May 12, 2012, 10:35 PM EDT
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?
Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002
Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?
Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.
Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT
It’s another arbitration win for Ottawa.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Pondering a rebuilding process that took a leap.
Aug 3, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT
Perhaps you can broaden this to “keeping the puck out of their net.”
Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
The league estimates such a process could cost about $13.5 million.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT
In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?
Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.
Aug 3, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT
Ron DeGregorio rounded out the group.
Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The worst should be behind them.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Is his poor Game 7 record reflective of anything?
Aug 2, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
In other words, how much longer will Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler stay at the top of their game?
Aug 2, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
His newly signed two-year deal is an opportunity for
Aug 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
He’s got the size and skill to potentially make an impact.
Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.
Aug 2, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Will all of them play in 2015-16?
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- Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal 26
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 62
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 71
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 12
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 41
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (71)
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? (62)
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening (54)
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs (45)
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting (44)