23 April, 2014


A Plea for Piss-’n-Vinegar Hockey

Turns out, R.J. Umberger was right.

Really right.

This is what Umberger said after his Columbus Bluejackets lost a close game at home to the Caps just a couple of weeks ago, right before the start of the NHL postseason:

“They float around in their zone, looking for breakaways and odd-man rushes.

“A good defensive team is going to beat them (in the playoffs). If you eliminate your turnovers and keep them off the power play, they’re going to get frustrated because they’re in their zone a lot.”

Funny thing is, the Capitals were so ineffectual in combating Montreal’s defensive structure in the back half of this series that no volume of power plays would have aided their cause. The Caps, a team that from November on flirted with 30 percent efficiency on the power play, and finished at the very top of the league in the extra man category, managed just a single power play tally in 33 tries in this series. Call that culprit no. 1.

  • Culprit no. 2 was a club of spectacularly underachieving mega-millionaires, Mike Green and Alexander Semin foremost among them. Green was hurt last postseason, and so this was to be a spring of redemption for him. Hardly. In this series he hardly staked a defense against his being left off the Canadian Olympic hockey team (the one that won gold without him). He wasn’t one-dimensional in this series, he was zero dimensional.
  • As for Semin, his enigma aura ebbed at its lowest with this series. The 40-goal scorer of the regular season pumped 44 shots on goal against the Habs, but the overwhelming majority of them were of the low quality variety. He fired and misfired indiscriminately. He was part of a second line that failed to tally a single goal in the series, sweeping away the vaunted offensive depth the Caps were envied for all season long. His talent is prodigious, but his disappearing act has worn out his welcome in Washington.

No championship-aspiring hockey club can survive having its best players go AWOL. And when pitted against a team committed to playing team defense, executing it spectacularly for three consecutive, series-concluding games, one committed to shot-blocking until there are bruises on top of bruises, finesse almost always loses out to guts and drive. The Habs, to a man, were sacrificers. So sacrificers opposed a club of pretty-finesse, with a great goalie backstopping the sacrificers. Who would you wager on in the NHL postseason?

You’re too soft, especially on the back end, bloggers began alleging after last spring’s failure. Pittsburgh, too, had high-end skill selected high in the draft, and when it underachieved Pens’ management brought in piss-n-vinegar bodies like Hal Gill and Bill Guerin and, guided by an American League bench boss tapped in mid-season, solidly outperformed the Caps last postseason and went on to win the Cup. Gill and Guerin could have been acquired for a song.

  • Culprit no. 3 was Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak. Over the series’ final three games Halak stopped 128 of the 131 shots he faced: 37 of 38 in game 5; 53 of 54 in game 6; and 41 of 42 in game 7. It’s likely that the absolute youngest of Red Rockers won’t see a three-game performance the likes of Halak’s in this series in his or her lifetime. Necessarily one of playoff hockey’s greatest feats of goaltending came against the Caps.
  • Culprit no. 4 — more damning than any other — was having a roster constructed for a non-checking beer league, rather than a Stanley Cup. Hal Gill was a cornerstone of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ club that snuffed out the Caps last spring, and of course he was a shot-blocking and stifling slot presence in this seven-game series. New media began questioning the finesse architecture of the Capitals gong back to last fall’s training camp. George McPhee gambled on Gabby’s system. This morning, there are very serious questions about it, and about the man who devised it and especially about his role as an in-game tactician.

Gabby’s system, in its essence, says: you can sit back and clog all you want but ultimately my offense will overpower you. George McPhee — including especially with his trade deadline acquisitions of Eric Belanger and Joe Corvo — spent the past few years assembling a quick finesse roster in support of it. The Penguins and their power forwards dominated it down low last spring. A 33-point shortcomer Montreal club relatively easily defended it this one. As George McPhee ponders changes to his roster for 2010-11 — and there will be changes, there have to be changes — he’d do well to think about acquiring more players in the mold of Jason Chimera.

