Saturday, April 24, 2010

Humbling Loss

As much as it pains me to say it, this 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens to force a Game 6 is probably one of the best things that could happen to these playoff Caps. They got a taste of their own medicine tonight, and were reminded that they have to play hard for a full 60 minutes. Tonight, they were the better team for two periods. And they lost because of the first ten minutes. This is the same position the Habs were for games 2 and 4. The only 60 minute effort the Caps have put in this series was in game 3, and I suspect we'll see another one in game 6.

They needed to be reminded that in the playoffs, you can't win on talent alone. They got that message after 20 minutes, but by then it was too late. Another thing that was important about this game was that it seemed to force Ovechkin into the leadership role regarding Semin. The two are close friends, and we all know it can be hard to tell your friend when they are doing something wrong. However, after last night's loss, Ovechkin pulled Semin aside. We don't know what he said of course, but in his post-game interview he called out both Semin and Tomas Fleischmann for not converting on opportunities. Bruce Boudreau also called out his scorers. This loss seems to have already resonated with this team.

There are plenty of reasons to think that the Habs will win game 6: momentum, home ice advantage, etc. However, the best complete game this team has played was in Bell Centre, and they will do it again. The Caps sometimes try to be too cute at home and who off. On the road, they bear down on defense because they know they have to. They dig pucks out of the corners because they know they have to. And Monday night, they will win because they know they have to in order to quiet critics who say they can't close a series. This team, as it always does, will bounce back. It would just be nice if the Flyers weren't resting as home while the Caps were doing it.

Plus, if there was any question that hockey players are the toughest athletes, that debate is over. Eric Belanger pulled out his own tooth on the bench after being hit with a high stick. He then went right back onto the ice. This morning, he said he lost 8 teeth from the high stick. Ouch.

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