Where the Rubber Meets the Road

A few weeks back I wrote an entry about how some were overreacting to a couple of bad Washington losses, consecutive setbacks to the Rangers and Sabres on Oct. 12 and 13, respectively. Now that the Caps have lost eight of their last 10, you’re probably moving aside to make room for me on the ledge. I sincerely appreciate the altruism, and I’m not saying I won’t join you out there eventually. But not just yet, thanks.

I’m still not convinced the Capitals are a bad hockey team. (My mama always said and still says I’m stubborn.) Let’s examine some of the evidence. They’re 5-8. That’s not good. At that pace, they’re not even going to reach the 70 points they finished with in each of the last two seasons. One of my mates in the media uttered this after Friday’s loss: “Playoff teams don’t lose eight of 10 games.” Sounds like a wise old saying, except it’s not true. Hell, at least one Stanley Cup champion that I’m aware of lost 10 straight regular season games. Made the playoffs, won the Cup.

Going into Monday night’s game at Carolina, the Caps are tied for worst record in the NHL. The basement. Ten points. But look a little closer. Every team has played at least 11 games, and a few have played as many as 15. Twenty-eight of the 30 teams in the NHL have between five and eight wins. Ottawa (with 12) and Detroit (with 11) are the outliers. The Caps and the Thrashers — tied for the bottom spot in the Eastern Conference — are both three points out of the final playoff spot with 69 games (or, in Atlanta’s case only 68) games to play.

Clearly, all hope is lost, eh?

If not in the Eastern Conference, then certainly in the West, where both Phoenix and Edmonton are four points out of the last playoff berth with only five months left in the season. It could be that next April the Caps and Atlanta will be the worst two teams in the East, and the Coyotes and the Oilers will be the worst two in the West.

I’m betting against it.

In what way(s) are the Capitals a bad hockey team?

Goaltending? Olie Kolzig is 37 years old. He also has a 2.36 goals against average and a .920 save pct. The last time he had a lower GAA, he won the Vezina. The last time he had a save pct. of .920 or better the Caps went to the Stanley Cup finals. Has he let in a soft goal here and there? He’d be the first to tell you he has. Kolzig has also allowed three or fewer goals in eight of his nine starts. With all the offensive weapons Washington has, his performance should have translated into more than four wins by now.

Brent Johnson’s numbers this season are roughly the same as those he’s compiled in his first two seasons in Washington. They’re also tainted by that night in Buffalo when he was hung out to dry by his teammates. Historically, he’s a better goaltender when he doesn’t see the 34.3 shots a game he’s seen since coming to the District. Johnson faced an average of 23.8 shots per night before he arrived in Washington. His numbers took a rather unfair beating in the second half of the Buffalo game, and he has played reasonably well otherwise.

Goaltending isn’t why the Caps are the worst team in the NHL.

Defense? We all worried about it coming into the season. The Capitals surrendered 300 goals in 2005-06, the second highest total in the league. They pared that total only to 275 last season, and it was still the fifth highest mark in the NHL. Washington has allowed 35 goals in its 13 games this season, the 13th best total in the league. Over a full season, that pace would lead to 221 goals against. The last time the Caps surrendered fewer was in 2002-03, when they allowed 220 and made the playoffs. Last season, every NHL team that allowed 241 or fewer goals against made the playoffs.

This year’s Caps have held the opposition to three or fewer goals in 10 of the team’s first 13 games. Two seasons ago, the Caps held their opponent to three or fewer goals for the 10th time in the season’s 23rd game. Last season, they did so in the 17th game. With veteran free agent acquisition Tom Poti on the sidelines because of a groin injury for each of the Caps’ last five games, Washington has still managed to limit its foes to three or fewer goals in four of those games. Poti is the Caps’ most experienced defenseman, and he leads the team in average ice time per game. With him on the sidelines, Brian Pothier (267 NHL games) becomes Washington’s defensive elder statesman.

It’s not the defense.