  • Playoff failures accumulated over multiple seasons help a manager thin his herd. Certain players possess a look of calm with a postseason’s pressure — Boyd Gordon and Jason Chimera do, Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann do not.
  • The Jose Theodore tenure in D.C. is over. I stand by my initial assessment of his signing: he didn’t perform as an elite netminder when it counted; his signing did not advance the Capitals’ Cup aspirations but rather delayed them.
  • Bruce Boudreau has coached 225 NHL regular season games and earned a gaudy .701 winning percentage in them. In the postseason, however, he is a conspicuous 13-15. Unacceptable.

This was the healthiest Capitals’ club that’s ever competed in the NHL postseason. They competed hard — their coach last night found no fault with what his players left out on the ice. We are therefore left to conclude that the club was insufficiently constructed, beginning with uncertainty in net and exacerbated by disproportionate finesse at the expense of old time hockey throughout the roster. There should be no more talk of a Stanley Cup in this town before inferior opponents are impaled, bloodied, and battered  in successive series in the postseason.

Something unsavory happened to Alexander Ovechkin at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He returned from the games an altered hockey player, and not altered for the better.  He put up points all right in March and April, but somewhat shockingly he lost both the Richard and Ross trophies, having skated a heavy favorite’s claim to them through the first two-thirds of the season. He earned two suspensions in 2009-10, and after the second one never seemed to regain his bad-ass ways. Alexander Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, needs to return to Washington in the fall his old bad-ass self, blasting bodies through the boards again and apologizing to no one for it. Canadian media will freshly pillory him for it. But how are they treating him right about now?

And it would greatly help Washington’s heavy hockey heart if in a few months’ time he was surrounded by a handful of new bad-asses.



41 Comments

  1. The Peerless wrote:

    I never got to see Columbus enough to think of Jason Chimera as anything more than a curiosity. But seeing a half season of him up close, you’re right — the Caps need more of his kind of attitude.

    29 April, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink
  2. Geo wrote:

    I think back to the Game 1 OT loss (maybe we win it, sweep in 4 and Halak never becomes the monster he did), or even wish we hadn’t won so handily in game 4 cause maybe they would’ve kept Price in net.

    I agree they should let Theo go. He did do a great job in the regular season, but as you say, that’s not what we needed. We should see how Varly and Neuvy (maybe even Holtby?) do as full time goaltenders.
    ———————-
    Canadien columnists think the Caps should go after Calgary D Robyn Regehr (a nasty 6’3″ 225 lb. shutdown defenseman, not a “puck mover”) and/or Ottowa’s D Anton Volchenkov, a shot-blocking machine who turned down a 5-year extension there:
    http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/players/54670/Robyn_Regehr
    http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/players/54383/Anton_Volchenkov
    Maybe after seeing how shutdown defensemen suffocated our team, GMGM will finally see the value of them? I’m just afraid the spectre of Nylander and Jagar (the dangers of inflated long term contracts to free agents) will limit exploration of big free agent deals.

    29 April, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink
  3. Paul wrote:

    What to do over the next few months while I drown my sorrows in an Arnold Palmer, because I’m at work and can’t drink beer here.

    29 April, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  4. Joe wrote:

    Devastatingly accurate. Despite the scores, it seemed like we were never in either of the last three games. I’ve never been so disappointed in my team as I was after Game 5. It was clear after that game that if BB didn’t shake up the lineup and do something different to beat Montreal’s trap, we were not going to win. But never in my life would I have thought that the Caps could go THREE games in a row with one goal – and two of those coming in desperate last minute pushes.
    Agony.

    29 April, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  5. SteveRep33 wrote:

    Backstrom is going to get PAID this offseason. Unfortunately, Semin has 1 year left and Green has 2.

    Any chance GMGM can find a taker for either one and get decent return?

    But you’re right. Finesse fades in the playoffs. I’d gladly trade 20-25 regular season points for a more playoff-viable roster.

