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Archive for April, 2010

“Unacceptable”.  “Depressing”.  “Terrible”. 

These were the words spoken by my old man, Walton and myself as the three of us spoke, at different times, about the Caps’ loss to Montreal on Wednesday night. 

It’s hard to be rational about things on a day like this when as my old man put it, “all of Washington is in mourning”. 

Maybe my problem is that I wrap too much of my identity in my sports teams.  I place too much of my superficial happiness into something over which I have no control.  Even though I’m 34 years old, I still dream about championships and watching Ovie and the boys raising the Stanley Cup and going to Pennsylvania Ave. to see the parade just like I had done when the Redskins had won Super Bowls in my youth.

And maybe that’s where it all comes from, a desire to stay young.  Maybe that’s why it makes me grimace at the thought that Washington is the only #1 seed to allow a #8 seed to come back from a 3-1 deficit.  Maybe that’s why it pains me inside that Pittsburgh and Philly are still playing and we aren’t.  It pains me because I have allowed the Caps to somehow represent me and now a little piece of me is done, for the time being.

See when my teams lose, aside from when the ‘Skins lost to the Chiefs last year at Fedex, I don’t get mad, I more often get sad. 

I’m the kind of guy that saves ticket stubs, but only when we win.  I keep newspaper clippings to all the big games and I had kept the front page of all the sports sections of each playoff victory for each year ay of my teams are in the playoffs, hoping each year was going to be the year that I would have a collection of  pages, in some cases 16, in some cases 4, that outlined our path to a championship. 

One of the 1st things I did on Wednesday night was throw away my newspapers.

It made me feel good to read on the Sports Bog about Brooks Laich helping a Caps fan fix a flat tire after the Game 7 loss.  I also nodded in painful resignation at Steinberg’s foresight regarding how people will trash Ovie and praise Crosby since Crosby continues to have success and Ovie flamed out this year.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much when I have never met either dude and never will.  I’m not friends with Ovie, but sadly enough, or maybe proudly enough, when he puts a sweater that says “Washington” on it, that represents me.  But despite all of that, at this point, there is no comparison between the two.  And maybe for next year, that will help Ovie have a clear mind. (Boy I hope Ovie doesn’t win the MVP because that will just make things worse.)

The truth is while I don’t blame Ovie for the loss in this series, he is our captain and shares responsibility in all of our accomplishments and all of our failures.  Ovie scored 5 goals and had 6 assists, not bad for 7 games.  But people will say that in our losses, he has not played well.  His effort was there on Wednesday night, but did he carry the puck too much and try to do too much because of his desire to win?  Maybe.  Should he have trusted his line-mates more, especially Backstrom to get the puck into the zone?  Maybe.

But fault also lies other places.  I have said on many occasions that whenever I question Boudreau, he proves how much more he knows than me.  But some of what happened in this series really leaves me scratching my head. 

Why did we come out so flat in game 5?  If Boudreau was so worried, as I was, about what would happen if we lost Game 5 at home, then why didn’t the players come out with more urgency?   Or was Boudreau so anxious, like I was, that his players were tight for big parts of this series?  Something metaphysical played a role in this collapse because normal explanations only go so far.

Why did Boudreau never return to Theo, at least in game 7?  Theo will not be back in D.C. next year, but somehow, with all he gave us this year, it seemed like emotionally, for the team, giving Theo another shot would have made sense. 

I know Boudreau tried a lot of different looks on the PP, but one thing I noticed all series, was how much movement Montreal got on its PP on the point and behind the net.  The guys on the wing never move that much for any team.  But Montreal skated more on the PP.  Why didn’t we?  I don’t know, I just don’t know.

Mike Green has some good moments in this series, but had a lot of bad moments.  His 1st penalty in Game 7 was truly unacceptable.  At a certain point, his actions are a reflection of Ovie, the captain, and Boudreau our coach.  Every player makes a few bone-headed plays over the course of the season, but not in the playoffs, in Game 7?  Mike Green did not play well at the point either.  Pucks bounced over his stick at the blue line more times than I can remember and some of those times either resulted in goals, scoring opportunities or penalties.

