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Caps GM: ‘We’re not gonna blow anything up’

Feb 8, 2013, 2:06 PM EDT

George McPhee

Last night in Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals were beaten badly in a game that left captain Alex Ovechkin disgusted and his teammates bemoaning their lack of mental fortitude.

The loss dropped the Caps’ record to 2-8-1, the worst mark in the NHL.

So this morning, general manager George McPhee met with reporters to try and explain how it’s all gone so very wrong.

One issue McPhee repeatedly addressed was discipline. The Caps have been shorthanded 51 times in 11 games, surrendering 15 power-play goals in the process. Their penalty kill (70.6%) is ranked 27th out of 30 teams.

“We’re playing a good game and then we start taking penalties, and we take them in bunches,” said McPhee. “No system, no coach, no team can survive that.”

Another problem spot has been between the pipes.

“Goaltenders have to be better,” said McPhee.

Though 11 games, Michal Neuvirth, 24, and Braden Holtby, 23, have combined for a .875 save percentage, the fourth lowest in the league.

Of course, it was McPhee who rolled the dice on a tandem that included one goalie (Neuvirth) that had never established himself as a reliable NHL starter and another (Holtby) that may have played extremely well in last year’s playoffs, but also started the 2011-12 season in the AHL and isn’t far removed from back-stopping the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

“Right now, it’s not going the way they had hoped, (but) it doesn’t mean it won’t,” said McPhee.

“I’ve seen young goaltenders win Cups in this league. I’ve seen young goaltenders come in and play really well.

“They have a lot of experience. For young goalies, they’ve played a lot in [the AHL], and they’re getting games here.”

McPhee offered strong support for new head coach Adam Oates — “I really like the coaches, I love what they’re doing” — and said he’s spoken with ownership in the past few days about ways to improve.

“If there’s something I can do to make the club better, I will,” he said.

“We’re not going to do anything short-term. We’re not going to blow anything up.”

  1. nach0mancandysandwich - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    I’m shocked they had so many good seasons with what they have had between the pipes.

    • dcfan4life - Feb 8, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Well the last few years they had goalies like Theodore, Voukoun and Varlamov. Neuvirth has been hurt a lot and Holtby just bursted onto the scene in the playoffs.

      • desertfan - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:14 PM

        And then along came LUOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

    • really999 - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Pretty easy to explain… They’ve played in the worst division in hockey for the last 5 years.
      Between Florida, Tampa, Winnipeg/atlanta and the candy canes only one of those teams has been around/over .500 and the other three have been dreadful. Compare that to the Atlantic division.

      Thus they have gotten fat in the regular season vs. week opponents

  2. rushledger - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Does that mean the owner won’t blow you up? If Ovi an crew don’t draw because they become a losing team then the owner had two horrible teams losing money, I’m sure he’s not ruling out a change if your not.

  3. jdvalk - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Take a knee, McPhee.

  4. capsfan19 - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Hey u know what? I seem to remeber a time the caps were first in the conference, lost 10 games straight and still made the playoffs. That was a full season but they turned it around!

    • thecheeman - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      hey what’s with all the positivity? this is a comment section, sir.

  5. mp1113 - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Only change that’s need to be made is a gm who won’t make knee jerk reactions after one season and doesn’t listen to the critics and what they want changed

  6. seanaveryrules - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Perhaps McPhee needs to look in the mirror. Wasn’t he urging Bruce to become more defensive minded while they were dominating the league? I realize they got bounced from the post-season dance fast but I think they were a bit quick on the panic button…

  7. stakex - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    I wonder if the Caps owners feel the same way?

    Perhaps they will want to blow up the management that has transformed this team from the most dangerous team in the league, into a laughing stock in just two years? That might be a good place to start.

    • 2jivecrew - Feb 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      Dangerous during the regular season maybe. But dangerous during the post season where defense, goaltending, and grit get you to the late rounds……… they weren’t dangerous. Their early exits were not an accident and not a fluke.

  8. cspsrbums - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Time for GMGM to go he let Semin walk and for what not second line winger what a clown

    • ravenscaps48 - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      And Alex Semin is tearing it up in Raleigh?…. Didn’t think so.

      • wheresdapuck - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        Semin has more points than Ovi.

  9. whooty - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    goaltending aside.. is there a team in the nhl with less talent on its roster than the caps?

    change coaches three times yet the problems persist. for some reason george mcphee is given a total pass for assembling a roster devoid of quality players. it a coincidence that ted leonsis is the owner of the worst team in the nba and the nhl?

  10. broadstbully33 - Feb 8, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    I dint think there is a need to blow things up but I do think there is a need to shake things up. A trade or better line combinations would be a start.

