Upon further review of recent events by the Washington Capitals, I find it necessary to give my great expectations a little reality check.
Caps vs. the New York Islanders: Yes, that was a total stinker game, a shit show if I may be so bold. Caps looked like they either couldn’t care less or couldn’t get their shit together. While it was a train wreck to watch, I especially felt bad for fans at Verizon Center who didn’t even get to see one goal from our boys. Shutouts are even harder to watch then losses; shutouts feel like the team didn’t even show up to play, while a loss, hopefully, usually includes some viable effort. So, while it would have been nice to see at least one goal in that game, maybe the team wasn’t into it because they didn’t feel the need to be into it. My reality check: Maybe the team was thinking “Which is more important; we beat the Islanders or we beat the Habs?” I heard all the interviews after the game. Everybody saying how badly they played, etc., etc., etc. But what if they were just focusing too much on the next game in Montreal? Not fair to the fans but certainly feasable. Dunno for sure, but a little reflection made me change my mind. A stinker is still a stinker though.
Caps vs. Montreal Canadiens: Much better effort here. So much so that the Habs fans were the ones feeling the disappointment of a shutout. But, at least they got to see their team fight and claw to the bitter end. But my reality check here concerns the desire to mete payback for the hit to Nick Backstrom by Rene Bourque on January 3rd. Hubs and I were betting on Erskine to dole out the punishment, but Matt Hendricks answered the call instead. We all knew Bourque would be expecting it and at the end you may say he prevailed, but payback was completed. My reality check: It’s a hockey game, not a 10 round title fight. Additional payback; while desired; is not reasonable. Yes, I have a high regard for Nicky and want to see retribution for those who hurt him, but if another member of the team had tried to punish Bourque again after the “bout” with Hendricks, we would have looked like a bunch of goons. But it does kind of validate my reality check from the previous paragraph.
Nick Backstrom’s injury: I seem to recall Nicky saying that he felt ok after that elbow to the head from Rene Bourque. I did hear that, right? So why is he still out? While concussions are no laughing matter, if he feels great, let him play is the common theme from some fans. Yes, concussions should take precedence, but what if there were more to the story? Could Nick also have an undisclosed injury that needs time for recovery? Many a time we have heard after-the-fact of players playing with an injury during the post-season. Naturally, these injuries would not be disclosed until later since opposing teams would obviously try to take advantage of them when a player does return to the ice. My reality check: IF the aforementioned WERE true, what better time to give Nick a chance to recover from an undisclosed injury while leading everyone to believe that his scratches are concussion related. Furthermore, we all know of Nick’s migraine problems, so let’s add this to the list of possible problems as to why he isn’t back in the game. As much as I miss Nick in the game (and I think the team misses him as well), if he needs to sit, he needs to sit, no matter the reason given. Get well Nicky and come back when you are 100%. (While I was writing this post, an interview from Sweden with Nicky was translated by Malin for Japers Rink. Frustration and headaches were mentioned, go read it if you haven’t already.) Have to admit, though, I am grasping at straws just a bit.
Player scratches and call ups: We’ve all seen it since Dale Hunter has become the coach. Certain players are being scratched game after game after game. Yes, I am talking about Jeff Schultz in particular. I jump to the conclusion that because he was obviously one of Boudreau’s boys from Hershey, he isn’t appreciated the same way now that Hunter has the reins. Ever since Hunter has arrived, we’ve seen the team try to become more physical, which I certainly appreciate. I’ve been asking for bodies against the boards for ages, so it’s great to see this addition to the Caps style of play. But if you’ve watched Jeff Schultz play, he isn’t a huge checker. And without Green to be paired with, he looks like he’s a little lost out there when he does get a chance to play. When Orlov and Kundratek got called up, many fans asked why, since we already had Erskine and Schultz. My reality check: I have absolutely no clue the exact reason why players are getting healthy scratches. Maybe that's ok. It is possible they just aren’t Dale’s or Jim’s cup of tea; it is possible they are having difficulties adjusting to Dale’s system, and it is possible that it’s none of the above. When it comes to Schultz, jump to the conclusion of a possible trade if you must, you could just be right. Since Jeff is technically tied up by contract for a couple more years, I’d bet on a trade by the end of February. (Since I’m terrible at gambling, don’t lay any actual bets on that statement, I’ve been known to be wrong.) This reality check is more of a shoulder shrug/meh/whatever for me.
Caps must win every game/all the time: Come on, really? Time for you to get a reality check if you really think that.
Since math really hurts my brain there are no stats to back any of this conjecture up, just a few reminders to myself that a good dose of reality makes watching the Caps a little easier at times. So, that being said; what color is the sky in your world?