Special teams? They could be better for sure, but they’re already better than the last two seasons. The Caps finished 26th in 2005-06 and 24th last season in the league’s power play rankings. Washington’s power play is 19th in the league thus far this season, and is clicking at roughly the same rate as it did last season. And that’s without any goals from the injured trio of Alexander Semin, Chris Clark and Poti. Those three combined for 32 power play goals in 2006-07.

The penalty killing outfit also stands 19th on the NHL’s ledger. The Caps were 28th in that department in 2005-06 and they were 23rd last season. Both special teams have been a shade better of late, and I figure them both for middle-of-the-pack (at worst) status by season’s end.

Coaching? I’m sure I can produce at least one person who will swear the Caps would be 13-0 if only Michael Nylander and Alex Ovechkin had been playing together since the start of the season. But there’s no objective way to quantify the contributions of the coaching staff, and I can’t say with any degree of certainty that the coaches are responsible for Washington’s 5-8 start.

Offense? I think we’ve got something here. The Caps have scored more than two goals just twice in 13 games. Dating back to last season, they’ve done so only twice in 22 games. When Washington opened its wallet over the offseason, it spent on offensive players Nylander, Poti and Viktor Kozlov. It also added Nicklas Backstrom, another offensively gifted player. So where’s the offense? (More on that in the next post.)

Another goal here, another goal there, and maybe Washington is 7-6. Or 8-5. Or 7-5-1. You get the idea. To me, the Capitals have played well enough to win in four of their eight losses. That’s of little to no consolation to anyone right now, but I think it’s useful when you’re trying to decide whether to throw the baby out with the bath water here. This is not a bad hockey team.

Here’s a little something for you to chew on. The Caps have scored 33 goals and have allowed 35. They’re 5-8. The New York Islanders have scored 33 goals and have allowed 35. They’re 7-4.

New Jersey has scored fewer goals and allowed more than Washington, but the Devils are two points ahead of Washington in the standings by virtue of a couple extra-time losses (5-6-2). Boston has scored two fewer and allowed two fewer, and the Bruins are at 7-5-1. Minnesota has scored three more and allowed five fewer. The Wild is 8-4-2. San Jose has scored one more goal than Washington, and has allowed one fewer. The Sharks are 7-6-1.

Glen Hanlon is quoted in the papers today as saying the upcoming three-game road trip is “huge.” I’d agree. At some point, you’ve got to start winning the games you’re playing well enough to win. The only style points the NHL awards are for shootouts, and the Caps have exactly one style point in the last season-plus. We all understand this is a young team, but at some point (and some point soon) they’ve got to start winning and winning frequently. And winning consecutively, because that’s what good teams do. It’s what playoff teams do.

Some of the Caps themselves said we’d know more about what kind of team this is after 20 games. To me, that’s a fair measuring point. Looking at the Caps right now and advocating complete upheaval would be tantamount to an NFL team blowing everything up after a 1-2 start. (A little) more patience is required, and six or seven games worth of patience is not likely to bury the team. They’re in last place, sure. Three points out of a playoff spot.

Now they play three straight and five of the next six on the road. By the time that stretch is over, they’ll be 19 games in, with 12 of those having been played on the road. We’ll have a better idea then, especially if some of the wounded are able to return in the interim.

I’m not saying I won’t be on the ledge eventually. I am reserving the right to be wrong about these guys for just a little bit longer.

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32 Comments on “Where the Rubber Meets the Road”

  1. Lou Says:

    Mike, great post and very informative. I also am tired of all the negativism being posted on the Blogs as I don’t think it’s fair to this team. We’re only 11 games into an 82 game season and I’m sure the coaching staff will adjust to where the improvements need to be made. Injuries haven’t helped as we currently have two 30 goal scorers out of the line-up and special teams has had its moments. Overall I think the CAPS have improved a lot over last year and we have some exciting new players to watch. I know I look forward to each and every game.

