Now’s the time for the Caps to show us what they can do

March 05, 2014 | Drew Forrester

It’s not do or die for the Capitals in Philadelphia tonight — not by a longshot — but this evening’s affair with the Flyers should continue to tell us what’s under the hood for our beloved lifetime losers in Washington DC.

They’re coming off a hideous 3rd period collapse on Sunday at the Verizon Center that saw the Flyers score twice in the game’s final ten minutes and then win it in overtime on a softee surrendered by Caps netminder Braden Holtby.

You just can’t lose games like that in March, particularly when the team you’re playing is the one resting a single point ahead of you in the standings.

And, of course, losing to the Flyers — in your building, no less — is worse than having Duke come in and beat you by 25.  At least those Duke kids go to class and are probably decent human beings. Nothing about the Flyers is “decent”.

The Caps made a little bit of noise on Tuesday as the trade deadline approaches (Wednesday), sending the stiff-of-all-stiffs, Martin Erat to the Phoenix Coyotes for a couple of guys you’ve never heard of…which still makes it a win-win for the Caps.  A year ago, they brought Erat in from Nashville.  Sixty two games later, he departs with two more goals (total) than you and I scored in that time.  Good riddance.

The Tuesday acquisition of Dustin Penner from Anaheim could help the Washington offense, although Penner’s best scoring days are long gone.  He is, however, having a decent campaign in ’13-14 and his style of play will fit in much better than Erat’s, who was closer to being an Olympic figure skater than a contributor in the lunch-pail-required Eastern Conference of the NHL.

The Caps have danced on the edge of chaos (tip of the cap to Jason Cole who authored that line at a Ravens press conference once) several times in recent years but used final month or final week surges to make post-season play.

I don’t see it happening this year.

This just isn’t a very good team.

They don’t have enough offense night-in-and-night-out and their overall team defense is severely lacking.  Goaltending isn’t a weakness, per-se, but do you see any of the three they’ve used this year standing on his head for a series or two and pulling a “Lundqvist” and single-handedly eliminating a team?  Right, me neither.

They’re in a tough spot in Washington, because they’ve essentially mortgaged their franchise on the back of a career All-Star who still hasn’t really won anything that’s mattered in the NHL. They can’t really trade Alexander Ovechkin, because no one will take his contract, for starters, and of the 18,000 who show up for home games in D.C., about 12,000 of them own #8 sweaters.  You just can’t dump the guy who has made the franchise what it is today.

Maybe this non-playoff year — if it happens — will be the catalyst for major changes in D.C.

A look a few hundred miles north to the team assembled in Pittsburgh should give the Caps a solid blueprint for how to do things and assemble a winner.  Then again, they have their own “franchise player” in the likes of a guy named Crosby, but he’s so much better than Ovechkin on a variety of levels the comparison is almost unfair.

I’m a Caps fan from the outset…literally ’74-75…but I’m as down on them right now as I’ve been in a long, long time.

They don’t have what it takes under the hood to rise to the next level.


6 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Well let’s see, Monday you write about golf & Tiger Woods who is becoming more & more irrelevant as each tournament comes around. Tuesday about college players who Lacy was the only name I knew & today about hockey & team in DC, anything local happening in B’more you could write about, looks like your 0-3 so far this week for me !!! (DF: You need to improve your reading and upgrade your knowledge of Baltimore sports. My blog on Monday was about Rory McIlroy actually, with a little bit of Tiger thrown in. You might have heard of those two guys before. If the only player you knew of those 16 I listed was Jim Lacy, that says more about YOU than ME since he starred for Loyola in the 1940’s. If you haven’t heard of Marvin Webster or Kurk Lee or Reggie Holmes or Tywain McKee or Jerrelle Benimon, you don’t follow college basketball in Baltimore. That’s not MY fault. I’ll be bringing in a Baltimore community leader tomorrow morning at 8am for the show — I’m sure I’ll get plenty of feedback from you on that one.)

  2. Mike from Half Moon Bay Says:

    Let’s just hope the Flyers don’t use the same trick that USA Hockey used in its Olympic win over Russia when before the game started someone skated up to Ovechkin and whispered in his ear “this is a very important game that requires a clutch performance from you”

  3. BK Says:

    Well said Steve

  4. BmoreB Says:

    I thought “Caps” was a new nickname for the Ravens front office personnel and this article would be about free agency. Damn !

  5. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    I love it when I can get under your skin, it’s becoming easier & easier every day !!! (DF: You’re not really “under my skin”. You just stay dumb stuff that makes me wonder if you’re honestly not paying attention or if you’re just trolling me. If I thought you were just trolling, I wouldn’t answer. Trolls are the lowest form of internet life.)

  6. David Says:

    Good piece all around Drew and for the most part i would agree. As being a current season ticket holder this is the first time i feel the Caps are on the outside looking in. I dont think it has anything to do with realignment as most thought it would, they just are not that good. Score a goal and then a minute later give it back to the opponent. They rely too much on the PP and Ovechkin to win games and that is not the formula. You and I both know that with out defense and a solid goalie you can not make a run let alone win the Cup. As for looking at the Penguins as a blueprint to how to win the Caps are step for step with them since 2009. Penguins won the Cup in 09, after ousting the Caps in 7 games, and have not sniffed it since. The furthest they have gotten was last year when they got to the Conference Finals and choked to the Bruins. In 2010,11,and 12 the Caps and Penguin have both been eliminated in either the first or second round. Sure they have lots of talent and can dominate the regular season, much like the Caps have done in past years but once the playoffs start they implode and forget how to play. Just like the Caps. Just my opinion on the Pens but i understand that a lot of people idolize that franchise and how they run things. I just personally do not see it as other teams in the East have done what they have or had the same moderate success. The Bruins have been to 2 Finals in the past 3 years and are 1-1.

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