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?
May 22, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT
No word on who’ll draw in as a replacement.
May 22, 2015, 11:40 AM EDT
No word yet if he’ll be able to play right away.
May 22, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
We really need to get these combos better nicknames, though.
May 22, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT
The Rangers need The King to play like one tonight.
May 22, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT
He also reiterates that the salary cap will be about $71M.
May 22, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Almost always a good way to go.
May 22, 2015, 8:31 AM EDT
May 22, 2015, 1:30 AM EDT
Ducks trying to make life miserable for Chicago’s goalie.
May 22, 2015, 1:00 AM EDT
Game 4 goes Saturday in Chicago.
May 22, 2015, 12:12 AM EDT
So, what will the coach do for Game 4?
May 21, 2015, 11:17 PM EDT
Chicago’s power play came up empty.
May 21, 2015, 10:36 PM EDT
Talk about timing.
May 21, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT
Quite a sequence.
May 21, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
‘Showtime’ strikes late in the period.
May 21, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
Coach Q, shaking it up.
May 21, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
Pittsburgh GM won’t stand in the way.
May 21, 2015, 6:58 PM EDT
Hit knocked the veteran d-man out of Game 3.
May 21, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
“To have a guy of his ilk, considered one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League, taking a real good hard look at us in Buffalo after a 30th-place finish — I thought the process was great.”
May 21, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
Two-way contract for Karpat’s playoff scoring sensation.
May 21, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
A wide range of topics.
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- Quenneville opted for ‘fresh legs’ by inserting Nordstrom, Versteeg into lineup 9
- Video: Ducks hold off Blackhawks in Game 3 to take series lead 27
- (Video) PHT Extra: On Babcock, sticking to the process and housebuilding analogies 3
- Babcock predicts ‘pain’ for Leafs, who are a ‘massive, massive challenge’ 38
- Babcock wants to ‘put Canada’s team back on the map’ 46
- Flyers won’t trade Del Zotto, but ‘something will have to give’ on crowded blue line 21
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? 70
- It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet 34
- Brodeur signs three-year deal to be Blues’ assistant GM 12
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (172)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (90)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)