number 8 has taken on net, which has a 36 shot gap between him and second place. If Washington wants to be effective with the puck, they are going to have to rely less on their star player, and more on
their secondary scoring.

While Kolzig has had streaks of brilliance throughout the initial stages of the year, they will need to find a solution in goal if they want to compete for a stop in the top 8. With eight more goals against
than goals for, the Caps are going to need to make some serious adjustments to one of the aspects of their game so it can make up for their holes elsewhere.

So where should the Caps turn for support? Alexander Semin has been out for most of the season because of injury, and Kolzig is performing, but not to the standards of the new NHL. Should they start considering a player move, or should they look to the coach and GM for answers? I think it is a tough call because Washington did
such a huge overhaul with their roster during the last couple years. Last year I considered it a lack of respect and teamwork, but maybe it is time to start considering it a growth issue. Washington did in
fact put money into the system this year, and the results have been rather pedantic to say the least.

One thing is for sure. Washington is not getting the help they need to compete with the rest of the league. Whether it is a financial issue, or simply a player production issue, the Capitals need a serious
change in their system to have any hopes of making the playoffs this year. If I was the one running the show in Washington, I would be sitting down with Hanlon and letting him know that his days are
numbered if the basement is where he is directing this team. I would tell him to take the players off their pedestal and go right back to the basics until they can work as a unit. Develop the defensive game
with the forwards, and continue to rely on guys like Ovechkin to score the individual goals.

Are you willing to accept the Capitals for who they have become, or are you ready to fight for a chance to watch them play for the cup? The NHL Arena wants to hear what you think.

~ srotaneS