Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caps loss helps Hershey

As much as I was rooting for the Caps last night I must admit that I am not totally devastated by their loss. For one, while I enjoy watching, following and rooting for them I am not a diehard fan so their early exit from the playoffs is not the worst thing for me. And two the Hershey Bears are likely to get much stronger on the blue line.

Karl Alzner will surely be back and it is highly likely that John Carlson will be returning as well. That will help the Bears depleted and undermanned defensive corps from now until the end of the season, hopefully mid June.

I watched the entire Caps game last night and I want this to be known before I say my next piece...I am a HUGE Ovechkin and Green fan. I think they are terrific players who are as talented as any in the game today.

BUT I don't think they wanted last nights game as much as the Habs AND I think Sydney Crosby has a much deeper desire to win then they do. I can't stand Crosby anymore than the rest of you but you have to give the guy his due...all he wants to do is win.

It just didn't seem like the Caps were playing with as much urgency as necessary last night. I understand Halak was absolutely ridiculous in goal, stopping 131 of the Caps last 134 shots in 3 straight games. But something else was missing.

The Caps never changed their game plan. They rarely crashed the net for rebounds and they kept doing the same things. The things that worked for them during the regular season weren't working now.

Bruce Boudreau sat Tomas Fleischmann down for this game 7 because of lack of production. But then I ask...what the hell was Alex Semin doing in the lineup?

I know Semin is supremely talented...maybe he rivals Ovi in the offensive zone. But this guy can't do anything different. He shoots and shoots and in this series they all got blocked. At least Ovi started going to the net and standing there...Semin won't do it.

There has always been talk of "is this team built for the regular season and not the playoffs" and obviously that talk is going to intensify now. But I thought they brought in some good players at the deadline to help with that in Walker and Belanger. Combine them with Laich, Bradley, Gordon, Knuble, and Chimera and you have a lot of bangers and guys who are willing to get dirty.

So I don't think they are that far away. I do think they ran into a hot goalie and a defense that was focused and blocking everything. **remind you all of 06-07 Hamilton?? when they beat the Bears in the finals with the same game plan**

I think you have to look at three reasons the Caps lost:
  1. Halak...ridiculous 97.76 save percentage and 1.00 gaa over the last 3 games. An all star team wouldn't win against those numbers.
  2. Boudreau...his unwillingness to change. When teams frustrate the Penguins you see Malkin and Crosby on the same line. Did he do that with Semin and Ovi the last couple games? Not much if at all. By doing this you make the defense choose who they are going to stop cause they can't stop both those guys AND Nicky Backstrom.
  3. Desire...the Caps didn't want it as bad. Some of them did but when I look at Ovi and Greenie neither of them seem to care as much as a Crosby or a Yzerman. I would say this will definitely teach them something. The past 2 years they weren't supposed to get there but this year they were Cup favorites so this has to sting more. It is time to focus more and get ready for next season.

But as I mentioned above, the Caps loss is the Bears gain. Looking forward to seeing Alzner and Carlson back on the blue line as Hershey looks to repeat as Calder Cup Champs!!!

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