  2. Jeroen Says:

    Thanks for pouring some objectivity onto our little stack of panic! While I can’t blame anyone for feeling so gloomy after our eight losses in ten games, it would be nice if people let the ship sail it’s course before yelling that it’s lost at sea. Keep up the excellent work!

  3. Amy Says:

    Mike, great post. One think does bother me at this point. With the injuries to Semin and now Clark, I don’t see how you can keep Backstrom and Nylander (aka the Swedish National Keep Away Team) together. When Backstrom played one game with AO and Kozlov did Hanlon see something he didn’t like because he broke the unit off it real fast.

  4. kenhockey Says:

    Mike, Mike, Mike. Interesting analysis, but realistic-I don’t know. IF is always the big word.
    This team has problems, more than I thought they would at the beginning of the season, and if they lose the next 3 out of 4, you can join us on the ledge.
    I would rather have had them start 0-3 and then be 5-5, then this. What is disheartening is the lack of depth the team has in replacing some of the better players when they go down for some period of time.
    I don’t buy into the arguments you raise about other teams and their goals for/goal against. I don’t care about other teams. Also, I was at the Flyers game Friday, and they came out flat in the 2nd and 3rd period, IMHO.
    What started off as a season of promise, has become a season of the same old Caps.
    I hope I’m wrong.

  5. Matt Says:

    I think the biggest problem I have with the team right now, is what I perceive to be lackluster effort too often.

    I agree with what you’re saying Mike, I really do not think this is a bad team and I think they should be winning a few more games than they have so far. However, I’ve made the 2 1/2 hour trek down from the Hershey area for the Caps games against the Canes, Islanders, Canucks, and Flyers and will be in town again Saturday night for the Tampa Bay game.

    The Canes game was the only one where I thought we gave a good enough effort throughout. That’s the biggest problem I have right now. I’ll just go back to Friday, because it’s the freshest game in my memory bank right now.

    I thought the Caps played a pretty solid first period. The physical play was there, the effort was there and the Caps handled the Flyers pretty well for that first 20 minutes. In the second period, the physicality was gone and the Caps looked lost. The play was sloppy and I was wondering what happened to the Caps team I saw in the first. The third was much of the same, IMO, until Ovechkin’s goal with 4 mintues left…then everyone seemed re-energized and they battled for the final part of the game. It seemed to be almost an exact carbon copy of the Vancouver game.

    I just don’t understand it, you have to be consistent for very close to, if not all 60 minutes of an NHL game to come out victorious. The 25 minutes I felt the Caps played inspired hockey on Friday night, is not good enough to cut it against most opponents, no matter the record. Whether that’s on the coaching staff or not, I have no idea, I’m not in that locker room, but I have a desire to know why we can’t put together 3 periods of solid effort most nights.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for this team to be perfect. With some new pieces and still being a relatively young team, I fully expect there to be lapses and even a few outlier games where the team just throws down a dud. However, I expect a lapse of 5 or 10 minutes to be commonplace, not 35 minutes (or more) of uninspired play, which is what I’ve seen in 3 of the 4 games I’ve attended this season.

  6. TJ Says:

    Mike,

    Even with our injuries I still think there is no excuse for the lack of PP production, let alone the 5on3 production. And like I have always said I think the lack off PP is due to the coaching staff, we have the talent on the team but there is no creativity from the top.

    Im not saying the season is over, but they cant keep digging holes for themselves.

  7. crapitals are back Says:

    lou, youre tired of all the negativity, im tired of all the L O S I N G!!!!!

  8. Mike L Says:

    So far, I am not worried. The Caps have played 13 games, 6 at home, 7 on the road. Of the road games they’ve played:

    – Two in MSG, home of a Stanley Cup contender
    – One in Buffalo who were the Eastern runner up
    – One in Atlanta (who won the Southeast last year!)
    – One after playing a home game the night before.

    In the six home games, they’ve also faces a legit Stanley Cup contender (Vancouver) as well as Pittsburgh, who are a better team.

    But enough excuses 5-8 is 5-8.