I’m not among those who say Green should be traded, but his role on this team may need to be shifted.  Maybe he can’t be “the guy” on defense.  If there is one positive about this series, it seems like Carlson has become a guy we will be able to count on for more great thigns as the team moves forward.  He and Alzner will be full-time players next year.

Joe Corvo was a bust here and while I think picking up Belanger was a good move, and getting Chimera was a great move, trading Pothier, a 2nd round pick and Oskala for Corvo was a total disaster.  You can’t win them all on trades, but Corvo was responsible for 2 huge Montreal goals in this series:  the OT goal in Game 1 and the 2nd goal in Game 5.  He was not a physical presence and while he scored in Game 1, he hurt us much more than he helped us.

I don’t know who are the free-agents from other teams, so perhaps take all this with a grain of salt.  It’s obvious that we will break the bank to keep Backstrom.  I think we will make sure to keep Schultz and Fehr,  I think we will try to keep Fleischmann for a fair price, but won’t overpay for him.  I think it’s not in the team’s philosophy to trade Semin over the summer, but with only a one-year contract, they may look to trade him next year at the trade deadline and get more for him than they could when everyone is calm and rational over the suimmer. 

Because from what I’ve seen, while we know that Alzner and Carslon and Neuvirth will be here next year, I don’t think we have any forwards in Hershey ready to take over a full-time roll on the team.  So while I hope GMGM picks up another center,  because at the end of the day B. Morrison was not an impact player on this team, I don’t know if we can get rid of a 20 goal-scorer like Fleischmann without bringing in someone from outside the organization.

Other than all that, I’m sure everyone, like me, feels slightly better today slightly more normal as the lingering pain from the punch in the gut we all felt on Wednesday night begins to fade slightly.   Hockey is a long season and for fans like me, and I’m sure there are many, many of you out there, who like to watch every Caps game, and missed less than a handful from October to now, it is an undescribably empty feeling when we see our season slip away from us at the hands of an inferior team in a matter of  5 days. 

The dog days of summer are on front of us and the Nats have played an inspiring 1st month of baseball, but I would be lying to you if I told you that I ever thought that I would be talking almost only baseball on this blog from April until Redskins season starts up in July.

This felt like it was going to be the Caps year – our year.  And we had one of the greatest regular seasons in the history of the NHL.  But the bitter, horrible tasting reality is that it all ended with one of the worst post-seasons in NHL history.

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On days like yesterday, days when my stomach is eating itself inside out with anxiety,  anticipation and the fear of facing a bitterly dissapointing end to yet another season of one of my beloved teams, I read all different kinds of message boards trying to find a glimmer of hope to allay my trepidation, a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that this series with the Canadiens has suddenly become.

No such luck.  While a few fans still had hope and talked about how quickly momentum can change in a hockey series, many were calling the Caps “choking dogs”, demanding that Boudreau be fired and saying that Mike Green and Semin be traded in the offseason.  During my lunch break, I exchanged emails with my buddy Ryan, a huge D.C. sports fan and usually an optimistic sort from section 449, who said that the next 32 hours would be extremely difficult.   He said that he was going to watch the game in a dark room tonight by himself.

So is there any hope?  Well let’s 1st consider this.  As everyone knows, the Caps have been in 4 consecutive games 7’s.  The difference here is that in each of those occasions, the Caps had won game 6 and had themsleves avoided elimination.  At this same time in each of the last three series, I also scoured all the message boards and fans were extremely confident about the Caps’ changes on home ice in Game 7.  Both against Philly and the Pens, the Caps had picked up huge, hard-fought, road victories to keep their series alive.   With all of this momentum going our way, most folks, including me, felt like we would most likely win the final game in our own building.  In fact, I remember feeling on both occassions after winning game 6, this sense of relief as if we had already won the series.  Looking back, it’s as if with such a huge victory in hand, I must have felt that winning Game 7 on home ice was academic.

No such luck.

