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?
Apr 20, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT
The Bruins are one of the most effective teams in the league with the man advantage.
Apr 20, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
He was pulled late in Friday’s game.
Apr 20, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
The contest will start at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Apr 20, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
He has seven points in his first two playoff games.
Apr 20, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
With a two-goal lead, Pittsburgh had four forwards on during a power play, which proved to be the turning point of this game.
Apr 20, 2014, 9:06 AM EDT
Meanwhile the Lightning are in a dangerous position.
Apr 20, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
“You can’t defend on your heels,” Ryan Suter said.
Apr 20, 2014, 12:35 AM EDT
Colorado overcomes some strange officiating late in Game 2.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:56 PM EDT
Colorado’s rookie sensation is inspiring some bold words.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:19 PM EDT
Colorado might want to keep Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon together.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:54 PM EDT
Special teams factored in.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:37 PM EDT
Apr 19, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
The defenseman last played in the first period.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
He’s clearly not wilting in the postseason spotlight.
Apr 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Columbus has been in the NHL since the 2000-01 season.
Apr 19, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
More magic from Paul Stastny?
Apr 19, 2014, 8:36 PM EDT
Quite a busy 2:26 of ice time.
Apr 19, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT
“I have to be better.”
Apr 19, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT
The Blues coach mostly pleads the fifth.
Apr 19, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT
His play may wind up costing him a suspension.
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- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) 123
- WATCH LIVE: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins (Game 2) 4
- Blues come back to stun Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime, take 2-0 series lead 36
- WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues (Game 2) 4
- Flyers’ Mason out of Game 2, Emery to start again 51
- Lucic fined $5,000 for spearing DeKeyser 80
- Getzlaf powers Ducks to Game 2 victory, 2-0 series lead over Stars 7