    29 April, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  6. josh in TX wrote:

    I’m so frickn’ depressed. I can’t take it. This hurts more than the losses vs the Pens in the 90′s.

    It’s my fault too, I should never have ordered Caps gear for my kids after game 4. I knew, KNEW that was a bad omen, yet I still did it. I said to myself, remember LaFontaine, remember the Pens, but I couldn’t believe they’d lose, to the freakin’ Habs of all teams! Should have waited till they wrapped it up. Now the gear will come and there is no games to watch. I can’t believe it.

    29 April, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  7. Joe wrote:

    I’m sorry, but if Mike Green wins the Norris, he should politely decline and sit back down in his chair. They need to turn him into a sniping winger and stop pretending he’s anything more than an offensive threat. He did as much to stop the Canadians offense over the last two weeks as I did.

    29 April, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  8. TheMermaid wrote:

    Shot-blocking? I’m wearing my Quintin Laing jersey; he’s sitting on the bench. Enuf said.

    29 April, 2010 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  9. Darryl wrote:

    The reason players like Laing and Walker didnt see this series was due to players like Flash and Semin getting more ice time then they needed. To many soft players on this roster and they need to go.

    I hate to say it but BB may need to go as well.. Problem is Im not sure who to get, Promote Woods?

    Go get Regher, Thats a start! Please tell me what we do at Center as well after Nick its thin Gordo and Stecks are 3rd, 4th line guys. Is this Organization waiting for Johansson and Gustafson? We need Veteran leaders on this team. I look for Knuble to be that in full next year, but we need more.

    29 April, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink
  10. The Mule wrote:

    Excellent assessment. Couldn’t agree more with all of your points. After the first or second game of this season when the Caps destroyed the Bruins in Boston, my friends boasted of winning the Cup. My response? “The Capitals will probably win the President’s Trophy this year but they are not a team built to grind out a Stanley Cup.” I say this not to boast of my correct prediction but to point out what has been obvious since day one, and that is that this system simply doesn’t win championships. It’s built for regular season success and little more. Too pretty and not gritty as they say with not enough attention to DEFENSE.

    That all said, the Ovi goal overturned by the refs for goalie interference was one of the worst calls in history. Seriously Ump? Game 7 in the playoffs and you disallow a goal by the home team because the opponent’s defenseman brushed our player into his own goalie for a love tap? Are you kidding me? What a joke.

    29 April, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  11. pucksandbooks wrote:

    Amid all the pain, there remains great passion in the OFB readership. I thank you all for sharing it.

    Mule, we must acknowledge that Gabby’s system has won titles on two levels of professional hockey. That’s not insignificant. What’s most interesting to me is its struggles in the NHL postseason. Why the glaring discrepancy? One hunch I have is that the coaching at the NHL is, obviously, better. Gabby on the bench most nights in the ‘A’ was a mismatch. Less so at this level, clearly.

    My guess is he gets one more season to adjust it. With a healthy number of new players.

    29 April, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  12. Eric wrote:

    So, these needs were addressed by GMGM in the Walker and Chimera deals. I thought Chimera had a decent series. It would be great if he could finish a play every once and a while. The Scott Walker situation really bothers me. You have that guy on your roster with all of his playoffs experience in Carolina and you don’t dress him until Game 7?! When it’s already too late. You have lost all of the momentum in the series. I question Bruce Boudreau on that decision. I’m not saying run him out of town. I just question the decision.

    This team still has the same issues. Lack of shot blocking. Lack of consistent goaltending. Lack of mature leadership. Finally and most damning, lack of playoff heart.

    This line sums it up perfectly, “a roster constructed for a non-checking beer league, rather than a Stanley Cup.”