Last year against the Rangers, we clobbered the Rangers in Madison Square Garden and I think that most people in the hockey world thoguht we  would blow right through the Rangers in Game 7 on home ice.  That was a very close game and one of course we won with less than 5 minutes remaining when Fedorov scored on a slap shot that will remain etched in all of our memories for a long time to come.

Now today, I would say that while most people think we should win tonight, many people doubt we will.  Like last year against the Rangers, all the pressure is on us to win and like last year against the Rangers we are playing a goaltender who is having a great series.  However, having come off of two losses, few people seem to think that we have the mental toughness to pull this one out.

All day yesterday, I walked through so many scenarios until I found my spritis raised by the sight of Ovie shaking hands with Sid the Kid last year after our game 7 loss and seeing how crushed Ovie was and then I remembered how he admitted, when receiving the MVP award, that he really wanted what Sid the Kid had – the Stanley Cup.

Ovie is our captain, the man who led us to our great regular season, but a man who has seen his professional image scarred this year with a couple of suspensions and the dissapointment of Russia’s failure to medal at the Olympics.  Deep in my heart, I have to believe that Ovie is not going to let us lose tonight. 

Deep in my heart, while I fear the worst outcome, I have to believe that despite two losses at home, our fans will prove that we can lift our team the way Montreal lifted the Canadiens on Monday and that with 18,000 people going nuts in downtown D.C., the Caps can harness that energy and play the way we have to in order to put this potential calamity behind us. 

Deep in my heart, I have to believe that when Ovie carries the puck into the zone tonight, he is going to drive super hard to the net.  And then when that happens, there is going to be a domino effect.  Knuble, Laich and Fehr – tonight is your night to stand in front of the net and make Halak’s life a living hell.  Green, tonight is your night to not let the puck bounce over your stick.  Semin, tonight is the night when your shot finds that sweet spot, high on Halak’s blocker side, that pierces the net.  Chimera, Bradley, Steckel and Gordon – tonight is your night to skate with fury, unending energy and wear down your inferior opponents. 

Tonight is the night we crash the net, make hard passes out of our zone, shoot when we have been passing and passing when we have been shooting on the PP, keep our sticks moving on the PK and fight for EVERY loose puck.  Because, with Ovie leading the way, if we play like this, we all have to believe that there is no way for us to lose.

So after 24 hours of soaking up the worst scenario possible, with 12 hours left before the puck drops, I am ready for the best.

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Do you believe?

I have very little analysis of tonight’s game that would be worth much of anything to anyone.  As I threw my hand down and slapped the floor on which I sat throughout the night cursing at one blown opportunity after another, I got the sinking feeling that something really terrible may be happening right before our eyes.  Something really bad.

I mean Georgetown losing to Villanova bad, I mean the Redskins losing to the Raiders bad, I mean the Bullets losing to the Warriors bad, I mean really bad. 

I mean bad like when the Caps lost to the Penguins in 1992 and 1995 after being up 3-1 in the series.  I mean bad like when Georgetown lost to Davidson, Providence and Ohio in the NCAA tounrament.  I mean bad like when the Wizards lost to the Cavaliers 4-2 when LeTravel took 3 steps in Game 6 to win only after Gilbert choked away game 5.

The difference between all those events, aside from Georgetown losing to Villanova and the ‘Skins losing to the Raiders is that at least our D.C. team made it to the final game.  This year we are getting beat by a team that we are much better than.  And unlike all the previous Caps, Wizards and Hoyas losses, this Caps team was the best team in the league for the entire year, the absolute best! 

Do you know when a D.C. team last had the best regular season record in any sport?  Almost 20 years ago when the Redskins went 14-2 and won the Super Bowl.  That’s how long it’s been since we have had a team like the Caps.  That’s how long we have been enduring one heartbreak after another as a sports community.  I know I sound pitiful because that’s how I feel.

And now, we stand one loss away from the unthinkable, the most dissapointing loss any D.C. fan could imagine.  How much more can we take?  4 heartbreaks in a row by the Wizards in the playoffs followed by two truly horrible years.  A Redskins team that has gone from inspirational in 2005 and 2007 to pitiful, highlighted by a loss to the Lions in 2009. A Nationals team that has been the worst in baseball for two years, a college basketball team in the Hoyas that has dreadfully underachieved in 3 consecutive seasons. 

