It’s difficult to write about a hockey team in November, because it’s still so early in the season. Trends are just developing, new guys are still fitting in, the right combinations are still being found. What makes this Capitals team even more difficult to write about is that I still have no idea what to make of it yet.
Are they the team that blows out Detroit 7-1? Are they the team that sleepwalks through a mini road trip in Western Canada and takes a ton of penalties? Or are they the team that struggles through two periods, and then blows teams away in the third, like in the Philadelphia and Anaheim games?
I must admit I have been pleasantly surprised for the most part with the play of some players. Mathieu Perreault has been dynamic, and has provided a ton of energy and skill to the fourth line. Dennis Wideman is going to be an extremely wealthy man when he becomes a free agent this summer, being as he’s hitting prime age, he can chip in with good offensive numbers, and he’s been much better than I expected, even as good as he was already last season (I mean, really, if Christian Ehrhoff got 10 and 40, you would have to figure Wideman would get something in than range-either way, enjoy his time in D.C., because it’s going to be awfully short). I think Roman Hamrlik has been solid too, if unspectacular, and he’s already out to a pretty big lead on the team in blocked shots.
There have been lapses in concentration, and, as mentioned before, a couple games where they simply were out-hustled and out-played. But I don’t think those issues necessarily look to be any kind of significant “red flag”. I see a team still trying to find itself, still going through the motions and still looking to play an entire game with its full complement of players healthy. The scary thing is that they’ve been a man or two down every game, whether it be John Erskine or Mike Green or various other players with bumps and bruises and Arron Asham’s fist embedded in their teeth. I can’t wait until they finally turn what looks like a really solid team into one that starts to truly assert itself as “the” dominant team in the league.
And that’s just something that’s going to take time, which unfortunately we don’t have a lot of in this day and age. We want the Caps to be good now, and we want them to be good and blow people out every single game. It’s tough to watch them struggle against teams you know they should blow out. But as with all other matters of faith, we have to believe that at some point they’ll hit that switch, and iron out all the kinks.
At any rate, let’s enjoy the fact that they’re already this good. They’re 8-2, have given up the fewest goals in the league outside of Edmonton, and the D.C. sports landscape is a dark and cruel place, inhabited by Orcs and terrible offensive linemen. Rock the warmth.