    29 April, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  13. Doug wrote:

    I’m as disappointed, frustrated, and angry as any Caps fan. But here’s the thing: I don’t want them to abandon their style. I want them to win with Green and Semin flying around the ice in Boudreau’s uniquely offense-first-second-and-third system, because this is the kind of hockey I want to watch. I still believe the Caps, as presently constructed, can win the Cup. They are still a young team (for all the abuse Green takes, no one ever points out that he’s only 24, and that defensemen always take longer to develop, Drew Doughty notwithstanding). Guys like Backstrom, Fehr, and Schultz showed remarkable improvement this year. Carlson looks like a star in the making, and Alzner played great in Game 7. Not to mention the other help that looks to be in the pipeline, including a Lapierre-style pest in Della Rovere (for those who want some agitation). Personally, I almost want to see the Caps go the other way and try to roll out 4 lines of firepower–I’m not sure if that’s possible in the salary cap era, I’m just saying I’d love to see it.

    Don’t misunderstand. I would trade Semin and Green for as many Knubles and Chimeras as it takes to win a Cup. But I’d rather see these guys win it, playing this system. If the 1995 Devils ushered in the trap era, I’m hoping the 2011 Capitals prove offense can win championships, too.

    29 April, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  14. Geo wrote:

    I understand the fan rage in most sites/comments threads, I’m just more curious to see how Leonsis and gmgm react, what concrete steps they take to improve the team. The series is over, time to look ahead. :)

    If they really want to give up on Boudreau (gmgm said they signed him to a “long term” extension in 2008, so I assume they would have to eat a lot of money), they might convince one of the retired Cup-winner warhorses to take over the team short-term. Scotty Bowman is too old (76 I think?), but columnists have tossed around Mike Keenan, Pat Hitchcock and Bob Hartley for the NJ Devils’ job. But if you look up their records in their respective last few years, it’s mediocre at best (but maybe they didn’t have the Capitals’ raw talent?).

    I couldn’t really see them replacing BB with Woods (he’s the defensemen assistant, right? I don’t think his star’s so high right now) or the current Hershey coach. I’d see them more thinking they need a coach who’s gotten teams to a Cup or at least deep in the playoffs, and knows how to adjust his schemes on the fly. And if he’s a jerk who gets under his player’s skin (Keenan and the like), perhaps that’s what they need at this point?

    29 April, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  15. I don’t agree with your assessment of Semin and though Green wasn’t the guy we all hoped he would be this off season he is young and will get better. The reactions here both yours and the commenters are what I call typical DC Sports fan reactions.

    I agree the Caps need more grit. I agree Fleischmann should go – he’s not a top 6 forward on this team. I think either Belanger or Brendan Morrison are solid second line centers and we should keep one of them.

    I don’t know what to think about Theo – maybe if he was in net for game 7 after Varly had a sub 0.900 SV% performance in game 6 I’d have data to base an opinion on. However I do know the Caps cannot afford the money Theo will probably be looking for next season which will likely be a similar ~4M/year deal.

    All that said you have to wonder if anything else matters and gets the Caps a win with the super-human play of Halak in gmaes 5, 6, and 7.

    I for one though would have liked to see some of the Caps hit the Canadiens like Cammalleri and Plekanec more and slow them down, particularly in the first two periods of every game. I think the bigger and stronger Caps playing a more physical game against the smaller Canadiens roster in that manner would have made for an entirely different set of third periods.

    29 April, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  16. Geo wrote:

    Speaking of Plekanec, another column mentioned him as one of the more appealing free agent centers available this offseason. Clearly the Caps are lacking a true 2nd line center. They just don’t seem to think Mattie Perreault or Keith Aucoin have the size for the NHL long-term.

    Though if Montreal makes a long playoff run, I doubt they’ll let Plekanec go. He had a lot more production than B. Mo this year (25 goals, 45 assists): http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/players/55652/Tomas_Plekanec

    29 April, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  17. Sig wrote:

    Philosophy – The Caps went with a philosophy that very rarely translates to playoff success – a power offense is your best defense.

    To build around that philosophy, they ice a finesse team that really lacked any consistent gritty players. Off the top of my head, their sole grit guys consisted of AO, Chimera, Bradley, Knuble, and Laich. While I would never exclude him from this last, AO’s passion for laying the big hit disappeared this playoff series as well.