And now this.

The Caps made quite a few changes tonight, some that I predicted and some that I didn’t see coming, like Backstrom moving to the 2nd line and Belanger up to the 1st line.  None of it worked. 

While at times the Caps dominated the game tonight, we again shot ourselves in the foot on the PP on way too many occassions.  The 5 on 3 in the 1st period was atrocious.  I wonder whether we should try to have B. Morrison at the point and have Ovie on the wing like he was last year.  I know we had the best PP during the regular season, but something obviously is not working. 

While Halak made some unbelievable stops, the Caps did not consistently get enough guys to the net and were stagnant with the puck on the man advantage.  We possessed the puck well, but even when we had open nets, we began to squeeze the sticks and fired wide way too often.  Or we shot low when we should have shot high.  Or we shot high when we should have shot low.  We even hit a couple of posts.

Nothing we did went our way tonight.  I humbly say that Varly could have stopped the 2nd and 3rd goals, maybe even should have stopped those goals, but it must be hard to make a play as a goal keeper when you see as few shots as he saw tonight over large chunks of the game.  Our defense was not bad, perhaps not great, but certainly good enough to win. 

But now none of that matters.  I have presented all of these awful comparisons of previous D.C. sports calamities because I know if we lose on Wednesday night, I will not have the mental force of will to write for days.

In my befuddled state, I think Boudreau should not make whole-sale changes.  I even think he should maybe move Backstrom back to the 1st line and move Belanger back to the 2nd line and that’s it.  Put Backstrom with Ovie, the man most able to single-handedly will us to victory in Game 7.   

While Semin still has not scored, I think people have to stop picking him.  He was out best player the last 2 games and nothing, I mean nothing he did went right for him.  Some of his shots were amazing and some just average, but for some reason, none of them went in.  Some of it had to do with the Caps not moving the puck well enough and maybe not having 2 men in front of the net when they only had one, but some of the shots didn’t go in because well…… they just didn’t go in.

I wonder whether Boudreau will put Theo in on Game 7.  Varly has not played badly, but now he has lost 2 in a row.  Theo would either play the game of his life or the moment would be too big for him.  Right now, I can’t tell which one I think would happen.  But I wonder whether Gabby is thinking about it.

Other than that, we all have to just believe.  We have to just believe that this team which we have seen play so well on so many big occassions this year can play a great game in the biggest game of the year.  We should not make a ton of changes, just play the way that got us here and just believe.  We gotta believe that this is not where it is supposed to end for us….we just gotta believe. 

I do wonder

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Even though the Redskins completed their draft over the weekend, I will start with the Caps since they have been on my mind 1st and foremost.   I have to admit that I am very uneasy about this series.  Many Caps fans are very relaxed and their confidence is justified to an extent.  And maybe, I am just so used to being crushed that I feel that I am going to be crushed again, but this series continues to make me very, VERY nervous.

1st, I don’t know why the NHL decided to place 3 days between games 5 & 6.  There is 2 ways at looking at it.  If we win, it gives us less time to rest for the 2nd round against Philly.  The flip side is that the extra day in between gave us a chance to work on the PP, which maybe could help us win.  I don’t know what having an extra day psychologically will do for the Caps, but I don’t think it helps. 

The NHL of course gave the Pens the psychological edge they needed in allowing them to bounce back from their Game 5 home loss only two days later rather than letting them have to stew over it like the Caps for a full 3 days.   By the way, I have watched pieces of all the 6th games over the weekend and in all 3, the team that was behind 3-2 in games came out firing.  In the 2 games where the lower seeded team was at home, the higher seed came back and ended the series.  Detroit was never able to come back against Phoenix.  So not one home team has won a game 6.  Can this trend really continue?  Or is this is a bad omen for us?  Or will Boston be the home team to win a game 6?  I don’t know, but I won’t be sleeping easy tonight.

