Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Mice Are Still Blind

I have not been particularly impressed with the NHL referees that have worked at Verizon Center of late.

Probably the biggest gaff that went unrecorded (and, amazingly unremarked on) was the blatant offsides of Petr Prucha of the Rangers when he scored on the Capitals on 1/3. Many people at the arena weren't aware of it, but from my seats, I could see the press box replays, and even the Madison Square Garden announcers were shocked that it wasn't called offsides. It was obvious, to the point that I wondered aloud if the power play awarded to the Capitals seconds later wasn't some odd way of the refs saying, "here's one for you guys," in return.

I also think the Capitals may be trying too hard. Brooks Laich said earlier today that he felt like the team let Boudreau down this past weekend when they dropped two in a row (against the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets), sealing the Canadiens' coach Claude Julien as the second-in-East assistant coach for the All-Star Game. Earlier this season, I saw Laich working his ass off for every shot on goal he was able to get, and I felt he was working so hard to stay at the levels he reached in the final third of last season, he was actually getting simply quantity, not quality chances.

My belief is that is part of what happened this evening. The team felt they let their coach down by not getting him into the All-Star Game, and so they came out charging. But, look at the shots on net; virtually every one of them hit Roloson in the logo. That is great for an NFL quarterback, but not so good for an NHL sniper. Like several "easy win" games this season, they went with quantity of shots over quality. Granted, there were certainly some quality shots that just didn't make it, through luck in some cases, skill in others, but too many of the Capitals shots were textbook saves for Roloson, and it was no surprise that he was able to make the saves that he did.

I'm hoping they reevaluate their game on the trip to Pittsburgh, otherwise, a Sidney Crosby blindsiding nut-punch is going to be the least of their concerns.

I know all about trying too hard. I do it all the time at the National Tours and the National Championships. When I sit back, and "just ....... drive" (oh, Chris, we still miss you), I do just fine, or at least as fine as an outclassed F-stock Camaro or a underwhelming stock-class WRX will do. But when I get stressed out, and start overdriving, that's when the terminal understeer sets in. Calling Wendover?

Igloo tomorrow night, and then back in DC for Saturday. My fingers are crossed.

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