    One more thing about the Caps record that should be pointed out…the Caps record in games within the division: 3-0. The next 14 games feature 11 divisional matchups…

    If the Caps come through that with a good record, they’ll be fine and be pushing to the top of the division…

  9. Marcin Z Says:

    Wow Mike i guess thats why they pay you the big bucks huh??

    I wouldnt have a problem with the Caps record if they lost every game the way they lost the Pens game. Playing hard and Playing well but just simply not getting the bounces. But the Caps have played far too many games or periods where they simply stink up the ice.

    Take out the 7-1 Toronto game and see how those numbers look??

  10. jwh37 Says:

    I think they’re not a bad team either.

    I also think that with a better coach they could actually be a good team, instead of “not a bad one”.

    The lack of creativity, lack of movement, lack of everything on the PP is the coach. Plain and simple.

    As for the coaching staff correcting these issues, I don’t think they have it in them. They don’t seem to make changes during the games, and they don’t seem to make changes any other time either, unless you count rearranging the lines 100 times change. I don’t! The system needs to change. Hugs must sound like the teachers in Charlie Brown to these guys by now.

  11. fauxrumors Says:

    1) We can appreciate the gist of this post, but at some point ‘playing well’ and “giving a solid effort” and still not winning has to become unacceptable
    2) No, 5-8 is not the end of the world, but at what point should Cap fans get concerned? If they lose 2of 3 road games? If they go into December under .500?
    3) As we saw last year the East is very competitive, so falling far behind early makes it very difficult to over come. On paper this team should NOT be 5-8, regardless of the goal differential.
    4) If this trend continues throughout this month and the team is still treading with a .400 or below wining % then GMGM needs to find someone who can get these guys to play to win!

  12. pepper Says:

    I’ll certainly grant that the team is better than last year, and the year before that (which seems to be one of the themes of your statistical notes), but there is still a long way to go toward respectability. And other teams are improving too.

    The other theme appears to be one of “if we got an extra goal or two, the team record would be a winning one.” That gets accomplished by experience (of which our young players have another pro season) and consistent effort for the entire game, or the oft-mentioned “heart” (which we sorely lack thus far).

    I second two points raised above:

    1. Where’s the passion to play a full game? Ovie’s got it. Kolzig’s got it. Clark’s got it. The rest? Well, everyone needs motivation from time to time (or frequently) to perform their jobs well. That’s the coach’s responsibility as the boss. So I blame Hanlon for the lack of 100% effort, whether its a guy’s first few shifts of the game (with which we don’t seem to have a problem) or his shift mid 2nd period, or late in the 3rd.

    2. Power play – Hanlon’s personnel decisions and strategies here are mystifying. And I know its been beaten like a dead horse already, but putting Motzko on the 1st unit point in an important “benchmark” game against Pittsburgh is indefensible. Hanlon makes too many decisions on hunches and guesses, praying something will work (a recent quote from him revealed just that). I do that with my fantasy team. An NHL coach shouldn’t with his team.

    Yeah, we really missed Semin and Clark these last couple of games. But I’m putting most of the blame so far in the “coaching” category.

    Let’s see what the next week of games brings, and, like Hanlon, I’m going to pray that something will work.

  13. sidehillman Says:

    Mike, I don’t have a problem with your stats, but as you know, stats can tell any story you want it to. I do have a problem with what some of the others have stated & that is the lack of any energy or organized play in periods 2 & 3 of most games. Either they are not properly conditioned or they can’t concentrate for any amount of time over 20 minuets. Hockey, like any other sport has ebbs & flows & momentum shifts, but complete disintegration after the 1st period is not a momentum shift.

  14. Marcin Z Says:

    Ya as far as the power play goes.

    Brashear on the PP ???

    really??

    REALLY???

    Come on.