One last thing, it is total nonsense that Hossa is not being suspended for his hit in Game 5 yesterday.  It was basically the exact same play Ovie made against Campbell.  He didn’t even get a game misconduct.  I don’t get it.  Either the anti-Ovie conspiracy is true or the NHL is run by a bunch of idiots.  Unbelievable.

I think we may see B. Morrison sit tomorrow night.  Fleischmann may return to center perhaps the 3rd line with Chimera and Fehr and Steckel will play with Bradley and Gordon on the 4th line.  Just a hunch.  Of course, we hope Shaone Morrison returns to the defense as well.

Double vision:   Overall, I think the Redskins had a good draft.  I have written that I think Trent Williams is a good pick.  In some ways, you can say, McNabb was our 2nd round pick.  ( Although, will we also be saying next year that McNabb was our 3rd round pick?)  Jeremy Jarmon is a player with a lot of potential and I love him because he has his own jingle already which I like to sing in section 449.  I thought the Redskins needed a LB which we got with our 4th pick. 

Our 5th pick was curious because I wonder whether Shanny is looking for more production than what Mike Sellers gave us last year.  We also need a blocking TE.  Has Todd Wade been cut?   You have to consider too that this dude Carriker whom we got from the Rams was sort of a bonus 5th round pick as well.  We essentially got two players with one pick.  

Getting two more OL players makes sense.  These guys will compete with Reinhart, Edwin Williams and Montgomery.  It’s nice that these last three guys all got to play last year, albeit with mixed results.  But at least if they see the field this year, we won’t all be turning to each other with anxious looks in section 449 and start rubbing our evil eyes in fear of what may happen to old man McNabb.  

Picking a receiver who apparently can return kicks addresses another area of need.

I’m not going to give a grade to the Redskins since I have never heard of any of these players.  I hadn’t even heard of Trent Williams until he started being discussed in conjunction with the ‘Skins.  But overall, I guess the draft made sense to me and if you include Jarmon, which everyone should, it was a balanced draft that continues to build the team in the right places.  The only other place I thought we would draft was in the secondary, but who knows who will show up to camp among the undrafted free-agents?

It was cool to see D.C. native, Daryll Clark, who wore #17 at Penn State in honor of Doug Williams, was signed by the ‘Skins.  He joins Edwin Williams and Byron Westbrook ( is he still on the team by the way?) as current ‘Skins who grew up rooting for the ‘Skins – BBRs who could rise to a different level of the pantheon of BBR greats.

I will say that I was right about one thing that I have been saying all along:  the Redskins  did not trade #92.  It has become clear to me now that the Redskins have signed all these nose tackles not to replace Haynesworth, but to allow him to play DE much more than any of us may have anticipated.  If even one of these dudes who we have brought in works out, and you throw in Golston at nose tackle, which people have said he could play- then fat Albert has more time to play at DE. 

Brilliant Shanallahan, brilliant!!!  

And now, as I’ve said before, let’s see how good a coach Shanny really is.  Good coaches have to be able to handle difficult personalities.  Gibbs did it.  I hate to admit it, but Parcells did it.  I also hate to admit it, but Jimmy Johnson did it.  Now let’s see Shanny do it.

Triple vision:  The Nats won another series this weekend, this time capping off the weekend with a pitching gem by Scott Olsen.  The

Justin Maxwell dives to snag a flyball in the Nats 1-0, series clinching victory over the Dodgers on Sunday.

 Nats went a respectable 6-4 on the homestand with series victories over Milwaukee and LA and a split against Colorado. 

Not bad for the Nats.  This is all with Zimmerman having missed 6 games and our best off-season pitching acquisition, Jason Marquis, stinking up the joint something fierce.  The Nats are finding ways to win games they found ways to lose the last two years.  One of the things that is different is that we are not blowing 9th inning leads.  Matt Capps currently leads MLB with 8 saves.  The Nats are leading the major leagues in a good thing!!!!