    Out of those give guys, not one defensive player. And while GMGM should have been busy tracking down a defensive-minded defenseman (Sutton anyone?) at the deadline, he stuck to the philosophy and brought in a soft, offensive-minded defenseman in Corvo.

    Ask yourself this question – Which is easier to defend? A team that is one-dimensional? Or a team that is multi-dimensional? I know one team that knows that answer — the Canadians.

    Soft, one-dimensional teams don’t win in the playoffs. It’s that simple.

    29 April, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  18. penguin pete wrote:

    i think it’s a bit soon to be questioning the return of gabby. like P&B said, maybe after next year.

    and though i love mike green bashing, maybe he should just be accepted for what he is, a great offensive d-man. pair him up with a guy who won’t cross center ice and GET BETTER GOALTENDING(see flyers). no need to deal green.

    i also don’t understand how this is an indictment on AO. but that’s what the media wants. if anyone really needs to go, i’d shop kovalev, i mean, semin.

    i wanted to come here and gloat, but, A, it wasn’t the pens who eliminated the caps and B, i’ve developed a Grinch/Whoville relationship here. i really wanted see a battle in the ECF, then we could all really go at each other.

    anyway, things will settle down, all knee-jerk moves will be avoided, and there’s always next year.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  19. Hittman wrote:

    I agree with all points except for maybe 2:

    Chimera is fast and a big body, but man he has hands of stone. He missed probably 5 scoring opportunities in the post season that would have been great for the team.

    2nd: maybe the problem with the team is that they faced an otherworldly-hot goaltender. A few tweaks here and there and Gabby’s system might still be the best one for this franchise.

    But yes, trade the fuck out of Green or put him on the wing where he belongs. Both Habs goals were caused by him last night, whether through a penalty or a terrible overcommit.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  20. swva_fan wrote:

    I think success for this Caps team is too new, and being the top dog is uncharted territory for this franchise. Those of us who have been fans for a long time — in our wildest dreams did we think we’d see a top-scoring, 120+ point NHL team call D.C. home?

    With all of their talent, they seem to lack leadership when they’re down. OV is new to the captaincy; he’s learning that it’s more than a honor bestowed on the most talented player. But maybe he isn’t the right man to for that job. He may respond better to being called out than being the one getting in his teammates’ faces when necessary. Or perhaps he needs to get some worthy and capable lieutenants wearing the A who know how to keep the team disciplined. The captain should never miss a practice. Even if he doesn’t skate, he should show up.

    Was Dave Steckel injured? If not, why scratch him when his ability to win faceoffs was proven to be so valuable in last year’s playoffs? He was missed, especially late in the third period.

    I started watching the Caps in the Rod Langway / Scott Stevens era. We’d welcome some blueliners like that next year.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  21. Geo wrote:

    Hey, Ted Leonsis weighed in at his blog:
    http://www.tedstake.com/2010/04/29/congratulations-to-montreal/

    I have a friend from Buffalo who e-mailed this raging indictment after the game about Boudreau and the whole team. I didn’t respond kindly to how he put it. Now we’re not talking. Who knew the power of a lost playoff series? :(

    29 April, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  22. Habitual wrote:

    Wow what a game last night The Caps Fans must be in Shock as I am since there will be no rematch with the Pens

    I guess there Is a lot of Questions going around this morning as where the Fate of the Caps will be heading.There should be some major overhaul In their posture of their team.

    Mike Green where was he last night instead of on the ice sitting in the Penalty Box, Thus this gave the Canadaians a powerplay and scoring the first goal lifted their confidence and moral to Conquer the Caps the top team of the Regular season.

    As for Semin no doubt His welcome has come to a end toss him to a curb he provided no assistance to the Caps during the 7 games The Cap Fans had the pleasure of watching.

    For Ovie also what did he do maybe its time to replace him with another member of the team to take over leadership.

