Are the Capitals the fore, or after? While they can brew talk of a "hot" stick, they seemed mortal against their divisional foes. They can play the best team in the east to four close games and drop a 5-1 loss against a non-playoff team later on. Are they ready for these intense battle or will the over look their opponents and get ushered out to a off season early?
The Capitals have shown that they can be a tough, talented team to beat, unless you play them a bit dirty. Much like the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes have been playing them.
"You've got to play those guys tough," 'Canes defenseman Joe Corvo said following their 4-1 win over the Caps in Raleigh, NC Saturday night. "You've got to get under their skin. We took a lot of their weapons away."
"Under their skin" is a good way of putting it. It seems this year when the Caps were faced with some chippy-ness, they somehow get off their game. Frustrating them is a way of containing them. The Capitals are not immune to lazy penalties and playing lethargic when faced with a bully-like team.
If the Caps are not ready to come to work for the playoffs, like they have been in a few games down the stretch here, then they will be answering those tough questions after their first round bow out. But they are too good of a team to have that happen and they have too good of a coach to let that happen.
It's time for them to put on their hard hats and go to work. They can't afford to take any team down the stretch lightly. Especially those who may be close to or have a playoff spot. The Caps have eight game remaining on their schedule, five of which are against the Southeast Division (two games against Tampa and Atlanta and a final game with Florida). They also play the Islanders, Toronto and Buffalo, teams that could be easily looked over and have played the Caps tough of late.
- The playoff picture is coming into focus in the Eastern Conference, but don't count out the teams on the bubble just yet. In an interesting scenario, all eight teams in the Conference maybe be divisional rivals in the first round with Boston/Montreal (North East Division), New Jersey/Rangers (Atlantic), Washington/Carolina (Southeast) and Philadelphia/Pittsburgh (Atlantic). Florida still has a chance to make it as well as Buffalo, but looking at their schedules it will be an up hill battle.
- The on going Alex Ovechkin and Don Cherry drama is updated on Puck Daddy's website. I have already said my piece on the hot stick. I concur, it is a very hot stick.
- Speaking of the Bruins, they have clinched a playoff spot with their win over the New Jersey Devils yesterday. the first team to do so in the East. The Caps are close but need a couple more points to wrap up a clinch.
- Walt Puddubny, a former NHLer, died suddenly in Thunder Bay, Ont. Besides having a fun name to say five times fast, Puddubny was a former Maple Leaf, Oiler, Devil, Ranger and Nordique. Puddubny was only 49.