You could say that we should win at least 6 games in a 10 game homestand, but for the Nats, 10-9 after the 1st 19 games is unchartered territory.  We have alternated wins and losses for the last 8 games, having not dipped below .500, but never getting to 2 games over either.  With a 6 game roadtrip against Chicago and Florida, I think we all would be happy with a 3-3 record when the Nats return home. 

I think if we get Zimmerman back and continue to get good pitching 2 out of 3 starts, things may go pretty well this week.

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1st my old man, now me

It has taken me a while to write this entry because I feel particularly crushed after the Capitals’ 2-1 loss last night.  There are so many things which are spinning through my head, so let me just try to recapture the whole evening and with that try to forget about it for as long as possible.  Before I go on though, left me forgive my father for allowing him to blame himself for the Caps Game 1 loss.  It was clearly my presence as demonstrated by the fact that the Caps have now lost 3 consecutive playoff games I have attended.

For anyone who was not in Chinatown last night, saying the streets were alive would not do justice to the excitement and anticipation that you could feel surrounding the Verizon Center.  In addition to the indigenous and settling rhythms of the go-go musicians, there was a Capitals marching band playing in front of one of the main entrances for an hour leading up top the game.  Of course, it was a sea of red everywhere, but scattered throughout the crowd were television reporters, circus acts and a huge variety of individual expression in support of our beloved Caps.

Once the game began, it was immediately obvious that the Caps were asleep.  Everyone who watched the game could see the terrible defensive blunders which resulted in the 1st two goals, but the 2nd goal, where Corvo and Sloan both went after the puck in the corner leaving the front of the net wide open, was totally inexcusable.  Ever since Corvo came here, I have expressed the idea that he has not seemed quite comfortable with the Caps and frankly, he has been our worst defenseman throughout the 5 games we have played with Montreal.  Playing with the usually steady Shaone Morrison has covered up some of his positional weakness, but last night’s gaffe on the 2nd goal was worthy of being the game losing play.

The Caos woke up after that and played better, but some folks just had terrible nights.  Poor Mike Green could not control a bouncing puck to save his life last night and it cost us time and time again.  From where we were sitting, it appeared that Fleischmann missed an absolutely wide open net during a 3rd period PP which would have tied the game.  I thought Brooks Laich played well on the PK, but other than that, he has been a ghost of himself in this series and really was absent for large stretches of last night’s game.

Boudreau seemed to be getting frustrated and a bit desperate as he kept changing up the lines in an attempt to not only compensate for Belanger’s inital absence after suffering a rather ghastly injury, but Fleischmann’s ineffective play.

Now that we mention Belanger, I thought the referees did a far below average job.  Montreal at one point, I believe in the 2nd period,  had 6 men on the ice for what was definitely over 15 seconds and could have been more than 20 seconds.  No call was made and people were going nuts in our section.  In addition, they totally screwed up not calling the high sticking call when Belanger had EIGHT teeth knocked out.  If they let that one go, then how could the refs in return call a high stick against Backstrom when the Canadian player held Backstrom and dragged his shoulder down which forced Backstrom to lift his stick up and catch the Canadian in the face.  Most of the time, I have a hard time complaining about the refs in a hockey game, but last night was pretty egregious.

All that being said, we still should have been able to tie up the game since Montreal did almost nothing for 2.5 period offensively.  After the 1st 5 minutes of the game, even before Montreal scored their 2nd goal, I turned to Ryan and said “We are going to lose this game because not only were we not playing well, but Montreal is getting lucky”.  Call it luck or miraculous goal-tending but in addition to the Flesichmann miss, Halak made some unreal saves.  I thought Semin played well last night, but was robbed on two occasions on the PP by Halak.  For none of our shots to go in was absolutely unreal.

Ovie played with determination last night, but didn’t drive the puck to the net as often as I would have liked to seem him do it.  He and some other Caps often chose to skate the puck behind the net after entering the Montreal defensive zone and looked for a centering pass.  But it seemed to me, that when a goalie is playing as well as Halak was and a defense was as crisp as Montreal was playing last night, I thinkg creating havoc by driving the net is the way to go – as we did to score our only goal of the game.

