Just before I left my office for the evening, two blocks from the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, I checked the resale market for this evening’s Caps-Montreal game. I was shocked; $9.99 for a nosebleed ticket! I half balked but elected to skip this one for an early dinner and to catch the game on TV. Now I see why my fellow fans have discounted the product so early in this lockout-shortened season.
There was a fair amount of uncertainty on how the Caps would start without a training camp and with a new coach for the third time in four years, but after getting blown out by Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, and Montreal, things are spiraling out of control. They were not in any of these games and these opponents are not top-tier. The whole team is playing in slow motion, is extremely soft, with the exception of Matt Hendricks, and are completely disorganized.
Despite their strong finish and eventual second round playoff elimination last season, the big knock on the Caps was their inability or unwillingness to forecheck in Dale Hunter’s 1-2-2 dump and chase system. At least they kept games close and took care of the puck in their own end. Now they don’t forecheck AND they don’t hit anyone. The lack of energy is sapping the will of this team to compete.
Two days ago, I watched New Jersey pummel the Flyers and last night enjoyed a fabulous Rangers-Bruins matchup, and couldn’t help but marvel at how these excellent eastern teams constantly forecheck and pressure their opponents into mistakes. Tomorrow, the Caps play New Jersey. Unless they start taking the body, crashing the net, and forcing some turnovers in the offensive end, this new coach and his new system won’t have a chance. Still watching but very worried. Let’s Go Caps!