  15. Zeebo Says:

    Mike, I think you’ve constructed a bit of a strawman argument. I don’t know many people who are saying that the Capitals are a bad team in makeup. I don’t know many people who are saying that they’re playing atrocious hockey. In fact, I see a lot of people on the message boards and elsewhere saying that the Caps DO have a good team, they’ve shown flashes of brilliance, but they are frustrated by the fact that team seems to underperform in some crucial way–usually scoring–night in and night out.

    Most people “on the ledge,” where I now find myself, think that the Caps as presently constructed should be doing much better. It’s about results. The Caps aren’t producing results. They need to. Since the ingredients seem to be there, the obvious place to look is to the man putting the ingredients together.

    I like Glen Hanlon. He did a great job of getting AHLers and fourth line cast-offs to come together and play some gritty, hard-nosed hockey coming out of the lockout. But guess what? As the talent level has increased, the “tough to play against” factor has declined. It creates the impression that while Hanlon is good at getting third and fourth liners to perform, he can’t do the same with scorers.

    I’m certainly not qualified to coach an NHL squad (or a local high school squad for that matter), but one has to wonder why we have a right wing playing center on our top line after signing a very good center this summer to replace our old right wing who played center. Now it appears he’s shifted to the wing. Good. Surely he’s being replaced by one of our two offensive centers, right? No, he’s being replaced by our checking line center.

    Now on the second line, we’ve had a center playing left wing and center, and a left wing playing right wing. Both Petty and Semin have skated on the right side at times so that Backstrom can play left, even though he’s not a left winger. The guy who was supposedly the most NHL-ready player not in the NHL, and supposedly one of the most defensively responsible offensive youngsters, is playing out of position. Furthermore, he’s got only one scoring threat to pass to on a good night, since one of his linemates is Nylander, another pass-first center.

    Part of the frustration here is that it appears to many fans that putting Ovechkin with Nylander is something along the lines of a no-brainer. This is a guy who had great success with Jagr two seasons in a row in NYC, and to a lesser extent here in DC. He can play with top-flight talent. Yet we haven’t seen it for any meaningful period of time.

    Then there’s the powerplay. The awful, dreadful, soul-crushing powerplay. What are we to think when we see talented players standing still, passing station to station, and taking shots that everyone in the barn anticipates? The PP system just doesn’t work. It doesn’t appear to me to be a problem of execution, but one of design. This isn’t a new problem. The PP has been underwhelming throughout Hanlon’s tenure. He can’t use lack of talent as an excuse anymore.

    It’s not something that can be quantified with any sort of data, but I can’t help but think that another coach might be able to do better things with this squad, one way or another. Few fans are interested in this “played well enough to win” stuff that we’ve put up with for so long. It’s time for results. We’re a month into the season, and the Caps stand at 5-8. Those are unacceptable results.

    At some point, results and not effort must become the benchmark by which this team is measured.

  16. TJ Says:

    Zeebo – Pretty much sums it up. Very nice.

  17. gusty161 Says:

    Mike,
    In theory you’re right that it’s still too early go into a full-fledged panic mode. However, if this team loses its next three games (highly possible) and then comes back and lays an egg against Tampa, Hanlon is done. When Glen said this was a “huge, huge road trip”, he couldn’t have been more correct. It’s huge for the Caps and for him. Hopefully, the players understand it as well.

  18. The Deuce Says:

    I agree with most of what has been posted here. I don’t believe the Caps are as bad as their record says they are. I also agree that we miss Semin and Clark and Poti terribly. But, as I’ve stated several times, when you have guys out of the lineup, you have to adjust accordingly. All the great, and most of the good teams do it. I’m as tired of writing that this is the perfect time to play OV and Nylander together as you probably are of hearing it, Mike. So why not try it? Is it some kind of stubborn, “I’ll show the rest of the world my beginning of the season matchups can and will work” thinking? Because it hasn’t been working now for 10 games. Please, just for one period, try putting our best center with our best winger. Saying someone would “swear the Caps would be 13-0” if they put them together is avoiding a totally legitimate question. I have yet to hear a rational explanation for why, in the midst of an 8 for 10 losing skid, where nothing else has worked, we don’t at least try it. In fact, many NHL teams play their best players together when they’re in a rut. So please, Mike, give me a rational explanation. Why won’t we try it?

