Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dale Hunter on the Hot Seat? Or is it too early. . .

The Caps' 5-1 loss to Philadelphia last night wasn't just a bad loss. It was an embarrassment. Every single Caps fan who went to that game should get their money back. After a 3 day break between games, the Caps came out with zero heart, zero emotion and zero preparation. They looked tired, sluggish  and completely disoriented. Three years ago, a two or three goal deficit meant nothing. The team would keep their heads up and battle. They had that confidence and winning attitude that keeps elite teams in any game. Last night, Vokoun gave up a lazy goal in the first period, and it seemed like they gave up after that. We lost every 50-50 battle, couldn't get anything going on a power play that went 4-6 last game, and couldn't muster any dangerous shots on goal. Philadelphia came into our town and showed the Caps who's the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference. The Caps on the other hand, need to figure it out before it's too late.

Jeff Schultz was a healthy scratch again, proving that Dale Hunter sees in him what every fan has seen for 4 years now, absolutely nothing. Roman Hamrlik is also a huge bust. It seems like he aged 10 years this offseason and is constantly taking penalties or reacting slowly to the puck. I'm sorry to say it, but Ovechkin just hasn't been the same since he was suspended twice two seasons ago. He looks like a beaten man, exactly like what Boudreau looked like after his last game coaching the Caps. He's a man without answers. Guess who was supposed to be the man with the answers; Dale Hunter.

Now, I know it's early. The team has shown some promise since Hunter has taken over, but nothing consistent. At this point, it is far too early to start questioning Dale Hunter's ability to coach this team to the playoffs, but for me, it's time to see something out of this team. I love Dale Hunter as a player and a man, but I hope he isn't in over his head here. Coaching in the NHL is an entirely different animal than coaching 17 year old kids in the Ontario Hockey League. I don't know what this team needs in order to wake up. Does Ovechkin need to be a healthy scratch? Does Semin need to be traded? What about Vokoun? Something has to give, and maybe it's time to bring Holtby up and give him a shot. I bet he's dying to get a chance to prove his worth to Dale Hunter.

What's he going to do next?
Right now we are 11th in the conference, 2 points out of the playoffs and 7 points behind Florida in the Southeast division. This is the lowest we have been in the standings this late in a season since Boudreau's first year. George McPhee must be sweating in his office, because his job is on the line even more so than Dale Hunter's.
But maybe this is what is needed for McPhee. Maybe he needs to be pushed to the brink in order for him to take the steps necessary to right the ship. Just maybe he'll trade Semin and Schultz away for a veteran, or a rising star with speed like Zach Parise.

Again, I have to reiterate that I know it's only mid December, but at some point everyone is looking for a lightning bolt to hit this team and zap it back to dominance. We're all waiting for something, that's for sure.

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