As has become clear, the D.C. sports world is wondering how much they should be concerned about the Washington Capitals' relative struggles in 2010/11. Are they doomed for the NHL Playoffs, or is this just a way to build up the adversity quotient that they didn't have last season?
If you ask owner Ted Leonsis, the answer is the latter. Well, clearly, it is, because we all know he's as passionate and upbeat as they come. But in the process, Leonsis used an interesting phrase to describe the Capitals' current situation. In an interview on The Mike Wise Show on 106.7 The Fan, Leonsis had this to say (via Dan Steinberg):
"I think our guys may be unconsciously pacing themselves a little bit, I do. I think that."
The natural reaction here is to get worried about that attitude being prevalent among the players. Indeed, Steinberg suggests exactly that:
"Unconsciously pacing themselves" is certainly one explanation I haven't heard very frequently, nor do I imagine it's one that Bruce Boudreau would take kindly to.
But at the same time, isn't it kind of understandable? Think about it for a second. During the entire summer, everyone in the Capitals' organization listened to their fans proclaim that nothing the team was going to do from October to March really mattered that much. Been there, done that, they said. All that mattered is advancing in the playoffs. If it had to happen with some bumps in the road, all the better, because adversity is a good teacher.
Under these circumstances, can you blame the players for pacing themselves a bit? Focus may seem like an unlimited resource, but it isn't for many people. Sometimes, they need to set priorities so that they have enough gas left in the tank to perform when it matters most. There's obviously a risk involved here, in that a player can find that he can't flip on the switch, but the Capitals tried the opposite approach last year and failed. Why not try to do things differently?