May 3, 2011, 1:17 PM EDT
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.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT
The Islanders won 3-1 in Game 6.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
No penalty on the play.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
He made his postseason debut in Game 4.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:03 PM EDT
Plenty of life on Long Island.
Apr 25, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT
Apr 25, 2015, 5:20 PM EDT
Keep this bounce in mind in the third period.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT
He’s been ruled out of the series due to a rib injury.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT
Carlson has his first of the playoffs.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
Kudos to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and the Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Illinois.
Apr 25, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
He’ll backup for a fourth straight game.
Apr 25, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
New York, Nashville and Vancouver are all facing elimination today.
Apr 25, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
Both were in their first season with the hockey club.
Apr 25, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
He helped Russia win gold last year.
Apr 25, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT
Happened on Wednesday in Vancouver.
Apr 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Bickell and Versteeg swap spots.
Apr 25, 2015, 12:25 PM EDT
“Thought it was a typo.”
Apr 25, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
He declined an invite to the Worlds because of the injury.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
He announced his retirement from international competition nearly a year ago.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Canucks , Preds and Islanders look to avoid elimination.
Apr 25, 2015, 12:28 AM EDT
St. Louis couldn’t capitalize on an early lead.
- Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7 20
- Everything happens: Ovechkin nails Tavares, Isles score 17
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 6
- Lucic issues statement on father’s passing 9
- Hall caught off guard by Oilers’ front office shuffle 17
- Wild’s Dubnyk shakes off six-goal night, saves 36 as Blues pushed to brink 33
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 5
- Malkin: ‘I want to say sorry to fans, to my teammates’ 57
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime 106
- Sens’ Anderson continues to haunt Habs, forces Game 6 12
- Of course they did: Oilers win 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, will select first overall (174)
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (106)
- Eichel understands Murray’s disappointment, but ‘extreme competitor’ has ‘a lot to offer’ (98)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (91)