    Now for your COMMENT Hockey in This Town??? Do you look at sports for the enjoyment of Impaled/Bloodied/Battered If so maybe you should tune into a few UFC matches that would Quenche your thirst.

    The Caps need to reassemble their whole organization If they want to have another chance of winning the Stanley Cup in the future however that could be 5 years from now.

    As for the series between the Canadians and Penquins, Crosby & Pens will Conquer as the Caps have failed.

    P.S I am surprised that Any Cap Fan would be reading this blog today.I would think He/She would be utterly depressed.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  23. Chris G wrote:

    Take it easy folks. Please, the Caps don’t need to ‘reassemble’ the team, good god.

    Let’s face it, this team is going to be good for a long time. Need a couple more grinders on the blue line, and two or so gritty forwards. Varlamov, though not spectactular, is serviceable in net.

    Yes, get rid of Fleischmann, and either Morrison or Belanger. Keep Semin, it’s not like the guy wasn’t around. He did have 40-some shots on net, just wasn’t able to finish. He will, he’s young.

    Keep your heads-up Caps fans, got beat by a hot goalie. Flat out, that’s it. Outplayed the Habs throughout the series but lost. It happens. After the next regular season we’ll be right there as one of the top teams in the league again, ready to take another run at it.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  24. DCPensFan wrote:

    “Pens’ management brought in piss-n-vinegar bodies like Hal Gill and Bill Guerin”

    Puck Daddy dubbed it “Operation: Grow a Pair” and had this to say:

    – Shero has now added Chris Kunitz, Craig Adams and Bill Guerin to this team. Give the man credit: He realized his decisions last summer neutered this locker room, and has reinserted a spine into this franchise. If that puts the Penguins back in the mindset of last season’s team, then Pittsburgh’s dangerous.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  25. Marjolaine wrote:

    @mule: are you still crying about that disallowed goal? We’re laughing all the way to Pittsburgh!!!

    29 April, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  26. cdk wrote:

    there is not enough credit due to havlat. before the talk about semin/green’s etc. failure maybe one should look at bb and ask if he made the right adjustments for a winning strategy vs the habs. I think not. true, the caps need toughness and some of the players acquired at the deadline did not lend enough grit to the lineup. frankly, is there anyone on the roster that inspires fear or concern (pay the price)? I think not. as far as I’m concerned the 1st and 4th lines w/ bradley; gordon and chimera were the only lines playing w/ playoff intensity. too many of the players played as if physical contact was prohibited. in the beginning of the year I bemoaned the lack of physical defensemen who could skate and the reservations exposed w/ varly and theodore. gmgm, regretfully, did nothing to address these concerns. corvo can move the puck- too often it’s to the wrong people- that’s why he was called: Oh No Joe. I could go on but I’m too depressed. I feel let down again-another early finish to the season.
    bb’s style encourages too many odd man rushes going the other direction. maybe there should be a thorough evaluaton of this strategy which, I believe, does not work in the post season.
    and, by the by, steckel was one of our best face off guys and for what reason did he not play? the days of giving bb credit for walking on water are over.

    29 April, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  27. toughhockey wrote:

    wow, this article hits things on the head. For many years I and a few others have been trying to warn folks of this, but to no avail.

    we are a team built for a regular season, beating up on the weak Southeast for most of our wins. That we can do!

    What we can’t do is overcome when our finesse only players care shut down. We need more plsyers who have skill AND toughness and a nasty demeanor. Ones that take losing perosnally. We jsut don’t ahve enough of that and sadly our prospects in the years to come are the same way, so we can expect no different unless big changes are made. As a a Caps fan this breaks my heart!

    29 April, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  28. hater77 wrote:

    what is gabby’s coaching style?
    i thought mcphee was a genius?
    entertaining hockey for folks that don’t know jack about hockey, but not for winning in the playoffs…hey your captain really manned up…i don’t want to talk

    29 April, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  29. Doc wrote:

    The most pleasurable evening was watching The Caps Blow their 3-1 lead to the Habs While I was consuming a few Alexander Keiths Pale Ales.

