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Caps’ Backstrom: We need to learn how to play in the playoffs

May 13, 2013, 11:51 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals looks to pass the puck during the second period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

After the New York Rangers’ 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 7, forward Nicklas Backstrom was asked what kind of lessons his team could take from their first-round exit.

“Lesson? Maybe learn how to play in the playoffs, I would say,” Backstrom said, according to the Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “It’s the same thing as previous years.”

This is the second straight year that the Capitals have dropped a Game 7 against the New York Rangers, but it runs deeper than that.

Over the last six years the Washington Capitals have won their division five times and have consistently made the playoffs. Despite that, they have been unable to make it to the Stanley Cup finals. Over that time, the Capitals have tried to shake up their tactics and plenty of key players have been replaced.

All the same, Washington hasn’t been able to step up in the postseason.

“It feels like deja vu,” Backstrom admitted. “It happened before.”

Big changes probably aren’t coming for the Capitals. Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have been locked in to long-term contracts and the Capitals don’t have any major unrestricted free agents outside of 33-year-old forward Mike Ribeiro. Additionally, Adam Oates will almost certainly return as the team’s bench boss after their impressive late season surge that got them into the playoffs in the first place.

Barring a blockbuster trade, this group will get another chance next year. We’ll see what they can do with it.

  1. jernster21 - May 13, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    Can’t really blame the coach anymore. Not showing up to a game 7 at home is insane and that’s on the players.

    • polegojim - May 14, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      No kidding… we need to ‘learn’ how to play in the playoffs???

      I can’t even grasp thinking or saying that… seriously?

      These Caps and Canucks teams will go down in history as perennial underperformers.

      Just no excuse other than failed ‘player’ leadership.

      It’s the difference between Tiger and Sergio… one finishes… the other whines about it.

  2. ludacrish05 - May 13, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    Rangers deserved the win, Lundqvist is on a mission this year, good luck to them the rest of the way

  3. blomfeld - May 14, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    No … you need to rid yourselves of that ‘overpaid’ parasitic hotdog !

  4. 19to77 - May 14, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    That’s the kind of harsh truth they need to hear in that locker room. Hell, maybe Backstrom should be captain. It’s not like he could possibly be worse at it than Ovechkin.

  5. crabcakesfootball - May 14, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    “Despite that, they have been unable to make it to the Stanley Cup finals.”

    Uh- they cant even make it to the CONFERENCE finals. This era of Caps hockey is the era that never was.

  6. goodellisruiningtheleague - May 14, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    “Wait.. winning the division doesn’t mean you win the cup?”

    – Washington Capitals

  7. steeltuff - May 14, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    They can’t blame Bruce Boudreau anymore. What about GM George McPhee? Half a decade has gone by, so he should know how to groom the team for the playoffs. They’re in the weakest division in the EC year after year, only to falter in the post-season to teams who are better equipped for the playoffs. They’re the San Jose Sharks of the East — primadonnas who win scoring titles and regular season MVP awards, but underachievers in prime time.

  8. vcupats - May 14, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    The closest the CAPS (yes, a fan) came to the East Finals is by giving OV a limited role last year. He closed out the last 5 games with zero points – I’m OVer this already.

    • stakex - May 14, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      Aside from the last game, defense wasn’t their problem…. it was scoring goals. Can’t give Ovechkin a limited role when you need goals. Besides, he actually played a fairly solid two way game most of the series (the one goal he was blamed for, he really couldn’t have done anything about)… even blocking some shots. So I’m really not sure he keeping him off the ice would have helped the Caps.

      And actually, the Caps almost got there a few years ago as well, when they lost to the Pens.

  9. watermelon1 - May 14, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    No … you need to rid yourselves of that ‘overpaid’ parasitic hotdog !

    You’re right… They DO need to get rid of MIKE GREEN.

    Perhaps get at least ONE true defenseman.

  10. capsfan19 - May 14, 2013 at 4:34 AM

    Oh ok blomfeld and who will take his contract? Real brilliant with your witty words.
    Ovi shouldnt be captain, been saying that since they made him captain. He doesnt know how to handle the team. Leading by example doesnt work. Look at all the remaining teams in the east? All strong team captains.
    Im glad someone is saying it cause they really do. That speaks volumes to their grit and grind to lose 5-0 at home in game 7. I think there will be some moves made. It needs to happen if the caps are serious about winning the stanley cup which i sometimes question the ownership is really after.

  11. fbothharbaughs - May 14, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    Uh… haven’t they been to the playoffs the last 6 years? Just how steep is your learning curve, Nicky?

  12. hockeydon10 - May 14, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    A few things IMHO.

    OV should give the ‘C’ to someone else. Not being a fan I’m not sure who. He didn’t perform this year, but his playoff numbers are, I believe, the best on that team.

    GMGM apparently can’t build a team around one of the top offensive threats of the last 10 years. This certainly isn’t the best team he’s put together, but that’s still not an excuse.

    The Rangers played it smart and double-teamed OV as much as possible, and when not possible they shadowed him with a player willing to sacrifice everything else just to stop #8.

    Oates putting in a new system and having a short training camp accounts for the super slow start to the season, not this crash in the playoffs.

    This was really more like a 6 seed “upsetting” a 4 seed, if it weren’t for the stupid divisional top-three seeding. Hardly some jaw-dropping upset.

  13. rpiotr01 - May 14, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    They need more grinders and more talent on the blue line. I thought that, except when game 7 got away from them, the Caps played good defensive hockey. Just talent-wise they don’t have a Girardi or McDonagh – guys who will never be huge offensive contributors but who can stay at home and just shut down the other team’s best players, log huge minutes each night, and do it EVERY night. They also need to wonder about their goaltending situation.

    • utherydeswayn - May 14, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      The Caps goaltending situation is pretty envious. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but this Holtby kid is pretty good. I mean, he did give up less goals than that Lundqvist guy through six games. Granted, the wheels fell off in game 7, but lets not forget what he did in the last postseason as well.

  14. flavadave10 - May 14, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    What they need to do is get the heck out of DC and come back to Baltimore. That should remove the curse.

    • nolanwiffle - May 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      The Caps were never based in Baltimore. Perhaps you’re thinking of the Bullets. Or perhaps you’re not thinking at all.

      • flavadave10 - May 14, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        1996ish they were based in Baltimore. Remember Jim Carrey was their goalie and they played in the Baltimore Arena.

      • nolanwiffle - May 14, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        The Washington Capitals were part of the NHL’s 1974 expansion. They’ve always been the Washington Capitals. I believe they may have played a few games per season in Baltimore during the time period you describe, in order to expand their regional appeal.

        Much like the Boston Celtics playing a few games per season in Hartford, Connecticut. No one, however, has ever called them the Hartford Celtics.

  15. ibieiniid - May 14, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    file that headline quote under “No Sh**”

  16. clefty1 - May 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    How many times are the Caps going to use that excuse?

  17. har21441 - May 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    It’s important to remember that the Caps biggest issue is expectation. They are a mediocre team in a bad division. They are good enough to regularly win the terrible South East division, but they are always outmatched due to the top seeding they get, rather than the low 7th or 8th (if placed at all) they deserve.

    This will all be moot after realignment next year when they’ll be lucky to even sniff the playoffs in a good division. And if they do creep in, they’ll be in the cellar where they belong. The good news there is that no one will seem surprised at their early exit from the postseason, since that will be what is expected.

  18. banger60 - May 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Talk to your stupidstar, he has no idea what playoff hockey is all about, call him, he’s at his mommas house, vodka will cure his hurt feelings. RANGERS!

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