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Reflections on tonight’s win against the Bolts December 27, 2007

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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First, a parable.

 One beautiful Sunday in late May, a pastor of a small-town church decided he’d rather be on the golf course than behind the pulpit.  So he put the word out to cancel that Sunday’s service, threw on his golf togs, and headed for the links.

In Heaven, Archangel Michael took note of this case of hooky and presented it to the Lord.  “Surely, Lord, you won’t let this pastor get away with shirking his Divine duty?”

And the Lord said to Archangel Michael, “I have noted your concern, and I will personally see to it that this pastor is punished.”

The first hole on the course was a long par 4.  The pastor took a tremendous tee shot, and hit the green in one.  He then buried the putt for an eagle.  The second hole was a long, switchback par 5 with an unforgiving green.  It was such a difficult hole that par was considered a good score by the regulars.  The pastor got the perfect bounce on his tee shot, and ended up with his ball in perfect position in the middle of the fairway.  On his second shot, a friendly gust of wind caught the ball, and carried it to the green, where it one-hopped before dropping in the cup for a double eagle.  The third hole was a par 3 with a massive water hazard in front of the green, and four bunkers behind it.  The pastor took his shot, and the ball went from the tee straight into the hole for the cleanest ace you ever saw.

Archangel Michael had been watching all of this, and he couldn’t take any more.  “Lord, far be it from me to question Your wisdom.  Yet, You said You would punish this pastor for his misdeeds.  How do You call this punishment?”

And the Lord gave Archangel Michael a conspiratorial wink and asked, “But who’s he going to tell?”

Moral:  Sometimes, you don’t want to be rewarded when you do the wrong thing.

Tonight’s game was a game that, from where I was sitting, we had no business winning.  Yes, we had more shots; yes, we only took one penalty (and even that was a smart one); yes, we showed a never-say-die attitude when we erased two separate Tampa Bay leads; yes, Stecks played like he’s getting allergic to the minor leagues; yes, a win is a win is a win; yes, we’re now only a single point behind the Lightning and might be able to get out of the cellar tomorrow night; and yes, we’ll definitely take two points in the standings.

HOWEVER.

That long-bomb pass to Lecavalier for the easy score was absolutely inexcusable; Kozlov and Flash made too many mistakes; the power play was ineffective; the Caps’ forecheck left a lot to be desired; the Caps gave out fewer hits; they had twice as many giveaways as takeaways; they couldn’t even make it into double-digits in the blocks department; and almost a third of their shots missed the mark completely.

Fortunately, it was Tampa Bay they were playing, and not anybody good.  So the Caps snuck away with a win, although I thought that looked more like an escape than a convincing victory.  (Harry Houdini, call your office.)  The Caps won on the scoreboard, but the Lightning won almost everywhere else on the stat sheet.

Number of the night: 173.  That’s the number of seconds during which the Caps actually had the lead tonight.  For the rest of the night, they were either tied or trailing.

If the Caps think for a minute, and I mean a nanosecond, that they can play like that tomorrow night in Pittsburgh and have a chance at victory, they might find themselves in for a rude awakening.  They have to do a better job tomorrow night.  The Penguins aren’t exactly leading the conference, granted, but they’re not exactly slouches, either.  Throw in the history of these two clubs, and the whole Ovechkin-Crosby subplot, and you have got the makings of a game that means a lot more than two points in the standings.  A win here might get the Caps out of last place (provided the Canadiens extend the Bolts’ woes tomorrow night).  A loss here might end up costing us more than two points in the standings.

Here’s hoping the Caps prove me wrong tomorrow night.  I hope that at this time tomorrow, I’ll be serving myself four and twenty blackbirds baked in some humble pie.

Now for tonight’s awards:

“Working overtime”: David Steckel, with three points and a very deserved First Star honor.

“Full-time”: Matt Bradley, who led all players with a +3 for the night.

“Part-time”: Alexander Ovechkin, with no goals, one assist, and the Caps’ only penalty.

“Off night”: Michael Nylander, with 20:31 of ice time, one shot, one giveaway, no points, and most lost faceoffs among the Caps.

“Called in sick”: Viktor Kozlov, with 17:30 of ice time, during which he managed only one shot on net, had three missed shots, and was a defensive -1.

One final gripe and then I’m done: Steve Eminger deserves better than this.  He may not be the best defenseman on the team, but that is absolutely no excuse for leaving him a healthy scratch for weeks on end.  He’s played two games all year.  TWO.  If he stays in the pressbox any longer, some paper in town will ask him for a writing sample.  Coach Boudreau said he was going to rotate the roster a bit to keep everyone invested in the team.  Despite that assurance, Eminger hasn’t played for over a month, and he’s got 25:25 of ice time for the SEASON.  He played 68 games for us last year, 66 the year before, and those weren’t exactly fun years for this team.  Now it looks like our fortunes may be turning slightly, yet Eminger’s a healthy DND for a month. 

“You have to earn your ice time at this level.”  Fair enough.  “We need a serviceable defenseman in case of injury. ” Fine.  “We’ve been winning, so why upset the apple cart?”  Can’t argue with that logic.  “You weren’t exactly his biggest booster when he WAS playing.”  You got me there.

I still think it stinks to high heaven.

CAPITAL SPIRIT

IMPROVEMENT IS NOT OPTIONAL

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Comments»

1. Jonny Wonderland - December 27, 2007

you’re right about eminger – what the f*** is going on?

I’m beginning to think he and Suds may have tag-teamed McPhee’s wife

2. CapitalSpirit - December 27, 2007

I don’t think it’s anything like THAT. Eminger was like a -16 or something last year, and with Poti’s arrival over the summer–never mind Jurcina at the deadline–he was fighting for his job when camp opened. He just fell one spot off the depth chart, and that’s where he’s been stuck for most of the year.

Sutherby ran into a similar problem up front. The difference here was that we were a lot deeper up front, and there wasn’t much we could do to make room. We’re a little thinner on the blue line, so it makes kind-of sense to have an extra D-man around who spends most game nights in civvies.

Except that when Coach Boudreau came on board last month, he said that he was going to be rotating players in and out of the lineup.

Maybe there’s more to Eminger’s absence than we’ve been publicly told: the Caps are a very tight-lipped organization, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that were indeed the case. Or maybe it really is as simple as a coaching decision. I don’t have the answer.

I just wish he weren’t being strung along like this. You don’t spend hours and hours at the rink as a kid dreaming of growing up and being an eternal healthy scratch.

One last thing: I’ll let that rather saucy comment stand without edit, but please try to have your next comment closer to a PG. Thanks much.

3. Jonny Wonderland - December 27, 2007

I grew up with Steve and I know he’s a stand-up guy. He definitely doesn’t deserve any of this.

I can only hope, for his sake, that he can somehow turn this into a positive learning experience and become a better NHLer. Although the longer this plays out the more negatively it will affect his career.


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