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This Is Disgusting April 22, 2009

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Well, the Capitals are now officially up against it after their third loss to the Rangers. And for the third time, they have lost by one goal. In their lone win in this series, the Caps hung a 4-0 shutout on the Rangers. In their three losses, they have scored a grand total of four goals COMBINED.

Now they’re coming home for Game 5, for what could turn out to be the last game we get to see at Verizon Center this year. I think they’ll find some way to win Game 5, and at least have the dignity to finish their collapse at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The way the Caps have been playing, I don’t think there’s anyone outside the Capitals organization who thinks these choke artists can win three straight.

Yeah, you read that right. In my defense, however, I’m angry tonight. And being quietly supportive doesn’t seem to be working very well, so perhaps an in-print keel-hauling may reverse our fortunes. If it does, this tirade will have done its job. If it doesn’t, then the vituperation will be richly deserved.

Credit where it’s due: Erskine has found his game, Varlamov has handled a trial by fire with remarkable aplomb, and Semin has been a lone bright spot on offense.

But when your best goaltender has a save percentage of .962 and goals-against of 1.01, but he’s still 1-2–IN THE PLAYOFFS–then it’s not your goaltender who’s to blame. Also, let’s not forget that three of the goals we scored in defeat were scored in one game–which we managed to lose behind some subpar goaltending from Jose Theodore. So, in Varlamov’s two losses, we’ve managed to score one goal. Total.

The blame for this needs to go squarely up front. I’m not going to make any friends by saying this, but here goes: Alex Ovechkin is the reason the Capitals are losing.

I can’t be serious, can I?

Why not? The man clocked up 50-plus goals in the regular season, and it took him four games to get his FIRST GOAL OF THE PLAYOFFS. Yes, he does have four assists, and yes, he does lead the team on defense at +3. But we’re not paying the guy to bring the Selke Trophy to Washington. We want the Stanley Cup. And it’s not going to happen if Alex Ovechkin keeps scoring goals at will in the regular season, only to turn around and go on a scoring drought in the playoffs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Alex Ovechkin as a player, I think he’s great personally, and I’m glad we’ve got him locked up long-term. But when a repeat Rocket Richard winner only has one goal to his credit in four playoff games, he’s simply not getting it done. Alex has been doing wonders on D, yes. He’s assisted on half the goals the Caps have scored in the postseason, yes. But if he doesn’t start scoring goals–a lot of them–for the balance of this series, then he will have to accept a large portion of the blame for the Caps’ fate, for better or worse. If he starts racking up goals on Friday night, and keeps them coming until next Tuesday, and the Caps end up coming back from a 3-1 series hole, then absolutely, all hail Alex the Great.

But if he can’t put the puck in the net, and the Rangers end up pulling off a stunning upset, then we might have to downgrade him to “Alex the Pretty Good.”

Don’t get me wrong–I want to see the Caps win, and I think that if any team can climb back into a series like this, it’s the Caps.

But after a historic regular season, Caps fans expected much, MUCH better in the playoffs than we have thus far seen. I still hold out hope, however faint, that the Caps can win this still. However, I am still having to prepare myself, emotionally, for another postseason heartbreak. And it’s only the first round.

At this point, do the Caps have the heart to win? Alas, I have no answer. And I think that about says it all.




1. pepper - April 28, 2009

Hey CS! I thought to check your blog today to see what sort of spiritual guidance you might be offering to Caps Nation in this powerfully anxious time.

2. CapitalSpirit - April 29, 2009

I wasn’t happy with how the team was doing at the time, and a lot of this was written in frustration. However, the Caps did come back to win the series, so no harm, no foul. Thanks for stopping by.

(I may need to call out Alex Ovechkin more often…)–CS

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