Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another Heartbreaking Early Exit for the Washington Capitals

It's happened again. This team, loaded with more talent than it knows what to do with, got run out of the second round of the playoffs, quicker than this hockey mom can bandage a boo boo. Speaking of boo boos, everyone in Caps nation is feeling that old, sinking feeling in their hearts today after another stunning exit. The boys simply did not show up - especially those "young guns" - who get paid the big bucks to do just that.

Stanley Cups are won by a combination of talent, luck, team work, work ethic and probably most important of all - heart. The Lightning had much less offensive talent (and were missing a big key in the cog with the injury of Simon Gagne) but their heart and soul guys Sean Bergenheim and the pesty Steve Downie came up big when it mattered. Guy Boucher totally outcoached the affable Gabby and the Bolt's stars Lecavalier, Stamkos and St. Louis were game killers. So after a second season of finishing number one in the East and not getting to Conference Finals, what to do?  Here are some of my thoughts (just a thought, not a sermon folks):

  • Unfortunately, I think Bruce Boudreau's stint as bench boss should come to an end. They need a hardass in there who scoffs at the mere thought of an "optional" skate. Yes, Gabby was successful in transitioning the game plan to a more defensive style of play, but he apparently lost their attention as that plan went out the window in the Tampa series.
  • Alex Semin too - he's proved time and time again that he is ineffective in  post-season play.
  • Young guns: No more pictures of you partying all over D.C. during the season- agree wholeheartedly with PucksandBooks of On Frozen Blog who touched on this earlier- if you're seen out the night before a game, bag skate.
    Yes, Sidney Crosby might be a total nerd who stays home with his milk and cookies but in the playoffs (when he's healthy and all hockey fans hope that is soon), he schools opponents. Plain and simple.
  • On aforementioned note, more bag skates in general.
  • Ovi should not be the captain. I said it when they gave him the 'C' and say it again. Just because he is one of the most elite talents in the world, does not mean he is the guy to hold fellow players accountable for not stepping up. I hope that in the aftermath of yet another post-season undoing, the team can manage to hold onto Jason Arnott - who would be the perfect guy to wear the "C", or Mike Knuble.
Here are some other thoughts on the aftermath  from some of the Caps most recognized scribes: Tarik El Bashir, Stephen Whyno, Homer McFanboy  and of course, the boss himself.

I'm sure you're with me when I say I'm pretty tired of hearing "wait til next year".....

    1 comment:

    Jeff S said...

    From an outsider perspective, I'm not sure how much you dismantle this team. Naturally, the cap is going to dictate who eventually stays but the core is really not far off. I agree that OV shouldn't be the captain and felt that from day 1 as well. It's going to be difficult to drop Semin with the way he disappears in the playoffs and his unwillingness to sign long term deals. I have a hard time seeing them keep Arnott as his price tag is just too high.

    Personally, I'd take aim at a true #1 goaltender ... make Mike Green a winger ... grab a solid stay at home blue liner and re-sign as many guys as I could from the current team. I'd take away the C from OV for sure ... but I wouldn't fire Boudreau. I'd give him one more season to at least get to the cup finals. Give him one more full season where the players have a chance to play this "new" system he installed.

    The off-season is going to be very interesting.