May 3, 2011, 1:17 PM EST
From the moment Bruce Boudreau took over the Capitals they were a team that exemplified the excitement that NHL hockey could be all about. They were free wheeling, run-and-gun hockey and with Alex Ovechkin leading the way and scoring upwards of 50 goals per season, that brand of hockey reinvigorated Washington, D.C. The Caps were winning games, winning big, and winning in a way that drove the fans wild.
After seasons of coming up short in the playoffs and fans eager for the team to go deep but the Caps seeming unable to get over the hump in the postseason playing firewagon hockey, coach Bruce Boudreau made a change this season to switch things up to a more defensively responsible approach. Now with the Caps down 2-0 heading into Tampa Bay for Game 3, some are wondering what good it was for the team to make a change up like that only to end up with the same results.
With Boudreau’s tactical abilities being put under the microscope with the team being in such a hole, John Keeley of On Frozen Blog points out the area of the Capitals’ game that’s their undoing so far in these playoffs.
Behind the bench, there is the obvious subplot related to Bruce Boudreau. All seemed reasonably well for Gabby a week ago, but when his club was gifted a lengthy break with which to rest and repair, they came out of it unable to meet the underdog’s challenge. That story is growing old here. Boudreau’s beaten an under-manned John Tortorella set of Ranger clubs twice in the postseason over the course of four springs . . . and no one else. Losing to the rookie, Guy Boucher? At some point (potentially soon) Capitals’ fans are going to ask: where is our Bylsma, our Tortorella, our Babcock, our . . . Boucher?
The team’s power play futility is a flashpoint in this discussion of tactical leadership. Its cumulative results last postseason and this are beyond nightmarish and nauseating: four for sixty. That’s four goals . . . in 60 opportunities. Tampa would bank in 9 or 10 off our dmen with 60 extra man opportunities. The power play personnel is a mish-mash of a mess, their attack ethos uncertain. Confusion and hesitancy reign supreme. The team had all of last week to work on it and get it fixed. Instead, it’s regressed. The head coach has to get it fixed, pronto. The Capitals will either achieve a competent power play this series or they will lose it. Tampa took out the Pens by achieving a glaring special teams discrepancy.
The Caps’ inability to generate anything on the power play isn’t on the same level of failure as the Bruins, but they’re setting the bar lower and lower with each game. These Caps could use a boost and a change in strategy on the man advantage. They could also stand to see some other players standing out and playing to their potential.
One such guy is Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom was a sensation last year, but with the Caps transition to more defensive hockey he’s looked lost this season and he’s disappeared completely in the playoffs. Through seven playoff games, Backstrom has zero goals and just two assists. It’s not that he’s been bad, he’s been non-existent and a non-threat both against the Rangers and more so against the Lightning.
The focus on offense is always going to be on Ovechkin regardless of what happens. He’s the captain and that’s all part of the territory, but he’s got to get help elsewhere on the ice. Mike Knuble‘s rapid return to action was a boost but they need their top playmaking center to play to the best of his abilities and he’s not doing that. If the Caps don’t get it figured out tonight, they’re staring a summer of hard questions right in the face and there’s a lot of answers that won’t be readily available. After all, if they’re not winning it all when their offense is given free will to do as they please and they’re not winning when they’re buckling things down defensively as a playoff team is supposed to, then what’s next? Those answers could end up pretty grim.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:15 AM EST
Shattenkirk had the shootout winner.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:35 PM EST
He’s now tied with Dino Ciccarelli on the all-time points list.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:00 PM EST
Kris Letang has assisted on Pittsburgh’s last seven goals.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Mark Hunter has also been a rumored replacement.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
He’s a restricted free agent after this season.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:45 PM EST
The 18-year-old is playing in his 3rd career AHL game tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Was 6-0-0 in his previous seven appearances entering tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 7:05 PM EST
It could happen at the World Cup though.
Jan 30, 2015, 5:16 PM EST
“We would be thrilled to have them play at our venue.”
Jan 30, 2015, 4:24 PM EST
Ville Pokka is a fun name.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:57 PM EST
Spent last season in Buffalo.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:37 PM EST
Oklahoma City and Worcester do not.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:26 PM EST
Key Western Conference tilt tonight at Honda.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Not that that’s likely. Just…possible.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:17 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EST
Xavier Ouellet sticking around?
Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST
Pittsburgh d-man won’t play tonight against New Jersey.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:39 PM EST
They play in Vancouver tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:42 AM EST
Ducks and Rangers have been hot.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:37 AM EST
Just one day after Artem Anisimov drew back into the lineup.
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