4/24 Capitals Lose Game 5 to the Habs and Oh Semin, Where for Art Thou? (An Open Letter to #28)
The Washington Capitals are now headed back to Montreal to subject themselves to possible customs problems and a different kind of red fan base that isn’t so friendly. I’m the eternal optimist and I’m proud of the this year’s Washington Capitals team. All my most positive vibes are focused on the creases in the Bell Centre. I’m visualizing pucks finding their way behind Jaraslov Halak. I’m visualizing a bored Washington Capitals goalie. Let’s get this done fellas. GO CAPS!
Now that I’ve done my normal encouragement – I can get to the part where I give out a little tough love. I wasn’t worried or upset when the Capitals tanked game 1 and gave the game to the Canadiens. Even the “Great 8″ is allowed to have a bad game. That so very rarely happens that people couldn’t help but make open comments about that game and Ovechkin’s far less than stellar performance. No problem – it happens. Washington came out looking more focused and more in-synch for game 2. Then, after making their way to Montreal to face the Canadiens on home ice for the next 2 games, they forged ahead with better performances by most of the D.C.-based team members. It was good to see and added flames to the fiery passion that has been raging in the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area fans all season. BUT – last night’s 2-1 loss to the Habs is an indication that the Washington Capitals haven’t quite figured out their playoff hockey, or the Montreal Canadiens.
Washington’s defense spent the entire first period back-wheeling it and Varly was not the same cool cucumber we saw in Montreal. Varlamov did stand tall, keep square and make some veteran saves, but I’m a goalie-watcher from way back. Last night was no exception. More than once, Semyon Varlamov lost track of the puck and it led to bad positioning and some nervous-looking scrambles. I’m not picking on Varly – just putting my observations here this morning. It’s not like he totally lost control of his game or made rookie mistakes that lead to more rubber in his net. Besides, he was playing a game that involves an entire team and that team could have done better. The blueliners absolutely need to come out with their A+ game on Monday night. There should not be another game like that - it’s the playoffs guys! And now, to Semin…
… Dear Alexander Semin,
When I Rock the Red at the grocery store; I’m not wearing a shirt that has the number 8 on the back. I’m wearing a shirt that has the number 28 on it. My red shirt clearly reads “Semin”, not “Ovechkin”. I do thank the universal forces existing in the NHL that the Washington Capitals have your fellow countryman, “the other Alex”, as a long-time player. I praise the hockey gods that Bradley, Knuble, Chimera and Laich are the hardest workers in the NHL. I am grateful to the people who helped shaped Mike Green into an excellent defenseman on the offense. There couldn’t be more appreciation coming from this fan that both Theodore and Varlamov have stepped-up to the tremendous responsibility that comes with presiding over the blue paint. You play the game you love, not only for the best regular season team in the NHL this year, but for the best Washington Capitals team in its franchise history (so I say anyway).
Guess what Alexander Semin? I may be of the netminder ilk and I may get all silly-excited to see Ovechkin do his fantastic thing, game in and game out, but ever since you became a Washington Capital; I wait in anticipation of seeing you get control of the puck. You have skills dripping from your pores. When you are in the offensive zone with puck possession; you can slow-down or speed-up the pace of the play like no other player in the NHL today. You play a smooth, slick, talented game of hockey #28 and it is awesome to watch when you are on your game. The only problem is – you haven’t been on our game for most of this round of the playoffs. Not even close.
This long-time Washington Capitals fan doesn’t spend her fan-energy on touting the virtues of the “Great 8″. He doesn’t need me to do that – all he needs to do is play his game and that speaks volumes all on its own. We all know he’s fantastic. If some odd set of unlikely events ever put me in a position where I could choose Crosby over Ovechkin for the Capitals; I would choose Ovechkin without hesitation or question. Aside from giving “shout-outs” to the goalie-types of the NHL, and the world at large; I put large portion of my Washington Capitals hockey fan-energy into cheering for you and loving the games when you are on YOUR game. Trust me on this one – you’ve got game Semin. You definitely have game.
All this fan is asking of you right now is that you take the next two, or so, days to reach around inside of yourself and figure out what is keeping you from doing what thousands, upon thousands of hockey fans know you can do with great skill. Some of us know that you had stops and starts in your NHL career. We know that you have had a contract issue that kept you from full-on play. We know you have suffered injuries that didn’t allow you to play for stretches at a time. We know your career is NOT Alexander Ovechkin’s career. Perhaps I am the only fan who doesn’t compare you to your teammate who sports an “8″ on his back (a place from where he has even scored goals), but I doubt it.
I don’t know if you have heard what some of the play-by-play analysts and commentators have said about you during this round of the playoffs, but I have heard you referred to as “the most skilled player in the NHL” by a guy who has spent his entire adult career talking about hockey. Semin, another thing I heard from an analyst was this: ”there’s only so much coaching a coach can do for a player – it’s up to the player to want to play.” I agree and I can only put out here, in the vast mix of all the pubic words on display about the Capitals – Canadiens series, is that you do have a chance right now to show all the fans, your country, your team and most importantly yourself, that YOU’VE GOT GAME and you’ve got one of the most gifted games in the NHL.
The guys on your team need to do what they best and that is up to them right now. As a fan who has been keeping the light on and the hope alive for at least 30 years (longer than you have been alive) – I expect your team to show-up and win. As a fan who has been disappointed by Washington Capitals players who should have done amazing things while in D.C., several times over; I am asking you with every fiber of my being – FIND YOUR GAME AND PLAY IT!!!!!
Sincerely – Your Fan Way Out Here in the Great Hockey Void
Let’s Get IT On CAPS!!! GO, GO, GO! – thanks to J.J. for getting in touch (we just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other) – peace – Mia (firstname.lastname@example.org)