  19. Scai Says:

    I don’t get all this whining about the powerplay. Guys, have you looked at the numbers occasionally? Since they revamped the units (and who did that if not Hanlon?) they are 6 for 22 (27%) in the last five games. It cannot get much better than that. Granted, it doesn’t always look great, but that’s the case also in Detroit, Montreal or whereever you look. Scoring on every fourth chance while looking ugly for the other three – I’ll definitely take it.

  20. Zeebo Says:

    Scai,

    Over the course of a season, I think the PP % is a useful statistic. However, 22 chances is a small sample. How many of those 6 goals were scored because the system was working? I don’t think very many. Take Ovechkin’s PP goal the other night–it was a slapper off a face-off win. That counts as a PP goal, but there was nothing unique to the PP about that goal. Over the course of the season, that’s irrelevant. When looking at a small sample, and when evaluating changes made, you have to balance successes like that against total, utter failure when the team A) fails to get set up in the zone, and B) gets in the zone, gets the PP set up, and then passes it around the perimeter, station to station, and takes predictable shots that are fairly easily turned aside by the goalie or blocked before they reach him. I look at the PP and see the same mediocrity I’ve seen the past two season, even though the talent is better.

    They’re currently 19th in the league at 16.1%. This should be a top-ten PP, or close to it.

  21. Scai Says:

    Why should this be a top ten powerplay? Because 20 of the other 30 teams have only crappy players that can’t produce? This team is at best going to sneak into the playoffs, it is definitely not one of the top ten teams in the league. So I don’t see why anyone would expect them to be above average on the powerplay, especially missing three key guys. If the PP is in the middle of the pack for the season they will be okay. It’s other areas they need to improve on.

  22. Zeebo Says:

    This should be a top ten PP because they have a lot of talented PP players. Some five-man combination of Ovechkin, Semin, Nylander, Poti, Kozlov, Backstrom, and Clark ought to be better than what half to two-thirds of the league can put out there.

    Let’s look at the top ten teams:

    Florida–Jokinen is very good, and he leads the way with 7 PPGs. Nathan Horton has 3, Jozef Stumpel has 2, Richard Zednik has 2. We Caps fans know what Zednik brings to the table these days, yet he seems to be doing well when surrounded by superior talent in FLA. He didn’t here. Why is that?

    Islanders–Guerin leads the way with 3 PPGs. There’s no denying his talent. But who else do they have? Comrie is decent, they have a good QB in Bergeron, and Trent Hunter can come up with some big goals. Are those players better than the guys the Caps can roll out? I don’t think so.

    Buffalo–Paul Gaustad leads the way with 4 PPGs. Gaustad. Third or fourth line guy. I think coaching can enable a guy like that to be effective. Sure, Kotalik, Vanek, and Campbell are good, but again, are they more talented than the individuals we’re putting out there? Are they better than Ovechkin, Semin, Nylander, and Poti? I’m not willing to concede that.

    Dallas–They have Modano. He’s obviously a great player. They also have Jokinen, Hagman, Morrow, and Zubov. Very good. I don’t think the Caps should be too far behind those guys, though.

    We’re down to 23rd this morning.

    I see no reason why a clever coach couldn’t get the PP unit functioning better. Defense should be this team’s weakness (I’m glad it isn’t). They have the horses to make things happen on the PP.

    Just my take.

  23. dumpnchase Says:

    Okay, finally free up some response time. Thanks to all for taking the time to write. There’s a lot of great stuff here.

    Ken,
    The only reason I introduced the other teams is to show that the Caps haven’t gotten some bounces. The goal differential would indicate they should have a better record. And they likely will in the long haul. I’d be more inclined to advocate mass upheaval if the goal differential were minus-22, like Atlanta’s is.

