Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Distracted Caps Lose Divisional Battle

If George McPhee was looking for a bit of "shock and awe" with his trade before the Capitals played the Carolina Hurricanes, the shock may have back fired. The Caps allowed 3 first period goals and never recovered as the Hurricanes blow away the Caps 6-3.

What preceded the game left both fans and players a bit on edge as the team's captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina were traded to Columbus for Jason Chimera. Yes, the same Chimera that got under the skin of the Caps and was involved in the play that may have injured Alex Ovechkin. McPhee wanted more grit and some salary space. He got it with this trade, but he also disrupted a very tight locker room.

The Caps changes in the past 2 and a half years has not had a shake up like this in it's ranks, unless we are talking about goaltending. McPhee even came out and stated he would like to keep the group together for as much as he could to give them another chance. He already has a tight nit group of guys and this shake up may have caught them off guard.

The end result is a team that was off kilter, off game and a team that failed to win against a weaker team and slipped in the standing a point behind the New Jersey Devils. All for more grit. McPhee may have realized his team lacked a bit of toughness. Chimera will bring that edge that is not quite a fighter and not quite a saint either.

What McPhee brought in was someone to add some energy to a team that seems to only thrive on goals. A player that can mix it up, and still have the speed to cut to the outside and make a play. Not so much a fighter, but an agitator. It is something the Caps have lacked since saying good bye to Matt Cooke, choosing Matt Bradley instead.

GMGM has also made room for another possible trade or pick up at the trade deadline. He dumps salaries of $2.5 and $1.375 million off his cap will only absorbing $1.875 and a contract through 2012. In a word, some cap "srtategery" going on here.

It was a shock for the Caps to make the move and deal the players that seemed to grow on the fans. Captain Chris Clark was the leader of this team, and a close friend to many in the locker room. His play through injury and hard working attitude seemed to satisfy the Capitals' faithful. Jurcina would probably be the last defenseman you would think be traded. He was a physical player that had a laser of a shot. The trade does ease the log jam of defensemen the Capitals have as well.

That shock seemed to rub on to the Caps as they took the ice to get their ninth straight win against a divisional foe. But that didn't happen. In one of the worst first periods I have seen the Caps play in some time, the Hurricanes took advantage of a stunned Caps' team scoring three goals in the first and never really looked back. When the Caps needed a save, they didn't get one from Jose Theodore. Not that it was entirely his fault, but he certainly didn't look very special out there.

In the grand scheme of things, it was simply just another loss. We sill need to see how Chimera fits into the locker room and how his play will affect the Caps as a whole. There might be more moves to come out of GMGM and that remains to be seen as well.

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