Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In which I fix the Capitals

The Caps lost game 6 of their 7-game series last night to Montreal 4-1.

A lot of people think these guys are choking. A lot of people are being critical of the people saying these guys are choking. I don't know if they are choking, but they are getting outworked and outcoached.

The Caps during the regular season had the best record in the NHL. They were an unstoppable scoring machine. But that was the regular season, and the cliche' is that everyone "take it up a notch" in the playoffs. Apparently, what that means is everyone plays defense for 60 minutes. Everyone except the Capitals.

That's not fair. Since game 3 the defense has been respectable, but there is no doubt the Caps are getting outworked by a less-talented Montreal team. And there is no doubt Bruce Boudreau is getting out-coached, simply because he has yet to adjust to what Montreal is doing. Boudreau is right about one thing, the Caps have 4 or 5 guys who are simply along for the ride.

So what changes to I make? First, I start Theo. Sorry Varly, but I ride the veteran now. I just feel that he's ready. Second, I yank Mike Green off the Power Play, put in Corvo. Stop forcing the issue with him and Semin - once teams tighten down, these guys wither and crumble under playoff pressure. I get Laich, Knuble, Gordon, et al - the Blue Collar guys - more ice time. I might even make a case for not dressing Semin, especially if he keeps playing like he was on the other team. It's painfully clear they have to get traffic in front of the net in order to get goals. Montreal has figured out it's better to give up 55 bad shots than 25 good ones, and they are letting the Caps shoot from long range where the goalie can see the puck clearly.

At practice today, I would spend the whole time working on fundamental stick-handling and passing drills, and no time on game strategy or power play. I want these guys to come out flying, not thinking about their struggles.

It's hard for me to envision a scenario where the Caps don't eek out a win. Sadly, if they give up the first goal, or go the first two periods without scoring (even if its 0-0), or go down two goals, I think it's over. The Capitals are playing to win a Stanley Cup. The Canadiens are playing to win a series, and that makes them dangerous.

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