Caps woes now, could lead to better things

December 17, 2010 | Paul Hoke

To say the very least, I’m concerned.  After 7 straight losses, I’m concerned with the direction of my Washington Capitals.  Mostly because, over the past couple seasons, stretches like this just hasn’t happened.  And the way that they are losing is really concerning because it involves something I never thought an Ovechkin-led Caps team would ever struggle through…a lack of scoring.

Although it may not be as simple as that.  It’s not the lack of goals or scoring that has me concerned, it’s the lack of scoring chances.  The Caps just aren’t creating chances inside the opponent’s zone, and to me, that all starts with the Caps Big Three of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom.  During this seven game stretch, the Caps have been shutout twice (Florida and NY Rangers), and scored just one goal in 3 games (Dallas, Atlanta, and Anaheim).  It’s a power outage that we never would have expected from this edition of the Washington Capitals, and I’m not sure what the problem is, but #8 just isn’t #8.  The DC nightlife?  Lack of offseason conditioning?  Or is it that after all these years, the NHL has developed a book on him?  To me, I think it’s a combination of all three, but what I’m not seeing from the Great 8 is the explosion when he has the puck in the offensive zone.  What I mean by that is, when Alex gets his stick on the puck, he doesn’t have that knack to create chances the way we are used to seeing, and that is killing this offense right now.  In a manner, we as Caps fans just aren’t used to seeing.

Now.  Having said all that, I believe there’s a reason for hope, even in the face of a 7 game slide.  Think about it, over the past couple season, last year especially, how many times during the course of the season, have the Caps had to dig themselves out of a hole like this?  Last year, never.  They sailed through the regular season enroute to the President’s Trophy, and didn’t really have to tighten things up until Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs, and we all know how that turned out.  I’m of the mindset that this run may wind up benefiting the Capitals, because from this, we’re going to see exactly what kind of team this is.  It’s the old, “whatever doesn’t kill you, can only make you stronger” cliche.  This was a spell that would have done the Caps well last season.  These can be defining moments in a team’s season.  A gut check, for lack of a better term.  How the Capitals emerge from this, could determine their season.

Hopefully, they turn it into something positive, something to build on…and not run and hide from it.