Apr 28, 2010, 10:30 PM EDT
This is one of those games (and series) where you look for someone to blame. Was it as simple as “The Capitals couldn’t solve Jaroslav Halak?” Maybe you point to their “lack of experience” or question their intestinal fortitude? To be honest, I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that the world-beating Washington Capitals are first round losers to what was supposed to be a lowly Montreal Canadiens team.
Montreal Canadiens 2, Washington Capitals 1
Canadiens win the series 4-3
No doubt about it, Halak was the No. 1 factor. The Slovakian-born goalie stands to make himself bushels of bucks as a restricted free agent, standing on his head once again. There was quite a bit made of Alex Ovechkin’s comments about Halak’s “hand shaking” during Game 2 of the series, but the Capitals were ultimately the ones shaking their heads as he turned away shot after shot. Just soak in these totals from his last three games: three wins, 131 saves and only three goals allowed. Forgive hockey fans around the globe for spouting phrases marinated in hyperbole, because those are genuinely legendary numbers under extreme pressure.
Regardless of Halak’s genius, the Capitals must be disappointed in their performance. As much as they peppered Halak with shots, they didn’t do enough to score “the playoff way.” That way is by getting dirty: scoring off rebounds, deflections and ugly screens. Most playoff goals won’t get you on Sportscenter, but they might make you a winner.
This sets up a bizarre scenario in which all but one “underdog” won in the East. The new top seed – defending champion Pittsburgh – failed to win their division this season. They’ll host the Canadiens while the sixth-ranked Boston Bruins have home ice against the Philadelphia Flyers. So much for all of our “race to lose to the top seeds” jokes.
What’s next in Washington? That ought to be an interesting situation to watch, for sure. Some people were calling for coach Bruce Boudreau’s head, but that is difficult for me to imagine. I wrote that the Capitals are actually in a great salary cap situation going into the summer, so if they want to revamp their roster they certainly have the room to do so. Right now, though, these players, coaches and executives probably just want to bury their heads in the sand.
Is it hasty to wonder if there’s a President’s Trophy curse after the top seed stumbled in the first round in two straight years?
- Playoffs Tonight: Kings look for ‘killer instinct’ against Sharks 9
- Brother says Patrick Roy will be Avs’ head coach 21
- Video: Controversy colors Blackhawks goal, disallowed score 56
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago 88
- Video: Viktor Stalberg returns after head-first sprawl into boards 2
- Brown, Toews, Alfredsson up for Messier Leadership Award 9
- Playoffs Tonight: Blackhawks look to ‘ramp up our intensity’ vs Red Wings 13
- Report: Patrick Roy a candidate for Avalanche head coaching job 9
- Senators’ OT hero Greening had fiberglass pieces removed from face 4
- Discuss: Senators win Game 3 in double overtime 36
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago (88)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (80)
- McPhee says lack of power plays ‘didn’t feel right’; Torts says Washington is ‘whining’ (70)
- Penner blasts refs for having ‘gall to guess’ on goalie interference call (64)
- Live Extra: Watch Bruins-Rangers, Game 3
- Durant pledges $1 million for tornado victims
- GTC: Garcia offers Tiger 'fried chicken' for dinner
- Golden Super Bowl to Bay Area; LI to Houston
- PBT: Grizzlies aim to stem Spurs' momentum
- CSN: Tiger admits he and Sergio don't get along
- HBT: Yankees buying share of expansion MLS team
- Play Video: Time to play Pucktionary
- Play Video: Roenick not happy with call against Blackhawks in Game 3
- Play Video: Must-win Game 3 at MSG
- Play Video: Highlights: Red Wings top Blackhawks in Game 3
- Play Video: Cleary: 'We won't be exchanging Christmas cards'
- Play Video: 'Hawks potential tying goal waved off