Thursday, April 29, 2010

4-29-10: Capitals Loss to the Canadiens

I couldn't help but watch. Not only was it the only game in town, it was something of a spectacle. Game 7, underdog versus heavy favorite. The Washington Capitals, the Presidents' Trophy winners, were in an elimination game, at home, against the eighth place Montreal Canadiens, who didn't make the playoffs until the final few days of the season. The Capitals had a 3-1 series lead, but couldn't close at home. The Canadiens had won two in a row, but nobody gave them a chance. The Capitals, after all, had Ovechkin and home ice advantage. The hapless Habs had key injuries and were a bunch of has-beens and rookies.

But the Canadiens had the hot goaltender in Jaroslav Halak and the will to do all it took to win. The Capitals, despite all of their superior talent (Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green, etc.), looked like a team waiting for the big play. It never came. The Canadiens blocked more shots than I can remember (well over 30 in total) and kept Ovechkin quiet. Despite the hot start, the Capitals couldn't muster and good scoring chances for most of the game. The Canadiens simply smothered them and hustled their way to a 2-1 victory while being vastly out-shot by their opponents.

I was in a strange place in that I wasn't watching the game as a true neutral viewer. I wanted Montreal to win simply because it would have given the Bruins a home ice advantage in the second round (not bad for a 6th seed). A lot of talking heads were saying how disappointing it would be if Washington did somehow manage to lose. Tony Kornheiser used the term "choking dogs" whenever that came up. Most of these statements were made half-joking; today they found little humor in similar conversations.

From what I saw, it looked like the Capitals had acquired a bad case of "One Puck Syndrome" that some highly talented teams catch from time to time. Teams that rely on one or two offensive forces tend to continue relying on them even in dire circumstances. The Canadiens knew this. They knew that all they had to do was shut down Ovechkin by closing in on him quickly and reducing the number of shots. They did just that. Washington needed more from their support players, and it was apparent to me that Semin and Green weren't playing up to their ability. Green, arguably the most talented offensive defenseman in the league, took a costly cross-checking penalty IN THE OFFENSIVE ZONE, leading to a power play goal by Montreal to go up 1-0.

The key symptom of One Puck Syndrome is simple lack of playmaking. A lot of the Capitals forwards took a lot of shots from 50-60 feet. Halak, the Canadiens goaltender, was red hot, and welcomed the easy shots. And the shot blocking from Montreal was tremendous. Every one got in on it. That was essential to their success. Even when the Capitals did try to get in closer, the Canadiens defense shut down the passing lanes and squashed the chances with the help of a very strong goaltender in Halak, who would easily win the series MVP if they actually had one for the Quarterfinals.

So, with the Quarterfinals done, here are my predictions for the remainder of the playoffs:

Conference Semifinals:

Detroit vs. San Jose : San Jose in 7 games

Chicago vs. Vancouver : Chicago in 5 games

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal : Pittsburgh in 6 games

Boston vs. Philadelphia : Boston in 6 games

Conference Finals:

San Jose vs. Chicago : San Jose in 7 games

Boston vs. Pittsburgh : Pittsburgh in 6 games

Stanley Cup Finals:

San Jose vs. Pittsburgh : San Jose in 6 games

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

4-21-10: Silversun Surprise

I've been listening to this band called Silversun Pickups off and on for a few months now. I won't spoil it right away, but I was surprised after seeing a video of them playing live.

Have a listen to the song "Panic Switch" in the first video, then play the second video, which is the band playing the same song live.

Did something surprise you about the lead singer?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Train That Never Stops

I see the merits, but it looks like a safety nightmare.

Link is courtesy of Marginal Revolution.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Danny Rose's Goal vs. Arsenal

I meant to post this earlier in the week, but, with Spurs' win today over Chelsea, I can't help but celebrate a bit. This is Danny Rose's goal against rival Arsenal from Wednesday:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

4-10-10: "Something" from Concert for George

I just watched this yesterday. What a wonderful tribute. The bridge with Clapton and McCartney is simply incredible. I actually like it better than the original, as odd as that sounds.

Concert For George - Something - Paul McCartney

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