Blog Entry

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 3:28 am

It’s hard to fathom how a Washington Capitals team that can’t hold a third-period lead would become the fourth team in NHL history to advance after it dropped the first three games in a playoff series. 

That’d take veteran leadership, grit and smarts --- all of which were lacking as the Tampa Bay Lightning eked out a 4-3 victory in Game 3 of the second-round series at the St. Pete Times Forum on Tuesday.

The Caps all but certainly lost the series in a span of 24 seconds early in the third period as Tampa Bay forwards Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone scored for the game’s final margin. A turnover by Eric Fehr led to the Stamkos marker and seconds later Malone drove hard to the net --- something the Caps still refuse to do with regularity --- and a pass from teammate Nate Thompson deflected (legally) off his skate and in. 

“I’m not surprised from what I saw from Tampa,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I’m surprised some of our guys panicked a little bit. That comes when you’re down 2-0 in the series. You’re pushing and they’re coming on pretty hard.”

Boudreau should be used this from his Capitals. He’s taken these rulers of the regular season to the playoffs each of his four seasons at the helm, although the team has only managed series victories over one team: the New York Rangers (twice). A year after they won the Presidents’ Trophy and were bounced in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens, the best team record-wise in the Eastern Conference now stands one game away from elimination.

This loss certainly can’t be pinned on Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored a goal, had an assist and was all over the ice in an attempt to provide a spark even if he tried to do too much at times. And you can’t fault his optimism after the game, even if it’s misplaced. 

“Again, I think we dominated them all game,” Ovechkin said. “They just scored on their chances. They played a solid game on defense and (Lightning goalie Dwayne) Roloson played great. It’s not over.”

The only period the Caps could make an argument they “dominated” was the second as they scored three goals and finished with a 3-2 lead. It was a wash in the first period and the Caps went nearly 13 minutes between shots in the third. 

“We get up for a certain amount of time and I think that our guys think the game is over," Caps forward Jason Arnott said. "The guys just relax a little bit and then they (the Lightning) just come. In the playoffs you need to be focused and ready on every shift. If you aren’t, bad things happen.”

Minus Ovechkin and hard-nosed veteran Mike Knuble who scored the Caps’ first goal, Washington’s top forwards again turned in lackluster performances. Alexander Semin, again too choosy on his shots, didn’t record his first shot until the closing minutes of regulation. Nicklas Backstrom, who at this point better have some sort of injury to explain his ineffectiveness, has two points in the playoffs – none in Game 3 --- and hasn’t had a goal in 16 games overall. 

While the Caps’ play hasn’t been consistent, at least Boudreau is. When the going gets tough, Bruce gets tough on the refs. 

“It sounds like I’m whining,” Boudreau prefaced one comment before he complained about a first-period goal that was disallowed after Semin jumped on the ice early. Replays clearly showed that the Caps had six skaters on the ice, but Boudreau called the too many men on the ice rule “ambiguous.”

He also didn’t like Malone’s goal where he battled with Caps defenseman John Carlson for position in front of goalie Michal Neuvirth

“If you look at it, Malone is driving the net and he’s pushing our player into our goaltender and he can’t kick out his right leg to make the save,” Boudreau said. “It’s a no-goal, no-penalty call.”

Actually, it looked like a typical, hard-driving goal you see this time of year. You can forgive Boudreau, since he doesn’t see that a whole lot from his skaters.

But no worries. A loss in Game 4 on Wednesday and Boudreau may no longer have to worry about the Caps or their middling postseasons ever again.  

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:46 pm
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Since: Apr 11, 2008
Posted on: May 4, 2011 9:15 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

How about Crosby and Malkin John?
As in the Pens' top two scorers.
Our PP might not have gone 0 for 2011 and in high scoring games, which tbf you blew us out the water in game 5 and the third period of game 6, the Pens might have had a chance.
As pointed out it's all ifs, buts and maybes but what is an absolute is that the Pens would have been more dangerous with those two on the ice.

Since: Apr 11, 2008
Posted on: May 4, 2011 7:59 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

How can organisations be truly dominant when there's a salary cap in place?
You'd have to have a lot of players on 1m or so and no stars, so you'd lose.
Interesting point you make though, given at one stage the Pens did have most of Wilkes-Barre playing for them and it wasn't for a game or two.
Bylsma should have a legitimate shot at the Jack Adams, Fleury was our MVP but his first six games probably blew any chance of an award. There again, Capitals seem to put an awful lot of effort into debating individual awards when their spring implosion happens, again.

