The Capitals continued along the road towards an inevitable winning streak with a magnificent 18-shots-against defensive performance and a completely serviceable 26-shots-for offensive performance. The penalty kill continued its recent resurrection, going 7 for 7, and the power play again showed tantalizing signs of life, despite the final 1 for 7 tally. All this added up to a 4-3 loss last night, but strongly indicates better things are on the way. We feel pretty confident at this time calling shots-against nightmares earlier this month complete flukes. That is, the complete opposite of the 3-0 start of earlier this month, which was not the least bit fluky, but rather a hint of what this season could be.
Performances lately look encouragingly similar to those of the afforementioned undefeated days, and we see the seeds of more extended winning streaks within such performances. We see gritty late-game comebacks in back-to-back nights (so close, so close) as evidence that the team does not lack heart, and will continue to battle back from deficits, perhaps stealing a game or two in the process. Sooner or later they will grow tired of late-game deficits, and an improved power play will net the necessary goals to prevent them.
If nothing else, feel better because at least as of right now the Caps are better off than the Rangers. What about the Rangers? What about their high-priced free-agent toys named Drury and Gomez that made them such fashionable picks to win the Cup? Those two centers have a combined 9 points (3 G, 6 A), while the perfectly fine center the Rangers jettisoned has 8 points (4 G, 4 A). It could be another delightfully long winter at MSG with big names that just (again) don’t mesh. We certainly hope so.
The Caps learned to avoid such tactics the hard way. Early season struggles (losing 6 of 7) show that their new way might not be pretty all the time. However, with solid (and thus, winnable) outings now piling up, it’s only a matter of time before the wins do as well, and all that good, home-grown talent, sprinkled with sanity-driven free agent acquisitions, will pay off. I choke on these words even as I am about to write them, but look at Pittsburgh last year. They stumbled around as a relatively young team for a couple of months before putting it together and, well, they lost in the first round of the playoffs, but you get the idea.