Ed. Note: Today, the latest member of the team hits the ice. Jason Rogers currently hangs his hat in Virginia, has studied in Paris and worked in China. But where ever he is in the world he’s a Caps fan through and through, which makes him a keeper in our book. Jason sports #8 – and the “C” – playing center for the Manassas Sperm Whales. Srsly.
So how was your lockout? Was it full of impotent recliner-ridden rage at the little men on the TV? Did you swear, absolutely SWEAR, that this was the last time the NHL had abused you, and that you were done telling friends your team eye black was from “walking into a door?” Did it feel like capitalism had finally gorged on its own fat and that communist China was looking pretty good right about then? Well I spent my lockout in communist China, and the view was much worse.
I’ve played the young American writer in Paris, studying at La Sorbonne. I’ve done the Great American road trip, having piled into my car with my two best friends and driven 9000 miles across this great nation one summer.
But this Fall I found myself doing marketing for an American study abroad company in China, and I had no hockey to keep me company. No period-by-period updates to drown out the propaganda loudspeakers. No trade rumors to distract me from the whippings at the re-education camp. Every morning I would wake up and have nothing to watch but Donald Fehr’s jowls flapping in the wind.
But hockey is back, and all is well! Right, Caps fans? Right?! Sure, falling to the Leafs last week earned us the absolutely worst record in the NHL, but that’s just par for the course for DC sports. We’re not yet ten games into the season, so every team in the league is still shaking off some rust. But here’s what we’ve learned from the last few games:
- The Fastest Way to a Man’s Heart is Through Another Man’s Groin: Tom Poti’s Solid Play
Old Iron Groins is back on the ice, and frankly he’s looked sharp. After missing nearly two years due to a string of groin injuries, Tom has been making smart plays in the corners and skating hard. Good to have you back, buddy. Anything that keeps Jeff Schultz’s goofy ass off the ice.
- Flow is a Fickle Mistress: John Carlson’s Bad Play and Mike Green’s Worth
I’ll be honest: I’ve said for two years we should’ve traded Mike Green. Especially that first down season after our high-flying “Young Guns” years, when Mikey wasn’t quite himself and he was letting one too many pucks skip by him and out of the zone. We should’ve traded him then, when other teams were still in the dark about him and would’ve swapped us their firstborn.
Now, inexplicably, we’ve signed Lieutenant Liability to a huge new contract and the rest of the league is laughing. His once-potent offense no longer excuses his flat-footed defense. And what’s worse, he’s brought down my Jersey-sake John Carlson, the greatest actor on earth, who’s known for being a good, technical defense man. The best praise you can give a D-man is this: I felt most confident when John Carlson and Karl Alzner were on the ice.
Now, sporting long hair and looking like a goddamned hippie, Carlson has been personally responsible for at least a plurality of breakaway goals. I used to be proud of the unsung hero on the back of my jersey. Now I’m starting to get embarrassed.
- Ovi and Out: Ovechkin’s Move to the Right Wing and the Death of the Curl-and-Drag Move
A lot’s been made of Ovi’s move to the right wing and its effect on his production. So far, it seems to have forced him out of that awful curl-and-drag move from the point that everyone on earth saw coming.
As for the positional differences? He is an exceptional enough athlete that it cannot be an excuse for him. Ovechkin can skate circles around world-class athletes by virtue of his natural talent. Does he work hard, too? I wish I could confidently say yes. If he wants to not be written off as a fat schlub, he needs to put in the work to learn that new position.
So, we got shellacked by Pittsburgh, despite Vokoun Fleurying all over himself and misplaying the puck. Tuesday is another day, and Toronto is coming to town. I’ll be at Verizon watching the game, and here’s what I’ll be keeping an eye on.
The End of the Semin Syndrome?
What is the one knock against the Capitals that stings the most? That almost always, it looks like the other team wants it more. As any hockey player will tell you, that one cuts deep. Symptoms of this bitchassness include: giving up leads in the third period, check; not wanting to skate to make the play there to be made, check; and Matthieu Perreault crying, “Utilise-moi, Adam. J’suis le tien.” (Side note: I can also speak Mandarin, so if Jeremy Lin wants to re-up with the Islanders, I can work that, too.)
Some of this can be attributed to players not being in the best conditioning due to the long off-season. That’s a real excuse. But every team in the league is functioning with this same variable. So you have to be the first to shake off the cobwebs. Extra hours on the ice or in the gym. You’re getting paid millions of dollars a year, at my age, to play a game I pay a hundred and fifty bucks a season to play in the spare hours I have to myself after I work my thirty-grand-a-year job. So f-ing skate, K?
To Holt-by or Not to Holt-by
Holtby looks like Jesus. He needs to play like it. Adam Oates looks like the Grinch. He might need to coach like it.
We all fell in love with Braden last playoffs when he stared down that little Twerp Peverley like a consummate boss and stood on his head for so long he got CTE. But the NBC crew calling the Pens game said it honestly: “That’s not NHL-caliber goaltending.” There it is. And it’s sad, but it’s the way things are.
Neuvy was right during Translate-Gate when he said he was the better goalie. We have a list of old boyfriends like an experimental trip through Europe: Braden, Semyon, Jose, Cristobal. And what we need to learn from it is that it’s easy to flash in the pan. If Neuvy can prove himself, we need to put a ring on it, to the tune of several million dollars a year.
Feel free to check Jason into the boards, but keep it clean or it’s a 2-minute minor for you. Plus, you don’t want to anger a Sperm Whale.