clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Weekly Preview: Four Lines and Forty Minutes

New, comments

The Capitals are nearly one-quarter through the season, and are developing some good (and not-so-good) habits. Jason Rogers takes a look at what this week holds for the Caps in his Weekly Preview.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Good day, Washington, D.C.! It's another capital day in the capital city, and the Capitals have some Western cooking on tap this week. The Caps swing out to Detroit for a little payback against the Red Wings before coming home to host the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche at Verizon. Last week the Capitals went 1-1-1 for three points, and currently sit second in the Metropolitan Division.

The Caps have an interesting, boring habit they're developing, and one young player is fighting to find a niche (quite literally), plus the return of "Liable to Libel" in this week's preview.

"HOLD TIME IS 20 MINUTES"

They say the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. I say, that depends on your friends. With the Caps this season, you usually know which you're getting by the end of the 2nd period.

About 73% of the time, this team's story is written by the second intermission. So what can we take from this?

The Capitals have won 11 games this season; they led headed into the third period in eight of them. The Caps have lost four games; they were losing headed into the third in three. About 73% of the time, this team's story is written by the second intermission. So what can we take from this?

We can admire their stalwart resistance to flip-floppery, the sort of abstinence-thereof that might've won the 2004 Presidential election for a certain Democratic candidate with an equine face. We can appreciate that they rarely blow leads in the 3rd period - the sort of nail-in-the-tire bugaboo that can waylay the best laid plans of MoJo and men. We can accept with grim solemnity and the nobility of the yoke the knowledge that teams just don't come back in the third that often, and so the fact that the Caps don't tend to, either, means - well, it means they're a hockey team in the NHL.

But it is this trend I watch with the perverse fervor of a voyeur: what happens in the final stanza? With just a few games to go before the seasonal quarter-pole (in this instance not what happens when you walk by Victoria's Secret/Abercrombie while Christmas shopping), how does this team close out games? Do they cling tight to leads or do they let them slip through their fingers? Do they accept their Now Serving number for the guillotine, or do they write their own reprieve in sweat?

Champions, like Life, uh...find a way. If the Capitals can continue the miserly confining of leads and find a way to turn the tides of late-game losing, this red wagon could really start rolling deep into the steep part of the season.

A WHOLE LATTA LOVE

The Dallas Stars are the highest-scoring team in the NHL, with a league-leading 3.61 goals per game. Colorado, the Capitals' opponents on Saturday, are 8th, scoring just under three tally-hos per contest. How have the Capitals fared this season against high-scoring teams? Eh, comme ci, comme ça. They've played only two teams in the top ten, getting well and properly whoop-ma-tized by the Rangers 5-2, then turning around the very next game and spanking the Bruins like a dominatrix committed to her craft, 4-1. What can we glean from this? Not much, but stay with me here.

Michael Latta, resident brobean (By the way: have two X chromosomes? You're a chickpea!) and aspiring pugilist, has dropped the gloves twice this season, once challenging Philadelphia to fisticuffs, and once insinuating that the Dropkick Murphys weren't that great or that The Departed sucked or something, I don't know, he fought vs. Boston. While Philadelphia is actually second-to-last in the league in scoring as well as in having ugly jersey colors (lookin' at you, Anaheim), both the Capitals' game against Philly and the game against Boston had something in common: they won both.

Michael Latta must fight. Because he can take it. Because he is the hero Washington needs. Victory is the Rancor, and escape lies through its fists.

What does this mean? Michael Latta must fight. Because he can take it. Because he is the hero Washington needs. Victory is the Rancor, and escape lies through its fists. Salvador Dali bent time around surrealist branches and table edges; Latta wraps it around his knuckles, five minutes at a time.

Night must follow day and Michael Latta must fight. So, whom must he fight? I'm glad you asked, and with proper grammar.

DETROIT RED WINGS

Whom Must Latta Fight (WMLF?): Oh my god this is easy Mike Green.

Why: Tribal bicep tattoo that says "Family." Tribal. Bicep tattoo. That says. Family.

DALLAS STARS

Whom Must Latta Fight (WMLF?): Winger Antoine Roussel. He leads the team in PIMs and fighting majors. Plus, I heard that Susie told Tommy who told Patty that he said that Latta looks like a dork. So, recess. 3pm.

Getty Images

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Whom Must Latta  Fight (WMLF?): Cody McLeod, not just because he is a noted ruffian and leads the team in PIMs by literally almost double the next-most player, but because this is the first image that appears when you Google him. Surely this is An Eater Of Souls, and must be vanquished.

None of this is all too serious, of course (see you in the comments), but it is worth paying attention to the effect fights have on the Caps' success rate. For some teams, they are valuable catalysts. For others, they are the collateral detritus of an ill-disciplined roster, the symptom of something deeper, the stink of the fart. For Michael Latta, fighting is not a bad role for him, an on-the-margin player whose role on the bottom line reads: Spark plug.

Tom Wilson needs to be developing his hands for stickhandling and shooting. Let Latta use his fists.

And with that preview complete, we turn now to the segment that Shia Labeouf live-streamed himself reading for 24 straight hours...LIABLE TO LIBEL: A BAKER'S DOZEN LIES ABOUT THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS!

1. Henrik Zetterberg performed all his own puck stunts in the Swedish straight-to-video adult film "Freaky Deke-y."

2. Justin Abdelkader builds intricate scale models of NHL arenas out of Lego, then stomps around smashing them, mimicking news reports about a monster called The Abdelkader.

3. Whenever a penalty is called and no one is sure who committed it, remember to check out the usual suspects, like Danny Dekeyser Soze.

4. Since partnering with Amazon, all the Red Wings' practices have become paperless; they store their plays on their Jakub Kindl.

5. Many Capitals fans pretend to not even see Mike Green in his new home uniform, claiming to be red-Green colorblind.

6. Dallas Stars brothers Jamie and Jordie Benn lead all players in the NHL in having androgynous names that sound like Power Rangers.

7. Tired of being forgotten as a fifth or sixth option in Chicago, Patrick Sharp was traded to Dallas, where people forget there is a hockey team.

8. The Stars haze their rookies by giving each one a notebook and requiring them to get each player's signature. Defenseman Johnny Oduya will only sign if you tell him, "I admire your work, Johnny," to which he responds, "ODUYA??" and you let him high-five his friends. Be sure to laugh.

9. Mike Green is not the only former Capital making a living in a new city; in fact, if you look at the Stars' roster, you'll see Cody Eakin out a living in Dallas.

10. Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov is actually a consistent, elite NHL goalie; his baking time just needed to be adjusted for altitude.

11. Believe it or not, NHL legend Jarome Iginla was the Avalanche's leading scorer last year, but you probably didn't hear about it, because he was Igincognito.

12. Have you heard about the number-one overall draft pick phenomenon they call "Mac?" No, you've never heard of Nathan Mackinnon? Oh.

13. His Avalanche teammates call center Jesse Winchester "The Sheriff." At least, oh, how he wishes they would.

So there you have it, Caps fans. Washington has a chance to boogie with some wayward westerners on their way to six points this week. If they can keep the whole operation ship-shape, a week-long win streak would do wonders towards telling us what sort of team this really is, almost a quarter into the season. Hopefully it's a winning one, darn it! So have a great week, and as always, Go Caps.