Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adversity :) ?

I think it is great for the Caps to be facing all of this adversity
--Alan May, CSN Washington

"Adversity" here means both in terms of playing hockey and in terms of relationships with the media. Conventional wisdom is as Alan May opines here, and I agree as well.

Here is May's reasoning (emphasis added):

All of the criticism and the personal attacks will bring this team closer together, it will create a tighter bond in the dressing room, it will keep the players more focused on their respective roles, it will force the coaching staff to work harder at creating a consistent winning recipe all season long.

That bold part I think is especially important. Last season, everything seemed too easy for the Capitals from, well, the season opener until mid-April. All season long the Capitals were toying with the fickle luck of scoring off the rush, a very high-risk high-reward strategy. A goalie who is on his game can see most of the Caps' shots off the rush and stop most of them.

We can't have much confidence in the team's ability to adapt, either, at this point. Bruce Boudreau is a fan of the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, a season in which everything goes right, like 2009-2010, sure makes the team look like it's not "broke." As we found out, it was, but it's flaws were simply masked or not exploited until the playoffs, when most coaches try and focus their game plan to expose the other teams' deficiencies, Jacques Martin included.

In the meantime, if the team is having visible issues, the coaching staff and management is forced to make adjustments, like convincing the players to go to the net, play the cycle, and hustle back to play defense: in other words, to play better Corsi hockey. Maybe if the Caps had had issues last season we would have seen Alexander Semin wait for Brooks Laich to screen the goalie before shooting or the team play a bit more conservatively--even with a passive forecheck--to limit chances given up off the rush.

At any rate, adversity is good. Hopefully we see a return to the hard-working Capitals of 2007-2009 who relied on speed and outchancing the opponent rather than skill and defensive zone breakdowns by the other team to get high percentage opportunities, and luck in burying those chances. While this means fewer 5 goal outbursts, it also probably means a more consistent team both offensively and defensively down the stretch and through the playoffs.

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