    Matt,
    I hear what you’re saying about the effort. I don’t know if I’d call it lackluster, but it’s certainly uneven. The Philly game was a great example. The Caps dominated the first 17:30, and should have led by more than 1-0. But then they let the Flyers back in the game and didn’t turn the jets back on until it was too late. There have been two or three such games at least, IMO.

    TJ,
    The PP has also been inconsistent and the 5-on-3 has been anemic. But the caoches can’t make the passes, take the shots, move the feet and keep the puck in. To me, a team with this much talent should be more deadly on the PP. And I believe they will be. Missing three key PP components can’t help. Would you rather see Semin, Clark and Poti on the PP or Gordon, Flash and Brash? Not to slight those latter three, but I know who I’d prefer.

    Faux,
    I can’t put my finger on a point when we should start getting concerned. Too much depends on the performance of the other teams in the conference. As long as they’re bunched tightly as they are now, there isn’t any need to panic. But it could change in a hurry.

    pepper,
    I agree with your Motzko assessment.

    Zeebo,
    Brilliantly stated. “At some point, results and not effort must become the benchmark by which this team is measured.” I agree, and I was trying to point out that the results actually “should be” a bit better than they are, and that they likely will be in the long run. Results matter now for this team, they have to.

    Gusty,
    I’m generally not prone to rash reaction. I’d prefer to wait it out rather than jump the gun, all things considered. As far as “if” is concerned, let’s wait till it happens, if it does. Real life is difficult enough without the introduction of hypotheticals.

    Deuce,
    Well, they tried it last night. I am one who believes if it’s going to work and work well in the long run that 8 and 92 are going to need some practice time together. Anyone who has watched Nylander play has to know that he is not the easiest guy in the world to play with. As to why they hadn’t tried it before, two reasons. One, they truly believe that the best chemistry combos are with 8 and 25 and 92 and 28. And second, I think they believe the resulting line combos make the team a bit weaker defensively.

    Scai,
    You’re right about the power play but so is Zeebo. They put together a few good games, but they haven’t shown the killer instinct and precision you see from a finely honed unit like Carolina’s. I agree with Zeebo that this team should have a much better power play, top 12 at least. Who knows where they’d be with 3, 17 and 28 healthy? Some of the other guys are going to have to find a way to get it done.

    I know this: Chris Bourque can run and quarterback a power play from the point. He’s a natural. I wanted to see him up here late last season to see what he could do. I hope he doesn’t feel like he has to be a savior here, but I also hope they put him back there with the extra man.

  24. Chopseuy Says:

    ok, so that settles it then. We’ll wait till the end of the this 6 games span. By then, can we hold hands when we jump off the ledge? Kinda like a suicide pact?

  25. dumpnchase Says:

    Chop,
    If you think you can fly, is it still suicide?

  26. BernieWolfFan Says:

    This whole discussion about passion comes down to the Bench Boss. McPhee does not understand Hanlon was given the rebuilding tenure and can no longer or is capable of going beyond. Ted needs to also understand McPhee’s limitations and make a move. He’s had a decade.

  27. Chopseuy Says:

    2 games played (2 losses)…4 more to go…

  28. BernieWolfeFan Says:

    How long do any of you guys think Lindy Ruff will be in Buffalo?

  29. Chopseuy Says:

    4 games played (3 losses)…2 more to go…

  30. Chopseuy Says:

    5 games played (4 losses)…1 more to go…

  31. Chopseuy Says:

    6 games played (5 losses). That’s it. The “critical” road trip is over. So Mike, can we jump off the ledge now? We saved you a space up here. Let’s jump!!!!! It’s over! You know it. The fans know it. The team knows. It’s time to look forward to next season. McPhee said, next year’s draft is pretty deep. Who should we pick as number one pick?

  32. BernieWolfeFan Says:

    Chops,
    That IS the problem. McPhee!! Are you and yoos still thinking GM can run this team and make the so called changes, and have it matter?? Next year with George, what??


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