Our very own Ed Frankovic chronicled the Caps 5-0 drubbing last night with a perfect one-word description: quitters.
I know, that’s the worst thing you can say about a player or a team, but it sure fit the Washington Capitals last night when the Dallas Stars strolled into the Verizon Center and pasted Alex Ovechkin and Company with the playoffs essentially on the line for the home team.
With every point mattering now, the Caps turned in one of the all-time turd performances of the Ovechkin era. He was essentially a no-show on Saturday vs. Boston, Sunday at Nashville and then again last night at home when the Caps scored zero goals with the playoffs waving in the foreground.
It was awful. It was truly “old school” Caps hockey. It made me harken back to the mid 1970’s when my Dad and I would settle in behind the goal at the old Cap Centre to watch the Caps get blasted by just about everyone on a nightly basis.
I felt like we were going to see Robert Picard or Hartland Monahan take a shift in the 3rd period.
Some of this heartless play can be traced back to the first period of a 4-3 shootout loss to Nashville on Sunday night when Predators in-house goon, Rich Clune, beat up on rookie Patrick Wey when all he did – gasp! – was check Clune into the boards on a completely fair and legit hockey play. That Clune didn’t get the crap knocked out of him later on in the game by a gang of Caps was proof-positive of the yellow streak running down their collective backs. I get it, you’re playing for points, not penalty minutes, but Clune’s punishing pounding of Wey deserved a massive dose of retaliation at some point before the night ended.
When Clune didn’t get the stuffing knocked out of him in the second or third period of that Nashville game, I knew then, for sure, this was a gutless bunch.
I wrote a piece here at WNST.net about the Caps a month ago and said then — and stand behind it now — that this organization needs a summer of ’14 overhaul that should include a deep, in-depth look at Ovechkin and whether or not the franchise can win on the ice with him.
People thought I was nuts. “He’s a 50-goal scorer, Drew! You can’t get rid of those guys.”
Rob Carlin of Comcast Sports Net laughed at me on the air when I asked him about Ovechkin’s future in D.C.
No one was laughing last night.
Except the Dallas Stars.
Tiger Woods out of the Masters isn’t a great surprise to me.
You can’t play golf when you’re hurt, even if he did win the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg. Then again, he only had to beat Rocco Mediate.
Woods, though, needs more than a surgically repaired back to return to his form of old.
Let’s face it, he wasn’t winning the Masters this year anyway, bad back or not. He hasn’t won there since 2005 when he beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff. He can’t win at Augusta anymore because under the heat of the Sunday back-nine pressure, he can’t putt the greens.
That said, it’s not like Tiger has become Briny Baird or anything. He did win five events last year.
But the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
Ever since Woods beat Mediate at Torrey Pines in that U.S. Open playoff, he has as many major wins as…well…Briny Baird.
There are only three things that can get Woods back on track in his chase to catch Jack Nicklaus and his record of eighteen major titles. One would be complete physical health. He’s had a myriad of injuries over the years, none overwhelmingly serious, but bothersome enough to derail him from time-to-time. There’s one certainty about playing professional golf that Woods is now finding out in high-def: You can’t possibly play high-level golf if you’re injured. Number two would be Tiger Woods of 2014 putting like Tiger Woods of 2004. For whatever reason, Woods hasn’t putted well since his return to the game in 2009 following his ACL surgery and personal bump-in-the-run with then-wife Elin. Some of Tiger’s tee-to-green stats have improved under the tutelage of instructor Sean Foley, but putting certainly hasn’t. You can’t win major championships if your putting is – no pun intended here – sub-par. Third, and there’s no chance of this happening but it deserves mentioning – a reconciliation with former teacher Butch Harmon could be the tonic Woods needs to return to his past glory. For starters, Phil Mickelson wouldn’t allow Harmon to “co-teach” both the lefthander and Woods. And, as we know about Woods, the chances of him begging Butch to come back are slim and none.
With all due respect to some bad personal decisions Tiger made when he was chasing waitresses around Orlando in the late 2000’s, the worst decision he ever made was firing Butch Harmon. Period.
More than anything, though, what has plagued Woods over the last six years is simple. He hasn’t been healthy and he can’t make putts under the gun.
And he won’t get the chance to dispel either of those theories next week at Augusta, nor would it appear he’ll be ready to chase his 4th U.S. Open title at Pinehurst in June.
It all adds up to a semi-boring Masters, as we all know the truth about the PGA Tour. With Tiger in the field, it’s must-watch TV. When Tiger isn’t playing, you’re mowing your lawn.