Record: 18-8-2, 28 points
Last Two Weeks: 4-3
Place: Three-way Tie for the top of the East
The Caps are on top of the East, have just acquired a big piece of what’s missing in their arsenal, and are continuing to dominate many games. So why is this columnist a little bit down on the Caps? It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I think Dan Rowinski had something yesterday when he said that this was an erratic team with equally erratic coaching.
While early in the season, you can cope with some shakedown play, there’s a point at which you have to settle into your rhythms and start to push past the awkward stage. The Caps have yet to do that, and their losses to Dallas and Atlanta this week were indicative of a failure to play rough-and-tumble hockey up in front of the net. Here’s hoping they’ll be able to push past looking for the finesse goals and into the hard-charging hair-on-fire hockey we’re used to seeing.
The Caps have a mini-homestand this week, facing Toronto, Florida and Colorado. The storylines: Neither Toronto or Florida are very good, and the Caps should shred them like a wet paper sack. If you were looking for some high-scoring affairs to get your hockey fix, get tickets to this one. (Yes, you can still get tickets to Caps games despite the sellout streak.) And Colorado comes to town, which means we see Tomas Fleischmann for the first time since the trade. Good drama in Hockeyland. See you at the Phone Booth.
Last Two Weeks: 2-5
Place: Fifth in the Southeast
That’s the current Wizards road record. It’s appalling. Only the LA Clippers have played the season without a road win (also 0-10 on the road.) While we can’t expect for the Wiz to lose ALL their road games, it’s a nasty streak that has really put a damper on the team when they aren’t in the Phone Booth. There has also been some winnable match-ups on the road so far. Sure we can’t expect the team to really beat out The Heat and The Magic, last Wednesday’s defeat to Toronto is a new low.
John Wall has made a return to the starting line-up but has been slow coming out of the gate. In Wall’s absence Gilbert Arenas has put up solid totals in the points column and has also made the headlines as trade rumors once again flare up. Off the bench Nick Young ended November hot, scoring no less than 13 points in his last five games that month.
Up Ahead: Tuesday at LA Lakers, Wednesday at Sacramento, Friday vs. NY Knicks, Tuesday vs. LA.
Last Two Weeks: 0-2
Place: Third in the NFC East
What little chance the Skins had of making the playoffs has died in the last two disastrous weeks of play. Sunday’s dismantling by the Giants made the hapless Redskins appear to be a junior college team with a lot to learn about how to play the game of Football. With Albert Haynesworth once again inactive, rumored to be related to a conflict with defensive coordinator Haslett, the Skins were once again the laughing stock of the league over player relations problems.
The problems, though, have more to do with weak protection for Donovan McNabb, and a bit of a disconnect between center Casey Rabach and the QB. Rabach and McNabb have yet to look seamless in a game, and the number of times that McNabb came back on a stutterstep or had a missed snap were easily apparent. If the Redskins want their investment in McNabb to pay off, they’re going to have to boost his protection and give him some time to move the ball.
One thing that’s working, though, is McNabb, deep to Armstrong. The 27-year-old Wideout has been a consistent deep target for McNabb, and he seems to always come up with the ball. While Cooley has stayed a medium-range target (and one having trouble beating defenders), Armstrong has been McNabb’s pocket ace. Look for this kid to go place.
The question at this point is whether the Skins can cobble up a win in their last four games. They’ll play Tampa at home this week, and I think they’re out of luck there. Then they head to Dallas to face the recovering Cowboys, and I have to say, if the Cowboys play like they did against the Colts, the Skins are toast. That leaves Jacksonville and New York for a final shot at a win. We’ll see, but 6-10 is my guess for an ending record.