I've been silent for the most part over the past week as I dig through a mile of schoolwork and other commitments in the final moments before Thanksgiving break at school. No postgame writings, so I haven't had a chance to discuss the Caps after every night like I normally do. So here it goes: Caps hockey analysis, comin' in hot!
Man, what is wrong with this team? The Capitals started the year on fire, winners of seven consecutive games out of the gates. They had everyone talking for the right reasons: Tomas Vokoun was being a rock, the offense had, for the most part, returned, and DC was also managing to play some sound defense. They were a complete hockey team, or at least it appeared so.
Since then, however, your Washington Capitals have looked disoriented and just downright bad at times, compiling a 3-6-1 record since their 7-0 start. This came to a head Thursday night in Winnipeg when the Capitals suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Jets, who are and will continue to be one of the worst teams in the league.
Mike Green's absence hurts and there is no doubt about that. Green is one of the Caps' best players and their best defenseman; not having him in the lineup is a tough hole to plug. But it's not an excuse. The Capitals want to be considered a team of champions, and champions don't let injuries get to their team. Champions man up and go out and win without that star. Like the Penguins are doing.
Alex Ovechkin - (expletive). You're the captain of this team and you are the highest paid player in the league, as you will continue to be for the next nine years. Play like it. 14 points in 17 games is not where you need to be. Adapt your game, and stop cutting to the middle on the rush. It hasn't worked for the last year, it's not going to magically start working again just because Russian machine says so. And play defense.
The "accountability" thing is not working. Bruce Boudreau has made it clear since day one of this season that accountability is going to be a theme of this season as the Capitals attempt to get rid of their demons in the clutch. And yet, Boudreau has placed Mike Knuble, perhaps DC's best leader and one of their most responsible players, on the fourth line. Why?
Am I missing something? Is Knuble taking ridiculous stick penalties and continually putting his team shorthanded like Alex Semin? Or not playing any defense while still not scoring any goals with a hefty $9.3 million cap hit like Alex Ovechkin? How about continually missing coverages on defense while skating slower than Hal Gill like Roman Hamrlik? No? And yet...Knuble, of all people, is the one who gets stuck on the fourth line. Accountability my foot.
And no, that does not mean that Ovechkin and Semin belong on the fourth line. What is does mean is that Knuble does not belong there. Mr. Boudreau, if you're not going to punish your stars for playing like they're in high school, at least reward your veteran leader who has actually won something in his career. Mercy.
This team is playing like they don't care. The honeymoon is over, and anyone who says that since the Caps are 10-6-1 and have the lead in the Southeast makes this recent stretch a non-issue simply isn't paying attention. Washington is lucky, yes, lucky, to be where they are because of that hot start. A normal start would have them tenth in the Conference.
That's not to say that DC doesn't still have the potential to do incredible things. Because they do. They're still loaded top to bottom and they still have Vokoun. But right now, the Caps are failing to expend any effort to try and get what they want, and are coming off as simply a waste. Because that's what they are right now - a waste of talent.