Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Woes in Washington For the Best??

For the Washington Capitals, this is another test for this team-- trying to get the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and hope that they have enough steam to make a respectable first round showing should they get in. However, there's really one thing that is needed for the Caps in order for them to learn from this season.

Not make the playoffs.

There's really no way around it, the Caps need to not make the playoffs for them to actually get a wake-up call. Firing Bruce Boudreau and hiring Caps' legend Dale Hunter wasn't enough of a wake-up call. Losing their top center didn't do much in order for them to step-up and become the cohesive team unit to be able to win games with just a gritty performance. Heck, they can't even show up for games that they have against the team they're fighting with for that last spot (losing 5-1 to the Sabres last week) and then keeping a non-playoff team into a game, allowing them to win in the last minute (4-2 loss to Tampa).

If the Caps were to make the playoffs, it would be a bad reinforcement for the team, as they would be rewarded for putting up a "good enough" effort and basically back-door their way into the playoffs, which is great on one side of things-- but it will not give the team the motivation at all to actually put forth an effort because they got by enough to make the playoffs-- so if that's good enough, that's what they'll stick by.

Maybe what Matt Bradley said over the summer was correct, as the performance of the Caps this year hasn't really dismissed his comments about the culture of the team being very nonchalant and the team not being prepared for practices in the right way. While many would say Bradley was just a scorned player not asked to be back-- this year is something that is proving his comments to be plausible--as if many didn't see that during the Caps/Pens 24/7 Series on HBO.

To miss the playoffs may force the hand of owner Ted Leonsis to change the landscape of the team-- maybe resulting in the man who built this team, George McPhee, and overhauling the whole team logic. When push comes to shove-- the high hopes being dashed without a playoff appearance could be the straw that breaks the camel's back and would be a wake-up call for the entire organization.

As a Caps fan for a long time, it's hard to want your team to not make the playoffs when they're this close and this deep into the battle for the last spot; but after the quick start, there really hasn't been much to call home about in terms of the season. Alex Ovechkin hasn't been himself, Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth have been very streaky, and the team itself doesn't have the swagger it once had just a few seasons ago.

For a team that was in the discussion for the Stanley Cup Finals, for a team that was supposed to have their core of players ready to create some kind of dynasty, for all the hype and all the publicity that the superstars have gotten-- it has crash and burned in a Hindenburg-esque fashion. While they can still make the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and face the only team they've beaten in the playoffs since the 2006-07; they could have the motivation to be the underdogs and shock the world.....but with the way things are going, it won't happen any time soon.

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