Thursday, April 29, 2010

Morning After: Game 7 Heartache Still Fresh

As I watched the final secondsof Game 7 tick off the clock last night, my heart along with those of all the others who've so faithfully followed the Capitals for seasons past, fell to my stomach with that all-too-familiar pain. The pain of coming "this close" once again - only this year was supposed to be the year for the team that broke countless franchise records and earned their first President's Trophy. And this morning, well the pain is still just as fresh. In addition to being a single mom of twin teenage travel hockey and lacrosse playing boys and holding down a full-time job, Hockey Mom spends countless hours during the season following the Caps for both my blog and ScarletCaps.com. And I do it because I truly love this team - from the most authentic owner in professional sports in Ted Leonsis, to their great PR staff and above all, the individual players who've given us so much joy and hope during this past season. That's just one of the reasons I still have this feeling of emptiness deep in my gut...

There will be much fingerpointing and mud strewn in the aftermath of last night's loss and the abrupt shattering of yet another season's hopes of finally hoisting the Stanley Cup. Lots of media types (and of course the Crosby lovers) are placing much of the blame on Ovechkin. If you watched his post-game presser (where the distraught captain literally could find no words to explain the reasons for the loss), no one wanted it more than Alex Ovechkin. But unfortunately, therein lies part of the problem. As several of his team mates did not play to their potential through the entire series, the driven sniper tried too hard to make things happen on his own - not conducive to the "team play" concept. And that's the second problem. Stanley Cup winning teams tend to step up their games in the playoffs (especially their stars) and work more as a "team." That's where the underdog Montreal Canadiens beat us fair and square. There were no individual offensive stars per se shining for the Habs but their team work on the pk and one hot-handed goalie held the league's leading power play to a depressing 1 of 33. The Habs blocked 41 shots in the game last night - 41 freaking shots. How many did Mike Green block? Speaking of Mike Green, HM has been on the defense of the talented defenseman against Green haters for much of the season, but there's really nothing anyone can say (and that includes you, Coach) to defend his invisibility come crunch time anymore. Green just simply neglected to do his job - defending the puck - for the majority of this series. And on top of that, he handed the Habs two gift-wrapped opportunities resulting from his ill-timed, selfish penalties. Hockey Mom would have put #52 in time-out for the rest of the game after that first penalty. It really doesn't matter how many goals he scored during the regular season, he has now gained a reputation of not being able to hang with the big boys in the playoffs - which he will have to work his butt off to overcome.  And same goes with Alex Semin - though HM would not cry too many tears to see him gone in the off-season. As crazy talented as the Russian sniper is, he just doesn't seem to have the heart and is reluctant to get his nose dirty for those garbage goals that are all too important in the playoffs.

Yep, GMGM and the management group will have lots of difficult decisions to make in this off-season that started way too damn early. No secret, even more glaringly visible now, that we need more gritty help on the blueline. And maybe another veteran presence in that locker room (but God bless Mike Knuble for all his efforts) to shake some of these younger guys up. I don't know what the perfect answer is to building a team made for the playoffs, but I do know that this is going to sting for some time to come. Once I can even watch hockey again, I guess I'll be rooting for my Sedin twins and the Canucks. But for now, that's just too painful...

5 comments:

Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...

I too am disappointed but let's not get irrational about things.

The Caps need some changes and I'm sure some will be forthcoming but blowing up the team by making changes to 2 of their top players would be mistakes, IMO.

Hockey Mom said...

I am not advocating trading Green, Semin - maybe. Perhaps Green would be more effective at forward? Whatever the case, he needs to be able to step up his game big when called upon to be able to hang with such d-men as Nick Lidstrom, Drew Doughty, etc.
Also, maybe more of a tough love approach from the bench. Whatever transpires in the off-season, I am still a tried and true (and thanks to last night, put throught the wringer) Caps fan!

Angie said...

I agree with 'Usually' this team built around this core of young talent will improve with age and time, no need to rip anyone out. Last night's loss was not on the shoulders of the defense entirely. If the offense can't score you can't win a hockey game no matter how amazing the defense is. Yes Greens penalties were untimely, however even if the d's performance had been flawless, if the Caps can't score on the PP or even strength it matters not. Halack shut the door to what managed to get through the massive amount of Habs bodies. I was not heart sick or sad, they played last night more so than game seven of the Pens series last year. Each year they gain more experience, each year you hope they gain more wisdom as well so that they are better prepared for their next shot and I believe there will be many more to come!

If anything I am MASSIVELY disappointed in those fans that felt the need to boo and toss things to the ice, I am disgusted that fans were injured by people tossing full bottles of liquor from the 400 section onto a boy and his father. Those of the types of people that we do not need as Caps fans or fans of hockey at all!

Hockey Mom said...

Hi Angie:

I am totally with you about so-called fans booing the team - no matter what they were feeling about the undesired outcome. And throwing things -especially bottles- is utterly out of line and those folks should be arrested. What are some of these people thinking? Reminds me of that gross Phillies fan that deliberately vomited on a child. Get a life people - or follow another team. My mom (the greatest Florida State fan on the planet) always said "Your team is your team - no matter what!"

Oakden Wolf said...

Took me awhile, but here's a detailed analysis of the "no goal" call:

Were Ovechkin and the Capitals robbed?
(regarding goaltender interference)