Sunday, December 9, 2007

Capitals Looked Sounded Were Probably Great

On a night when party-hosting duties kept me from seeing or hearing all but about a minute of the game, it would appear that the Capitals put quite the hurting on the Atlanta Thrashers (doing my best Bryant Gumbel impression here).

Wait a minute; wait just a minute. Turning on the TV just now to catch some non-Redskins NFL action has revealed that the game is being replayed on CSN. Marvelous. I’ve missed the first two goals, but I’m looking forward to seeing Mike Green’s continuing brilliance and Alex Ovechkin further creeping up on the NHL goal-scoring lead (and his getting back within shouting distance of a 100-point pace), much as the Capitals subtly creep up on the rest of the Eastern Conference.

There’s still a bit of a ways to go in that regard, but once the points are made up it’s incredible how far a streaking Caps team could rise and how quickly they could do it. Only 11 points between 15th place and 4th place! Sure, there are a lot of teams in that mix, but there are 50+ games left in the season. With the Caps clinging to .500 or slightly better through the getting-to-know-you stages of Bruce II’s tenure, it’s no longer just blindly optimistic to think that the worst is behind us. It might even be closing in on objectively realistic. Beating Atlanta, a team that has pulled off a similar turnaround after an 0-6 start, is a necessary step towards a renewed respectability.

Speaking of Bruce: calling out lackluster play and backing it up with surprising-but-necessary healthy scratches? Brilliant. Where have we seen this before with the Caps? How about never? Or at least, not recently. You’ve got to like the results and, if you were at the game, got to love your free pound of wings obtained via the 6-goal outburst (I always enjoyed my late-Saturday-morning Jerry’s pizza years ago after a Friday-night-Caps scoring binge). Even some normally crusty commentators across the message boards are praising Bruce and appear to be primed for a long-term embracing

Wow, just look at all those plus-ratings scattered across the Caps’ side of the box score. A lot of movement back towards the happy side of 0 for a lot of players. Continuing efforts like this one on this week’s home stand will push the Caps back towards the happy side of 8th place in the East.

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