Caps fans: There is no need to panic just yet. Many of you have already questioned Adam Oates’ ability to lead a team, the continuing absence of Alex Ovechkin, and some of the incredulous line combinations that have seen Jay Beagle stunningly become a top-line center. But fear not, my fellow brethren clad in Caps Red, we shall rise again (or not, but if not, we should totally throw the season for a chance at Seth Jones).
Seven games into the 2013 NHL campaign, the Washington Capitals find themselves with a record of 1-5-1. Not a problem, though, as they have another 75 games to go. Oh, wait, no they don’t! They’re about one-seventh of the way through their entire schedule already! Problem? Yes, sure is. Season ending problem? Far from it.
The Caps have given us, the fans, some very real signs of hope. They looked great for the first forty minutes against Ottawa, and despite being severely outplayed by Toronto for the majority of last night’s contest, they had every opportunity to force overtime until an errant Alex Ovechkin wrister cleared the offensive zone to end Washington’s hopes.
Furthermore, Michael Neuvirth has shown flashes of brilliance over his past five starts, including key saves late on Toronto’s Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk to keep his team alive. Neuvirth has consistently given the Caps a chance to steal points in the standings which they did not deserve, and with any luck, perhaps Braden Holtby will begin to provide his team more of the same when he gets his next start.
But the key to newfound success, my friends, is conditioning. Of course, 29 other teams are all in the same boat. However, not many teams rely as heavily on their speed and transition game as Washington’s skill players do. And whenever Jason Chimera appears to be the most pedestrian of skaters come the end of a game, well, then your s*** just ain’t right yet.
Tonight’s contest against Philadelphia on back-to-back nights should be a very tough test for DC. But let it be known, America’s (being built) Hockey Capital, the wins are coming. There’s just going to be a little more pain first.
So tonight, commute down to DC early, get rowdy at the bars, don’t buy any of Ted’s overpriced food or beer, and bring the noise back to Verizon Center. The boys in red are going to need an extra push behind them come the third. Let’s give it to them.