I don’t see Boudreau taking Varly out of net and while I expect S. Morrison to be back, I don’t know who Boudreau will take out of the lineup.  B Morrison and Fleischmann have had bad series for sure, but aside from having Steckel center the 3rd line, I don’t see any other possible changes.  Walker is too slow to keep up with the speedy Canadiens.  Somebody tell me because I don’t know.  Our guys need to show up and play hard.  I don’t know whether lineup changes will make that happen. 

That being said, I’m glad Boudreau was hard on the players last night and even though he eased up on them today, I feel confident he knows how to push their buttons. 

The crowd last night was excellent.  I’m sure Montreal is really loud and probably louder than we were in Game 1 and Game 5, (I can’t speak for Game 2 since I was not there), but Caps fans have a lot of heart.  (By the way, I love how Brooks Laich said that Montreal fans were up there with Caps and Blackhawks fans as among the best in the league).  We stuck with the team last night even when things were not going well, but man was that loss hard to take.  When we walked out of the arena, we saw that the cops had closed all the streets around the Verizon Center, as if creating a small path for us to celebrate our victory. The moon was out and the night was beautiful, but everyone, instead of chanting in unison, walked with their heads down in disbelief.

What has happened to our home-ice advantage?  Since 2007, the 1st year this core group of players made the playoffs, we are 7-8 in the playoffs at home and 6-5 on the road.  Maybe home ice doesn’t mean that much, but what are the chances that we can beat the Canadiens 3 straight times in their building?  (Sadly enough, Pittsburgh did it to Ottawa tonight). There’s no nice way to put it: the Caps blew a huge opportunity last night and now God knows what will happen.

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So all of the pre-draft chatter led to a whole bunch of nothing.  No Bradford, no safety from Tennessee, no trading down, no trade for Haynesworth.  Just a good solid offensive tackle named Trent Williams.

Trent, welcome to a group of individuals, lucky enough to have been pre-ordained from birth to be destined to be called BBR.   Yes Trent, you did not know it when you signed your intent letter to Oklahoma or during all those epic Big 12 clashes that one day you would be suiting up for the burgundy and gold and taking your place in the pantheon of BBRs throughout time that range from Sammy Baugh, Al Walton, Marko Mitchell, Brian Orakpo, Art Monk, Russ Grimm, Darrell Green, Chris Samuels, Chris Horton and many others.  But here you are and we welcome you with open arms.

We not only welcome you, but welcome Shanallahan’s decision to do the wise thing and draft you.  We welcome a new dawn in the Redskins front office where logic and rational thinking rules over fancy and whim.  People thought the ‘Skins were going to do something crazy because Daniel Snyder is the owner, but they just need be reminded that now Shanny is the one calling the shots.

Now the only thing to worry about here comes from Walton, who is good about finding things to worry about.  He mentioned that while Williams seems like a great choice, he was not, unlike Chris Samuels, Orlando Pace and most recently Joe Thoams, THE choice at OT.  Okung is also very good.  So while there is not much doubt the we got a very good OT last night, there is some uncertainty about whether the ‘Skins picked the best OT. 

I have no opinion since before last night, I had never even seen one snap of Williams’ college career.  And I still have not seen, nor will I ever  – until the ‘Skins play Seattle next – see one snap of Okung’s career. 

So, we sit here with nothing to talk about today except……wait, of course, yes the Caps.  I will be attending the Caps game tonight and will take my rank and file among the sea of red clad supporters ready to cheer our boys on to what will hopefully be a series clinching victory.  (Don’t worry readers, my old man is not going.  Instead, my buddy Ryan from section 449 will be joining me).

Last night’s eastern conference games provided a stark contrast to how to put a team away: Pittsburgh gave Ottawa life early and ended up losing in an epic 3 OT match while Philly sucked the life out of NJ early on and won the game easily.  If we can put a couple in the net early  in the 1st period, we should eliminate much of the hope Montreal has left and take the game.  Of course, something tells me it won’t be that easy. 

