|Hey, Alex! Earn your Captaincy!|
Both Mike Knuble and Karl Alzner spoke after yesterday's game about how the Capitals are searching for that "switch" - something they can just flip and make a late charge that will show everyone that they are as good as they are capable of being. The general agreement among Caps media is the same thing: that something is missing, and once the Caps find out what it is, they will be fine. But the scary thing is, I don't think that they will be able to find that switch, because I don't think it exists. Not right now at least, because this team is without an identity. I feel as though they have little confidence in themselves and their ability to win games. You got the sense after the Kings tied the game yesterday, or at least I did - that the Capitals were going to lose. They had great energy for the first 15 minutes of the game and were outplaying the Kings, and then they just stopped playing and sat back on their lead. How do you let that happen? Last year, the Capitals would keep coming at you when they were up 5 or 6 to 1. This year? If they're up by one, they stop. Blame the new defensive system, blame the coach, blame whoever you want, and you will be wrong unless you blame the locker room.
This is Alex Ovechkin's team. The big blue C on his jersey says so. Ted Leonsis and George McPhee have bet $124 million on the Russian wing, and the time of his judgement has come. How will he be remembered? As one of the most gifted players to ever play the game who collapsed in crunch time? Or a true champion and captain? He has got to step up and lay down the law. He must make his teammates establish themselves, because time is running out, fast: the Capitals only have 26 games left. Oh, and guess what? Those 26 games include the Blackhawks, Red Wings, Canadiens twice, Lightning, and Flyers, the teeth of the Capitals' season. He must make his teammates play for pride. This is the Capitals' shot. This kind of talent is going to be almost impossible to keep together long-term because of the salary cap. And forget the Southeast Division, the Capitals are need to going to bust their behinds to make the playoffs if they do not pick up three wins or more on their upcoming 5 game road swing that begins tonight. The panic button has officially been pushed. Now we need to see how the Capitals will respond as they head into the buzzsaw. And please, pray to whoever you pray to that they rise to the occasion.