Happy Thanksgiving Eve, family! I hope your cranberries aren’t too jellied after the week the Capitals had, because there’s new hockey to be played. We must first look back, however, and give thanks that last week is over, and a new gravy boat is on the horizon.
QUICK TAKES: Last Week: 0-2-1
Pittsburgh Penguins – Loss 4-0 – Huh? What? No, what do you mean they played this game? I don’t remember it. Nuh uh. Crosby scored wha-? Nope, sorry mister, not ringing any bells. Nope.
Montreal Canadiens – Loss 3-2 – Man can not subsist on Alex Ovechkin alone, and the Caps learned it here. When one player is carrying the whole team on his shoulders, sometimes Atlas shrugs, and I’m going to go rinse out my mouth for making an Ayn Rand reference.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Loss 2-1 (SO) – James Reimer is a witch and should be burned. Fifty saves. FIFTY. Ovechkin scored and the Caps dominated the shot count, so we’ll take the consolitory Loser Point, like a fudgsicle after a flu shot.
Like that flu shot, this week hurt, seeing the Caps taking just one of a possible six points. With three games this Thanksgiving week, let’s see what to keep an eye on circa this Turkey Day.
Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Okay, so The Trade was a bad one. You were right, Internet. Martin Erat has officially requested a trade out of Washington, while Filip Forsberg is still in Nashville, not operating in a state of open rebellion. Crap.
Washington got the short end of the goalless hockey stick, but the scales aren’t tipped as heavily towards Dollywood as los pollos pocos would have you believe. Filip Forsberg was one of our most highly-touted young prospects, but honestly, this is the Capitals we’re talking about. I’m sure there’s a bum walking around Adams Morgan that we gave a contract to once.
Forsberg only shined in Sweden because he played in their second-tier league, a league I can only assume was called “Sekondtiersesliga.” Forsberg only has one goal more than Erat’s zero, and exactly the same number of points. Like dumping your Boeing stock and investing it all in Old-Timey Jumping Eight-Winged Crashmobiles, we traded away the future for a now-bust stop-gap. Now we’re left holding the bag, costing four and a half million dollars, made by Prada. Excuse me, Praha.
That stinks, but the worst part is that Erat is exactly the kind of player the Capitals need. Like the History Channel on Halloween, he’s all about possession. When the Capitals aren’t playing well, they make a lot of “hopeful,” passes. As in, better “hope” somebody else makes a play, because that pass sucked. Lots of lazy lobs, lots of dump and chase, very few competent, tape-to-tape, click-clack passes. The zone is entered with the timid frustration of a geek in a talent show.
We never quite seem in control of the game. But Erat is very good with rationing the space he’s given by the defense, taking just what he needs to advance the play. He slows down the tempo and takes the time a hockey player needs to line up his targets, be they goals or teammates. I don’t know who will take his place, but it seems to me that if they already existed on this team, I wouldn’t feel so worried.
Brouw-beaten and Un-Laiched
Like Dumbo at an annual performance review, I’m going to address the underperforming elephant in the room. Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer, our second-line combo, have scored a combined thirteen points this season.
Those thirteen points come over a combined forty-eight man-games, “man-games” being a statistic, and not a mumbled excuse. That works out to ONE of them, getting ONE point, every 3.69 games. That’s preposterous.
I know, we all love the Laich puns. We love the smile, and we love the personality. He’s every fan’s favorite player. He’s the Capitals’ Chris Cooley. But he’s playing like garbage right now, and so is Smellin’ of Troy. Brouwer, he of Stanley Cup pedigree and Loveable Grinder credentials, has just not been making the precise skill plays that Oates’ system requires.
It may be the case that what we’re seeing is the exposing of the dinosaurs in the Capitals locker room – the players that were well-adapted for old iterations of the Caps, but are obsolete in the Oatesazoan Era. And so you have to ask: who do I believe in more? Adam Oates, and his system, or the old-school grit of guys like Laich and Brouwer. And I hate to say it, but I pick Oates.
Now let’s turn to a special Thanksgiving edition of the segment that Iran refused to destroy its stockpiles of:
LIABLE TO LIBEL: A BAKER’S DOZEN LIES ABOUT THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
- Senators winger Clarke MacArthur is thankful he doesn’t play in Boston, where his name would be something more like “CLAHK MACKAHTHAH,” or nails on a chalkboard.
- Ottawa is thankful to the six or seven Americans aware it, and not Toronto or one of several especially nice Tim Hortons’, is the capital of Canada.
- Bobby Ryan is thankful to get out of that freezing, desolate hell hole of Southern California to spend his winters in sunny Ottawa.
- The Sens are thankful to the American Congress for making Ottawa home games the second-most unwatchable collection of senators on TV.
- Montreal right-wing Rene Bourque is thankful that middle school is over and bullies have finally stopped saying he has a girl’s name.
- Left winger Travis Moen is thankful he never got that tattoo of “The Faucet” above his butt crack.
- The City of Montreal is thankful to mayor Rob Ford for making their secessionist anachronisms seem much less crazy.
- Habs defenseman P.K. Subban is thankful his parents didn’t name him “pee-pee” Subban.
- Right winger Brian Gionta is thankful there were no auditions calling for “average-looking white guys” when he was growing up, or he may never have found hockey.
- New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov is thankful for his name that makes him sound like someone James Bond would drown in his own shark tank.
- Right winger Michael Grabner is thankful for his name because it lets him make his favorite joke, “Grabner? I barely KNOW her!”
- The Greater Long Island area is thankful for “The Great Gatsby,” because it reminds the world that being trashy is a tradition.
- Mike Milbury is thankful for Alex Ovechkin, because making asinine comments about him is the only thing keeping his name in the news.
And on that note, we must part ways, Capitals fans. May all your yams be candied and all your ‘duckens be tur-ed. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and as always: Goodnight, good luck, and Go Caps.