May 12, 2012, 10:35 PM EST
The Washington Capitals’ 2011-12 season is hockey’s answer to the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
If you compare their ultimate results to the expectations they carried into the season, then one could argue that losing 2-1 to the No. 1 seed New York Rangers in a tight seven-game series still remains a disappointment. Context changes matters, however, as the Capitals pleased many who wanted them to play a more conventional, defensive-minded style after years of being hockey’s answer to “The Greatest Show on Turf” era St. Louis Rams.
Ultimately, the takeaway is very much a subjective thing, but the most rigid, bottom-line result is that the Alex Ovechkin Capitals still haven’t played a single conference finals match.
The Capitals bounced back from some big challenges, yet they ultimately ran out of rebound opportunities once Game 7 rolled around. Washington shook of a triple-OT loss and perhaps an even more brutal last-second OT loss in Game 5 to push the series to the limit, but the Capitals couldn’t beat the Rangers at their own game in the end.
Who takes the blame?
Assuming that you’re on board with Dale Hunter’s decision to convert the Capitals roster to a defense-first-second-and-last machine, Alexander Semin is the easy target as usual. He had a -2 rating in Game 7 (representing both Rangers goals, whether they were his fault or not) and only had one assist in the entire series. In fact, he sandwiched that assist between two four-game pointless streaks, so it’s unlikely that the pending free agent made himself much money in the playoffs.
Plus, he’s Alexander Semin – his middle name might as well be “scapegoat.”
What will they do about it?
That’s where things can get very interesting.
First things first, it’s no guarantee that Dale Hunter will return as head coach – and it might be his choice, which is pretty unusual in this profession. If he wants to come back, Capitals GM George McPhee needs to determine that he really wants to go in the direction Hunter took them.
If his answer is “Yes,” the Capitals can clean house to a staggering degree. Go-to scapegoats such as Semin, Mike Green and Dennis Wideman headline the list of guys whose futures are foggy. Meanwhile, it seems likely that Tomas Vokoun and Mike Knuble won’t be back while John Carlson‘s restricted free agent negotiations should be interesting to watch.
Vokoun brings things to an interesting third factor (beyond coaching and free agent yes-or-nos) for the Caps: should they go after a veteran goalie? Braden Holtby had a fantastic playoff run but hasn’t ever carried an NHL workload. Meanwhile, Michal Neuvirth has been solid-but-unspectacular on the NHL level.
If the orders are to go all-defense all-the-time, then they might just want to invest in a goalie with a heftier resume.
That’s the interesting thing about the Cap; beyond Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom‘s lengthy contracts, McPhee has an intriguing opportunity to make sweeping changes. So let’s leave that to you, then: what would you do with this odd but still seemingly promising group?
Nov 29, 2014, 12:58 AM EST
Buffalo scored the game-winner during the ensuing power play.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:59 PM EST
Alex Pietrangelo had 10 shots on goal, which was almost as much as Edmonton.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:37 PM EST
Ottawa has a rough schedule ahead of it.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:07 PM EST
The Red Wings have now won three straight contests.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:42 PM EST
Hope seems like a distant memory.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:11 PM EST
They’ve moved past their disappointing 2013-14 campaign.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:48 PM EST
Pittsburgh has been dominant outside of its division.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:16 PM EST
Not his finest moment.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
He’s also approaching fifth place on the points leaderboard.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:02 PM EST
You don’t see many goals that look like this.
Nov 28, 2014, 7:27 PM EST
That’s on top of Johnny Boychuk’s injury.
Nov 28, 2014, 6:58 PM EST
“We just didn’t execute tonight.”
Nov 28, 2014, 6:10 PM EST
The Blackhawks defenseman was able to stay in the game.
Nov 28, 2014, 5:18 PM EST
He was quite composed when he said it, for the record.
Nov 28, 2014, 5:03 PM EST
Anaheim forward didn’t take another shift for the remainder of the opening frame.
Nov 28, 2014, 4:54 PM EST
Veteran d-man wasn’t playing much for Tampa Bay.
Nov 28, 2014, 4:15 PM EST
Oilers looked better last night in Nashville.
Nov 28, 2014, 4:04 PM EST
Cam Talbot shuts the door again, Blueshirts win 3-0.
Nov 28, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
“Just that idea destroys the whole credibility of an organization.”
Nov 28, 2014, 3:41 PM EST
Even after Semyon Varlamov returns from injury.
- Miller’s second straight shutout puts Canucks in NHL lead 15
- Video: Ennis fires behind his back while falling, scores 3
- Video: Hjalmarsson crushes Kesler, Lindholm scores in wild sequence (Updated) 6
- Trade: Ducks get Brewer from Lightning; Beauchemin out 4-6 weeks 2
- Thanksgiving Shutdown: Rangers blank listless Flyers for second time this season 25
- Video: Martin St. Louis scores goal for 1,000th point 2
- Actual video proof that Brodeur is practicing with the Blues 5
- Return of the Mac: Rangers captain McDonagh in today vs. Flyers 3
- NHL on NBC: Rangers vs. Flyers in a Thanksgiving Showdown 2
- Garbutt suspended two games for ‘reckless’ knee-on-knee hit 1
- Video: Milan Lucic calls Dalton Prout one-punch ‘gutless’ (101)
- Bruins’ Lucic expected to play against Habs after getting one-punched (Updated) (47)
- Report: Perron’s name comes up as Oilers seek trade for ‘top center’ (45)
- Video: Bruins see two goals waved off (44)
- Isles make some history; Are the Flyers headed for trouble? (43)