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.
Dec 29, 2014, 12:40 AM EST
GM and interim bench boss Lou Lamoriello’s making it up as he goes along.
Dec 29, 2014, 12:09 AM EST
“I don’t even know anymore.”
Dec 28, 2014, 11:12 PM EST
Literally, in the case of Cam Fowler’s game-winning goal.
Dec 28, 2014, 10:03 PM EST
Winnipeg recalled Patrice Cormier in case the power forward can’t play.
Dec 28, 2014, 8:57 PM EST
Head coach Claude Julien has some choice words for his team.
Dec 28, 2014, 8:09 PM EST
Florida’s breathing down Toronto’s neck in the East standings.
Dec 28, 2014, 7:05 PM EST
There are some concussion concerns.
Dec 28, 2014, 6:25 PM EST
Reto Berra might not see much action going forward.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Has been out of St. Louis’ lineup since Nov. 25.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Playing for the first time since Nov. 4
Dec 28, 2014, 4:15 PM EST
Has missed three games with an upper body injury.
Dec 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
The forward will miss a few weeks with a lower body injury.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:45 PM EST
Recalled goaltender Christopher Gibson from AHL.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Kevin Poulin returned to Bridgeport.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Has missed the first 35 games of the season.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Boston’s Matt Fraser also on the waiver wire.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Anton Forsberg reassigned to Springfield.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
Rasmus Ristolainen is sick.
Dec 28, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
The Dallas forward has been suspended three times in two seasons.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Expected to serve as an extra defenseman as the Canucks visit the Ducks.
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