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 6, 2013, 9:57 AM EST
Captain John Tavares says they’re not earning wins, but the veteran goalie has a different theory.
Dec 6, 2013, 8:59 AM EST
He led New York to a 3-1 victory over Buffalo.
Dec 6, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
Friday’s collection of links.
Dec 6, 2013, 3:00 AM EST
No timetable for return.
Dec 6, 2013, 2:15 AM EST
Patrick Roy should know how this feels.
Dec 6, 2013, 1:35 AM EST
Bottom of the Metropolitan Division.
Dec 6, 2013, 1:02 AM EST
Triumph in the face of adversity.
Dec 6, 2013, 12:42 AM EST
Bad night for Colorado.
Dec 6, 2013, 12:14 AM EST
Still trying to find consistency.
Dec 5, 2013, 11:48 PM EST
Right to the point.
Dec 5, 2013, 11:25 PM EST
Pacioretty says he feels ‘awful’ for Boychuk incident.
Dec 5, 2013, 11:01 PM EST
Expectation is that he’ll be OK.
Dec 5, 2013, 10:35 PM EST
They can thank their goalie for two points.
Dec 5, 2013, 10:14 PM EST
Tough night for defensemen across NHL.
Dec 5, 2013, 9:50 PM EST
Pascal Dupuis had only two shifts in second period before leaving the game.
Dec 5, 2013, 9:25 PM EST
Tampa Bay already has a full sickbay.
Dec 5, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
He won’t return tonight.
Dec 5, 2013, 8:29 PM EST
He ranks second on the team in shorthanded minutes.
Dec 5, 2013, 7:57 PM EST
Marek Mazanec has done a fine job in his absence.
Dec 5, 2013, 7:22 PM EST
Their reinforcements are at very different stages in their careers.
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) 48
- Seguin (concussion) cleared to play tonight 0
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ 87
- Will the Rangers use a compliance buyout on Richards? 9
- Malkin (lower body) to miss tonight’s game versus Sharks 20
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ 59
- Columbus puts Bobrovsky (groin) on IR, out 4-5 weeks 3
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Olympic odds, Russia’s defense, King Henrik’s new deal, Fire Cappy? and more 28
- With Lundqvist deal done, Sather faces tough questions 11
- King of New York: Rangers sign Lundqvist to seven-year, $59.5 million extension 42
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ (87)
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ (59)
- Lehtonen shines, Roussel agitates as Stars beat ‘Hawks (53)
- Video: Canucks’ Bieksa fights Rangers’ Boyle, then kicks Boyle’s helmet (52)
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) (51)