Wednesday, April 15, 2009

They're Here!

Playoffs start today! The sucky thing about it is simply that I have to work tonight, and can't go. So, Pat is going with his friend Bryan, while I make sure I turn my phone off and cross my fingers and try not to go insane with anticipation.

The trip to Atlanta last week was fun. I snuck down to the glass during warmups to get a few photos, only because our seats were on the opposite end of the ice.

Boyd Gordon and Donald Brashear were still out, so the hard-working Keith Aucoin was centering the fourth line (he was just sent back down on Monday since everyone, except Brent Johnson, has been cleared to play).

The game itself wasn't all that great. The lackluster play kinda scared me, to tell the truth, because the only reason the Capitals won is simply because of Simeon Varlamov's heroics in net. He did get the team's "hard-hat" award for his play, but it was terrible to see several odd-man rushes after certain defensemen decided to step up on a play, and then leave their partner out to dry when the inevitable breakdown occured.

Does Erskine look asleep there, or what? Maybe that was part of the problem? Though, to be fair, he wasn't one of the biggest issues last week.

The shoddy performances against non-playoff bound teams during the final week of the regular season has me fearful of what will happen tonight. Hopefully the abysmal game on Saturday will rile the team up a bit and have them wanting to come back from a terrible 7-4 loss to the Panthers. Several stories have been written already about how Theodore will need to step up in order to preserve the team's playoff hopes, but it's not just him; it's the entire defensive corps that needs to rethink its purpose. Don't get me wrong -- it's great that Mike Green contributed 30+ goals to the team this season. But 30+ goals does not a Norris Trophy winner make. The defensive side of his game still needs a lot of work, much like Jeff Schultz needs to work on being more than a moveable pylon out there. Putting the two of them on a line together last week was horrifying, as Schultz was left as the lone defender more than once when Green jumped into the play and a pass was intercepted.

Keys to the game are most likely to be :
*minimizing defensive breakdowns leading to odd-man rushes.
*not letting the Rangers camp in the crease. Make anyone who tries pay the price. Lift his stick, push him around, just do something. As badly as Theodore handles rebounds, letting someone sit in the crease is just asking for trouble.
*have a designated camper on each line. Brooks Laich is the poster child for this. Eric Fehr does it well on occasion. Backstrom is starting to do it a little more. But someone needs to be there for the juicy rebounds, and just to get in Lundqvist's face.

The playoffs aren't the only thing that's here. My AST struts have cleared customs! The coilovers will be on their way here soon, and that means the ESP WRX build will commence.

The car is scheduled for surgery starting May 4th, at IAG Performance. Whee!

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