 Let’s keep and eye on whether Boudreau changes Fleischmann’s spot in the lineup or takes him out all together.  Like I have said before, Boudreau likes Fleischmann and I think Boudreau will either keep things the same or move Fleischmann down to the 3rd line and move Fehr up. 

Haven’t heard anything about S. Morrisson yet. 

Exciting day for D.C.

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3 down, 13 to go

Varly keeps his eye on the prize as he makes 1 of his 36 saves against the Habs in the Caps 6-3 Game 4 victory on April 21, 2010

Tonight’s game against the Canadiens was thrilling in many ways.  It was close fought in many ways and it was intense in every way imaginable.  (Is it just me, or is it inevitable that any two hockey teams, even those such as the Capitals and Canadiens who have very little history, if any between them, will ultimately come to hate each other by the end of a playoff series? ) And with tonight’s win, the Caps have indeed taken a huge step toward ending this series.

Varly was the star of the game. If it wasn’t for him, we obviously could have been behind by at least two goals, if not more, at the end of the 2nd period.  He is joined there by Ovie, Gordon, Knuble and Semin.  The PK, even though it gave up one 2nd period goal, was awesome and once again the Caps got major contributions from the grinders and the muckers.  1st Boyd Gordon scores a SH goal in game 3, then he sets up Knuble’s SH goal with a pass that Backstrom would have been proud of. 

With Gordon’s sweet assist and Chimera’s goal, we got two more huge points from our 4th line which now has 3 goals in the last 2 games.  I challenge anyone to show me a 4th line better than the Caps in the NHL.  That’s what we have going for us, our depth, speed, skating ability and punch on all 4 lines.  Credit Boudreau for rolling all 4 lines all the time, keeping everyone involved in the game and showing the trust in all of his players to give them an opportunity to contribute – something which must be engendering more team spirit in the locker room which can only help us as we move forward.

You can see that with each game, Ovie is adjusting to Montreal’s defensive tactics against him.  Today, neither of his goals came from his traditional left wing position, but rather down the middle and in the right slot.  Even though Semin did not score, he was humming tonight and you can feel one coming for him. 

The 1st Montreal goal came from the defense not hustling enough and the 3rd was because the Caps were playing a little sleepy with a 3 goal lead.  Overall though, I thought the defenseman did a good job of clearing the puck with confidence and precision while absorbing a lot of hits from the feisty Montreal forecheck.

I am so often wrong about everything I write about on this blog.  But the one thing I called right was that tonight the Caps would have a

Knuble scores the biggest goal of the game as he sends one past Price while the Caps were short-handed at the end of the 2nd period.

 couple of PP chances in the 1st period due to Montreal being over-hyped for the start of the game.  Thankfully, we were able to get the PP monkey off our backs for a night as Ovie buried one past Price.

Montreal did a lot of little things right tonight, but once again, when the Caps escaped the 2nd period with a tie game, they came out firing in the 3rd period.  Their 1st shift of the 3rd was awesome as Knuble almost had his 2nd goal right in the crease.  

The Caps continue to kill the Canadiens on the faceoff dot and aside from 2 faceoffs Gordon lost on the 2nd Montreal PP of the 2nd period, we again put the Habs at a distinct disadvantage throughout the night by winning puck possession on a consistent basis.

I watched the  post-game news conference’s and one Montreal reporter asked Boudreau whether the Caps were toying with the Habs and compared the Caps to a cat toying with a mouse before pouncing for a kill.  Boudreau did not take the bait, but as a fan you have to enjoy watching our team take another team’s best shot two games in a row in their building and then destroying them in the following period. 

No one in the Caps locker room would admit this I’m sure, but I’m sure they want to keep up with Philly, Pittsburgh and now Boston who have all taken 3-1 leads in their series.  We don’t want to give any of those teams extra rest over us.   But first thing’s first, we got to close out the Canadiens on Friday night.  The close out game is always the hardest as we learned last year when the Caps came back against the Rangers after being down 3-1. 

But let’s enjoy win #3 tonight and sleep with images of Varly flashing his glove in our heads.

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