    The Pens will succeed over the Habs as they have a young Kid as a leader and lots of get up and go and there is a lot of Truth what Habitual has stated above, So Please no more Excuses needed from the Cap Fans enjoy the rest of the series and accept the loss as loyal cap fans. If there Is any Fans left that will give their support to the Capitals in the next season

    GO PENS GO

    29 April, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  30. Geo wrote:

    I thought the reasoning on Stecks was he was having a hard time keeping up with Montreal’s forwards, and Boyd Gordon (who can also center, and does face-offs about as well as Steckel) was more effective. They wanted to get Scott Walker in for Game 7.

    29 April, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  31. muddapucker wrote:

    I love Bruce Boudreau, but I think Bruce needs to learn from this as well. I was glad to see him sit Flash in game 7. It was an indication that he recognizes that personal relationships and loyalties can only take a team so far and while it is important to be loyal it is also important not to be blinded by loyalty.

    Semin knocked Crosby’s lack of interesting and creative hockey. While there is some truth to what he says, it should be noted that Crosby plays for teams that win medals and trophy’s. Semin’s style is not suited for Championship hockey. If Bruce hasn’t figured that out, he needs to. (FYI I detest the Pens, but you got to appreciate their play).

    And while Greenie loves Bruce and Bruce loves Greenie,the fact of the matter is that Mike Green is not a defenseman. On the contrary, he is a defensive liability.

    The Caps didn’t play all that bad in their final two losses, but neither did they play all that good. You ought to be able to win those games, but they were totally broken on offense. I have never seen the Caps look so out of synch. They were regularly losing control of the puck as they entered the zone. It was either coming off their stick or poor passes.

    So the questions Bruce needs to ask himself are two:

    Am I too close to a few of my players that have been with me through Hershey and elsewhere? and;

    Is the creative, free wheeling style of offense suited for playoffs?
    The Habs packed it in around the net and you could’t even see the net from the point. It was like the walls that are created in soccer when a team has a free kick. Meanwhile, the Caps were looking for the creative and skill play that simply wasn’t there.

    Give credit to Montreal, they played with grit and determination and beat the Caps, not with skill, but with will. I think the Caps could have profited with the same formula.

    29 April, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  32. Chris G wrote:

    CDK, couldn’t agree with you more on all accounts. There were too many Capitals players that just didn’t seem to have that playoff feel out there. Don’t understand why Scott Walker wasn’t out there in game 1. Don’t understand why BB didn’t re-strategize.

    DOC and Habitual, go F**k yourselves you pansy-a** pieces of sh**. Why don’t you go jerk eachother off about it. Enjoy your gloomy, unemployed, eye-sore, sh**-hole of a town. I turn my depression into hate, so suck my BA**S!

    You’re team will be sitting on their a**es soon enough. GO Caps GO

    29 April, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  33. Geo wrote:

    I like Boudreau, but if they can’t convince him to evolve his coaching style into one more suited to playoff hockey (2-1, 3-2 type games), and as you guys pointed out, hold his players (even his favorites from his Hershey days) accountable for their non-performances, then maybe it is time to bring in more of a disciplinarian coach and/or someone with more of a history of NHL playoff success.

    As for the Habs, I’m haunted by that 5-on-3 PP in game 6 where the Caps passed and passed and couldn’t find a way to get a puck on net. And yet the Canadiens on that 4-on-3 pp in period 1 last night – boom, they scored just like that.

    29 April, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  34. GEO,

    That juxtaposition of power plays — the Caps’ 5-on-3 in game 6 versus the Habs’ 4-on-3 of last night — is insightful and poignant. All the more mystifying when you consider the personnel carrying them off.

