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Jaroslav Halak, Montreal shocks Washington in Game 7

Apr 28, 2010, 10:30 PM EDT

halak2.jpgThis 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?

  1. Pete - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    Can someone explain to me why the disallowed goal for the Caps didn’t get reviewed ?? The Caps was cheated by the Ref !!! the League should look into this more closely ???

  2. TK - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    @ Pete
    Waaaaaaaa!!!!!
    (Chuckle, chuckle)

  3. MNMINVA - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    This series loss is on the Capitals coach. He quickly forgot which goalie won him the President’s Trophy. He stated earily in the playoffs that it would take both goalies to win the cup, but once he pulled Theo in game two, never gave him another chance. At game five, the Canadians figured out that you shoot Varly high, from his left to his right. All seven goals from game five on where scored on him this way and led to earily leads that, with a very good Halak, they could not overcome. Bruce’s record in game seven’s (all at home) is now 1-3. After two years of playoff disappointment, maybe it’s time to take another look.

  4. Pat - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    @Pete
    I thought the disallowed goal WAS reviewed.

  5. SIDtheKiD - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    learn to spell. earily. theres not one guy to blame. its the team’s effort. a coach doesn’t get up 3-1 only to lose 3 in a row.

  6. Colin - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    From NHL Rule book:
    Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease.
    The Capitals player did not allow Halak the room to position to make the save. Doubly so when he initiated contact. Perfect call by the referee.

  7. MNMINVA - Apr 28, 2010 at 11:57 PM

    Learn how to put capital letters in front of your sentances (I’m sorry, I forgot where you’re from). I can’t wait to watch them beat you too. Maybe Cooke will be called for his many dirty plays and Sid will be hit like any onther player in the league.

  8. MININVA - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:02 AM

    Learn to put capital letters to start your sentances (I’m sorry, I forgot where you’re from). The coach should make adjustments when a team can’t win three straight games. He didn’t and the team suffered.

  9. MININVA - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:05 AM

    Learn to put capital letters to start your sentances (I’m sorry, I forgot where you’re from). The coach should make adjustments when a team can’t win three straight games. He didn’t and the team suffered.

  10. Pat The Rock - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    OV’s is now officialy confirm #2 behind Crosby.
    He doesn’t have the drive and the leadership to bring is team to the Stanley Cup or to a gold medal.
    He’s now tag with an L…..

  11. therock - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    They won the series 3-2? You sure about that??

  12. CoastRaven - Apr 29, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    “Montreal Canadiens 2, Washington Capitals 1
    Canadiens win the series 3-2
    No doubt about it, Halak was the No. 1 factor.”
    someone please check my math – how can you play game seven of a series and win 3 games to 2??

  13. Bob S. - Apr 29, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    Each of the 4 playoff series under Boudreau have now gone to 7 games, and the Capitals are 1-3. In the last 25 years, the Capitals have blown a 2 game lead in a playoff series 7 times. All 7 times, they finished in a total tailspin, losing either their last 3 or 4 straight games. This time against Montreal, they became the first #1 seed to blow a 3-1 series lead to a #8 seed.

  14. Bob S. - Apr 29, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    They also disallowed a Montreal goal for the same reason. Bothering the goaltender in the crease. Deja vu for les Canadiens who met the great Bruins in the first round in 1971, the Bruins like the Capitals had scored over 100 goals more than the Habs during the year and also had finished with exactly 121 points just like Capitals did and led the Habs 3-2 after 5 games of the series. That was the greatest Bruins team ever(Orr, Esposito, Hodge, etc.), the Habs had missed the playoffs the year before. No one gave Montreal a chance in that series either. Habs called up a rookie goalie from Cornell and somehow came back and beat Boston and went to win the Stanley Cup. A guy named Ken Dryden was the little known goalie they had brought up.

  15. Me - Apr 29, 2010 at 6:14 AM

    LET’S ALL CHECK BACK INTO GRAMMER SCHOOL AND LEARN HOW TO SPELL THE WORD SENTENCE PEOPLE…… lol………
    Learn how to put capital letters in front of your SENTANCES (I’m sorry, I forgot where you’re from). I can’t wait to watch them beat you too. Maybe Cooke will be called for his many dirty plays and Sid will be hit like any onther player in the league.

  16. Anna - Apr 29, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    @Pete- The goal was not reviewed because the call by the on ice official of interference is not reviewable. The video goal judge can only make calls as to whether the puck went into the net, and whether it went in off a high stick, a distinct kicking motion of a hand pass.

  17. Mark199 - Apr 29, 2010 at 7:36 AM

    Can someone tell me, does the ‘C’ on Ovechkin’s jersey stand for consistent, captain or choke. Or maybe it’s all 3 together-consistent captain of choking. Keep trash talking, Alex-it seems to have worked out for you in the olympics and these 2010 playoffs, again!! The only shaking I spotted of Halak was him shaking the hands of the losing team. Enjoy your extended summer Cap fans and enjoy that Presidents’ trophy.

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  19. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    No.. It was not being reviewed at all !!!

  20. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    As Mike Knuble put it, this was going on all season without being called !!! I have seen other goals not being called in the regular season !! I think the Caps are robbed by the ref on this one!!

  21. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    No, If you watched the replays on both occasions, it’s not the same, in the Montreal case, Valie was clearly interfered and got pushed into the net !!!

  22. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    I agreed with you 100%,I have made a comment yesterday that in order for the Caps to win game 7, Biudreau has to put Theo in the net, but it didn’t happen and that was the result.. also I’ve watched Green played for a long time now, although he is no question a very good player, but he took too many chances at the wrong time and committed unnessary penalties, both goals last night were caused by his mistakes .. Did anyone notice that ??????

  23. SOB - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Ovechkin worked harder than anyone else on that team during the game. Neither he nor his coach are to blame. Mike Green and Alexander Semin were miserable failures and just for the record I do think Theo should have been reinserted in Game 5.

  24. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    There was interference, check the rule…Lapierre goal was also disallowed when he was push by the defensman into the goalie, this one should have been allowed.

  25. Anonymous - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    While the disallowed goal was borderline – these caps fans need to remember that they blew three games to lose this series. This one goal call was not the deciding factor.
    Typical of the caps and their fans – look for anyone but themselves to blame.

  26. Bob - Apr 29, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    The telling statistic was the Caps very poor power play production.

  27. hcgjkjlcgj - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:31 AM

    goalie interference is not reviewable as per the rule book
    and knuble clearly made contact with the goalie in the crease
    no garbage goals allowed in a game 7

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