  11. cspsrbums - Feb 8, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Semin has 2 goal 5 assist +6 2 penallty min and 36 SOG in 9 Games not to shabby he probably has mor points then Johanson Chimera and Perr all total together he is still a threat any time he is on the ice

    • ravenscaps48 - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:36 PM

      We essentially replaced Semin with Ribeiro. Who is having the better year? Ribeiro! You people act like Semin was Jesus on Ice Skates

      • kitshky - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:25 PM

        please don’t say ice skates … just skates’ll do.

      • ravenscaps48 - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        My apologies

  12. dcfan4life - Feb 8, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    He said the same exact thing when the Caps struggled and he blew it up, starting with trading Jagr. Or does everybody forget that season?

  13. 950003cups - Feb 8, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    . “No system, no coach, no team can survive that.”

    Oh yeah? Go talk to anyone playing against the Devils. They take penalty over penalty over and over!! It sucks! Probably much more than anyone in the league. We’re missing our best PK guy who signed in Minnesota. Yet, the system works and they keep winning. Granted our best PK is (even after 20 years) still Brodeur. Look at the PK time for the Devils. Then look at their record. The players are simply NOT buying in to Oates’ system. You need to blow up the team from the 2nd line down and recruit veteran grinders. That’s how his system will be best. Ovi can thrive in the system as Kovy did. It requires 2-way players.

  14. rushledger - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I’m not blaming him for not resigning semin although he should have tried or tried harder to trade away his rights to get something for him, a 6th or 7th rounder is better than nothing. The goalie issue is a big deal neither have the Ryan Miller track record to think they can bounce back they’ve had a good playoff series a piece and solid but not consistent regular seasons he needs a move in his net for sure.

  15. letsgopens8771 - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    You’ve got to “blow something up.” Something has to be done for the Caps, even if it is a trade or the firing of people in the front office (i.e. McPhee, Leonsis, etc.). Sure, rolling the dice with inconsistent goalies is a problem, but that’s not it. There is absolutely no reason why they should not be winning, especially with all this talent like Backstrom, Ovi, Ribiero, and Green. Something is not right with them because they used to be a nightmare for playoff teams. Normally they have the guts and the swagger to go toe to toe with teams like the Pens, but after letting up 5 goals in a 2nd period, 2 within 11 seconds of each other and 3 on the powerplay, I see a team with no guts and a team that has lost its swagger and identity and it trying to get it back. Great job by the Pens, but it looks like the Capitals are not what they used to be.

  16. 950003cups - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    This years Caps remind me of the 2010 Devils when they had a rookie coach in John Maclean. It’s sad and unfortunate, but I think the only way to salvage your season is for Ted Leonsis to open up that checkbook, and financially convince Jacques Lemaire to come, yet again, out of retirement. It’ll take some financial persuasion, but the Devils went that same year on a 20-2-2 roll and was at one time just 6 points out of a playoff spot. That guy would singlehandedly turn your entire franchise north within 5 games.

  17. 950003cups - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:56 PM


    That always happens when a team had a bad year. The fans always look to see who left and quickly make them the the reason the team can’t play. If the roster was exactly the same, they’d wanna know who drive the Zamboni last year and why the new guy is screwing up the ice.

  18. dawglb - Feb 8, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Pulling the goalie vs Pittsburgh last night just solidified having them (goalies) being completely mental for the rest of the season. They are a mess. Green is a bum.

  19. bobhpine - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Why does Lurch the GM still have a job exactly? The Capitals never do anything in the playoffs and now they can’t win in the regular season. This team can’t score, can’t defend and the goaltending sucks. Other than that McPhee is doing a great job.

  20. watermelon1 - Feb 8, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Absolutely the worst handling of goalies I can remember.

    Holtby clearly won the starting job last season and he was used in 1 out of first four games this year?

    I have no idea what they are doing this year, but they really shouldn’t be so dismissive to the idea of “blowing it up.”

  21. hovenaut - Feb 9, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    They’re done.

    Pitchers and catchers next week……

  22. wheresdapuck - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    The CAPS woes start from poor defensive players and it has been a problem for 5 years or more. There was time that the offense could overcome this – not any longer. The goalies are good, but their mental game is gone when your defense never backs you up. In the last 3 games, the goalies have allowed soft goals, but it is more than that. Ever notice how bad passes up the ice occur? Ever notice how blue liners are out of position? Ever notice how many pucks “jump” over our sticks? We need more skill on offensive. But the biggest improvement will be finding blue liners with grit & skill. Keep Erskine and get rid of the rest!

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