    29 April, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  35. Sherrie Van Houten wrote:

    I trust the Caps won’t be making any rash moves. A little time needs to pass in order to view this loss objectively.
    A few thoughts from well west of DC: Why get Scott Walker at the trade deadline if he wasn’t going to play til Game 7? Walker is the kind of guy teams need in the playoffs, and I thought his line was the Caps’ best last night.
    Mike Green may turn into a fine offensive D-man someday, but the first step to that is an absolutely solid stay-at-home partner. Green is still young, but it was disheartening not to see him improve from last year’s playoff performance (when he was hurt…).
    I love Bruce Boudreau, but he may not be the coach to take the Caps to the next step. No shame in this–different coaches have different strengths, such as teaching a young team, or teaching them to win, or teaching them to win it all. Bruce has done a terrific job with the Caps til now, but the clock may be–should be–ticking on whether he’s the guy.
    For today–enjoy the season for what it was, think about something besides hockey for awhile, and you’ll be ready to go for next season. Trust me–I’ve been there, and it works.

    29 April, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  36. Letz Go Caps wrote:

    Well, Umberger wasn’t right about having to keep the Caps off the power-play lol. I understand everyone is going to impugn the system. I don’t think it’s the system, I think it’s the players (chokers). Also, for the love of god Caps, should you ever get a lead in a playoff series ever again you better play that next game as if you’re the one who will be eliminated. No Caps team should ever let up and expect to win anything period, won’t happen.

    29 April, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  37. Letz Go Caps wrote:

    “They competed hard — their coach last night found no fault with what his players left out on the ice.”

    Did they compete hard at the start of game 5? NO, they competed hard after yielded Montreal confidence and momentum in the series. If you set yourself to choke you shouldn’t be suprised when it happens. Montreal didn’t take a single shift off, that’s why they won. EPIC FAIL.

    29 April, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  38. VanZabDan wrote:

    As a 12 year season ticket holder I’m even more upset tonight than last night. A lot of good points above but I don’t think Theo got a chance. He had a poor start in game 2 and never a second chance. Nabokov and Halak also got pulled except they got their chance. Theo was as consistent as one could be in the second half with the longest unbeaten streak in like 10+ years. Kevin Weekes critcised BB for creating controversy when you didn’t need it for not naming him the starter in the last 1-2 weeks. He was right and perhaps that carried over. Despite that, no rash moves but time for a hard look.

    29 April, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  39. OvieTracker wrote:

    Thanks for nailing all points on the head pucksandbooks. The truth sometimes hurts but it has to be said.

    What’s most hurtful for me is your observation, as I noted myself but was oftentimes reluctant to speak about, is the unsavory alteration of Ovie post-Olympics and most especially post-Campbell hit/suspension. Ovie was criticized and IMO responded to the criticism by playing un-Ovielike. He played like he was more concerned about vindicating himself and restoring his reputation, and as a result, he was often tentative and cautious. He needs to say, screw the Canadian media and their attacks, and go back to being the badass take-no-prisoners player he has to be to be effective.

    I want the pre-Olympics Ovie back when the 2010-2011 starts.

    30 April, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  40. josh in TX wrote:

    Doug, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I was totally hoping this years Caps would have been the death blow of the 90′s Devils. This is what makes them losing so disappointing. The NHL has become much better over the last few years. In years past a 2 goal lead into the third period was a done deal. Not anymore and that is why hockey is fun again because of teams like the Caps.

    I hope the Caps keep what they’ve put in place. It’s good for hockey.

    1 May, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink
  41. Oakden Wolf wrote:

    I know it’s a month late, but I’m trying to find people to read this:

    Were Ovechkin and the Capitals robbed? The case for review of goaltender interference and “no goal” calls

    24 May, 2010 at 1:58 am | Permalink

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  1. [...] On Frozen Blog: I guess you could call me a bandwagon Caps fan, but a D.C. sports lover. Hence, I’ve always rooted for the Caps, but I don’t know all the intricate details surrounding the team. On Frozen Blog does a great job of breaking down what went wrong and makes a plea for “Piss-’n-Vinegar Hockey.” [...]