Rabbit rabbit, y’all — happy Friday and happy October to all you Caps fans.
Games keep coming off the board and the playoff dreams haven’t died just quite yet. Buckle up for a big month that will likely decide what mid-November will be looking like in Vancouver.
Wednesday’s match was, erm, something that happened. It was the first time in which Vanni Sartini had his squad play for anything less than a win and as I said on Twitter, I get it but don’t fully agree.
Yeah, a lot of things were going against the Caps — travel, a lack of healthy centerbacks (how is that Derek Cornelius loan looking now ... ), the fact that Ryan Gauld has played a billion minutes without a rest. But Houston is the most beatable team the Caps are going to see for awhile and while a point will feel a lot sweeter if the Caps win on Saturday, it shaves even more off a narrow margin for error.
Beyond that, there aren’t many more takeaways we can glean from the midweek beyond we copying and pasting my ode to Max Crepeau from Monday because it was another match where their number 1 was truly spectacular. Borjan is tough to argue with but it is hard to imagine a universe in which Crepeau hasn’t played his way back into the starting role for Canada and it will be totally deserved — he has been quite literally the best keeper in the league in the last month or two.
Maxime Crepeau is almost saving half a goal above expected every single game since the start of August. He is the best keeper in the league with at least 250 minutes in that time. #VWFC pic.twitter.com/B4b3sScmZz— Caleb Wilkins (@wilkins_caleb24) September 30, 2021
Some credit also is deserved for Andy Rose and Florian Jungwirth, both of whom put in very good shifts to help stabilize a backline held together with chewing gum and baling wire. Jake Nerwinski also has looked decent as the right center back in a back 3, potentially increasing his value as the team looks at pruning off any spare parts in the offseason.
Really, however, Wednesday’s match showed that the Caps might have the starting XI of a playoff team but the bench leaves a lot (a lot) to be desired. It will, one imagines, be a major point of emphasis in the offseason and while Pedro Vite will help things considerably, he won’t be enough on his own.
You can argue Sartini should have started a bit stronger a roster (and not played Michael Baldisimo as a centerback, oof) but this team would have had to pay the piper for some of its structural issues eventually. This type of rotated team probably would have lost under Marc Dos Santos — the fact they got a point is, in many respects, nothing short of amazing (and down to Houston’s truly impressive lack of finishing).
Results went the Caps’ way in the midweek (and with LA Galaxy plummeting towards the playoff line, there might be more spots up for grabs than we initially thought). A win over San Jose and we can all head into the international break with the confidence of Max Crepeau.
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