Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jose Three-or-more is not the answer

Before the Washington Capitals 4-3 opening round loss to the New York Rangers, I cautioned all my friends who thought (but no longer do) that the Caps would dispose of their opponents in five or (maybe) six games. Sure, the Caps can score a ton of goals. But that's during the regular season and certainly not, night after night, against a great goalie like Henrik Lundquist. So, like in baseball when the post-season is about pitching, playoff hockey is about goaltending. In short series, you see rested No. 1 goalies every night. No AHL call-ups, second-stringers or emergency stop-gaps.

And the Caps just don't have it. Jose Theodore, whose regular season performance was, by far, the worst of any No. 1 goalie in the Eastern Conference, allowed four goals on 21 shots. Two those goals, one and four, were softies and third one should have been stopped as well. A first-rate goalie makes those stops. Theodore didn't.

I'm not pressing the panic button because I never thought this series was a gimmie in the first place. The Rangers are a better team under John Tortorella than they were under the first coach, they have Lundquist and they kill penalties better than anyone in the league. The Caps coasted in the last month, were frequently uninspired and have the weakest goalie of any team in the playoffs in either conference. Don't be surprised if the Caps go home after the first round.

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