Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

That Was Not the Plan

Here we go again?  Not yet.
After watching Sunday afternoon's disappointing 3-2 loss in New York, which cut the Capitals' lead in their opening playoff series to 2-1, I will admit I was quite rattled.  I was upset with the way the game had ended, and I made my displeasure known quite clearly on Twitter.  I began to forecast impending doom, that the Capitals would drop everything, including their game plan, and end up on the losing end of another incredible upset.  If that Caps had won that game, everything would have been so much easier.  The Caps would have the Rangers pinned up against a wall, and three wins in a row would mean that DC had all of the momentum.
Thing is, though, we didn't win.  The Rangers are back in this series, and now they have the momentum.  There is no denying that.  But it is not time to panic. As I slowly cooled down from my forecasts of collapse, however, I began to realize a couple of things.
No team has ever won sixteen consecutive games on the way to the Stanley Cup.  The Capitals, at least on paper, still have the deeper lineup and the more explosive offensive players.  Michal Neuvirth is playing well.  Washington came back twice to tie the game, despite several questionable calls which resulted in a mountain of shorthanded ice to kill off.  And it took a fluky goal after an awful retaliation penalty by John Carlson for the Caps to actually lose the game.
That is not to say that the Rangers got lucky.  They came out hard, they stuck to their game plan, and they earned Sunday's victory.  They used their raucous home crowd as a boost.  They continue to block shots and they continue to establish a physical advantage early in games.  Their game is not going to change.  Neither can Washington's.
Now, with two days off, before an absolutely critical game four, it is the Capitals' chance to regroup.  They need to get that loss out of their heads, and they need to find new ways to respond to the physicality of John Tortorella's men.  They need to find a way to win game four.  Because right now, there is just a little bit of pressure on the Capitals.  If they falter on Wednesday, it will be time to wonder if we may be left hanging...again.

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