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2011 6:45 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

If you had crosby , tampa would have been bounced?  You think one player would have made a difference ... we were down 3-1 and then won 3 in a row .. we used great defence and an awesome goalie ... Plus the third line is better than most teams first ... keep on going what if , what if , what if and enjoy the stanley cup on tv

Easy there big guy, you have had hockey for ten years. Crosby was having the season of his career and was on pace for 130 points. If you don't think he would make a difference then you are not smart enough for me to even discuss hockey with you. Crosby and Malkin have been 50%+ of the Penguins offense since they have played together.  It is not an excuse because injuries are a part of the game, but when you are missing two Art Ross trophy winners from your lineup then it is bound to have a little effect on your team. Byslma did a hell of a job holding it together but they lacked the firepower needed to go deep this year. Look out for a healthy Pens team next year with the improvments they made on D and Neil skating on a line with Crosby. 

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: May 4, 2011 6:38 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

I am a big hockey fan who is a transplant from Pittsburgh to DC. I went to college in Virginia and stayed in the area. I am a Penguins fan but I have several diehard Caps fans as friends. They constantly ask for my unbiased opinion and this is what I see. Ovechkin is a great talent but is not a leader. There is nothing wrong with that, not all men are built to lead but the Caps need a leader. It was a similiar situation with the Pens when Lemieux and Jagr played together. Jagr was supremely talented but not a team leader, without Lemieux the Pens would have floundered. Obviously Lemieux's talent was greater than Jagr, but Jagr won 5 Art Ross trophies! The Caps management recognized that they needed a leader this season and they hoped Arnott would fill that role. I think he helped but he is not strong enough to supplant Ovechkin as the team leader. The Caps need a ball busting captain who demands excellence from his teammates or a coach who does. The Caps do not have a disciplinarian as a coach or a team leader. Someone needs to call out Backstrom, Semin, and Green for their dissappearing acts in the playoffs. They are talented players who have no playoff success. Say what you want about Sid, but he is a playoff warrior and he leads by example as well as demands excellence from his teammates. The Caps need one bad ass captain or coach to demand full effort from every player, as a Pens fan I am happy if they stay status quo but they are too talented not to have someone pushing them to the edge of that talent. 

Since: Jun 24, 2008
Posted on: May 4, 2011 6:31 pm

Tampa bay Bolts

If you had crosby , tampa would have been bounced?  You think one player would have made a difference ... we were down 3-1 and then won 3 in a row .. we used great defence and an awesome goalie ... Plus the third line is better than most teams first ... keep on going what if , what if , what if and enjoy the stanley cup on tv

Since: Jul 4, 2007
Posted on: May 4, 2011 6:13 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

You can tell this guy hates Bruce. I mean just look at the last couple of sentences. This guy hates Boudreau and he doesnt even try to hide it. Good article (if you like the blatantly ovbious, no need for research type), but the bias is a little much.

Since: Oct 8, 2008
Posted on: May 4, 2011 4:53 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

Boudreau's turn is over.  Give someone else a chance.  They've got the talent they just need to put it together.

Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 4, 2011 4:32 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

I am a Caps fan so I will get that out of the way now.  And the problems with their playoff collapses go much further than being "soft", but if you are going to write a comment like that, please know what you are talking about.  They signed Semin to a ONE year extension.  Not a "big contract" so get your facts straight.  Also, you are a fool if you think they should blow this team up.  Are they missing some pieces they need to make a legitimate Cup run? Yes, but blow the team up? You are a freaking idiot if you think one of the most talented and young teams in the league should be blown up.  I'm not saying that as a Caps fan.  I'm saying that as any fan of hockey would say. 
As usual the people who come to CBS for hockey knowledge know nothing, but what can I say, I still come here to enjoy a good laugh at the idiotic crap I see 

Since: Jul 15, 2009
Posted on: May 4, 2011 4:15 pm

Capitals primed for another postseason letdown

You nailed it on just about every point. Shultz isn't bad, per se, but I'd rather have a couple rookies come up who are actually going to make a difference as opposed to being along for the ride. And if someone has not watched the Caps/Islanders, Caps/Pens playoff series from the 80's and 90's - you haven't seen anything yet.

Regardless of record every year, or what happens tonight, Let's Go Caps!

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