Blog Entry

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

Posted on: May 4, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 3:16 am

The Washington Capitals latest postseason failure can be traced back to December.

Caps GM George McPhee had the perfect opportunity to bounce coach Bruce Boudreau during the team's eight-game skid -- not because he’s a horrible coach, not a nice guy or a bad spokesman for a rug cleaning company. McPhee needed to show there were consequences, the NHL equivalent of sitting your kid in the corner for a timeout.

The end result of McPhee’s inaction came to pass on Wednesday: Washington was swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 5-3 victory in Game 4 of the second-round series. The Caps became the first No. 1 seed in the 17-year history of the current playoff format to fall victim to a sweep in the first two rounds.

Well, I guess the Caps did accomplish something this season.

“I knew it was a tough year,” Boudreau said after his team’s implosion was complete. “I just thought if we persevered, that something good would happen.”

Boudreau fell to 17-20 in the postseason, a record that is in contrast to his 189-79-39 record in the regular season. He’s lost four of the six series he’s coached in with the Caps, the only wins coming off the New York Rangers.

McPhee does need to share in the blame for not making the tough decision to let Boudreau go, but he deserves credit for the depth he added during the season. The Caps brought in Jason Arnott in a trade deadline deal with the New Jersey Devils. He also dealt for defenseman Scott Hannan --- even if he had a horrible second round, and finished a minus-2--- and his move not to add a veteran goalie didn’t backfire. Michal Neuvirth wasn’t spectacular, but he also wasn’t the reason the Caps got bounced early again.

“They have everything it takes to win,” said Arnott, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason. “No question. It’s a tough thing to do. Playoffs can go one way or another. You have to have luck. You have to have bounces go your way. For me, I think this team has a great mix of guys who can win.”

Much of the blame has to go to the Caps for not sticking to their more defensively responsible system that was supposed to pay dividends in the postseason. It was a great idea, but it could be an indication that the players may have stopped listening to Bruce sometime earlier this series because his skaters reverted back to their free-form ways.

Of course, no matter how many of us in the media or fans talk about, this is a decision that sits with McPhee and owner Ted Leonsis, who is more tolerant of the status quo then most. And if Brooks Laich, also a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, had his way, Boudreau and his assistants, Dean Evason and Bob Woods, would be back. 

“That doesn’t fall on Bruce," Laich told The Washington Post. "We’re the guys that play the game. Bruce, Dean and Bob, I think we have a dream team of coaches. We’re privileged to play for these guys. Any criticism directed toward them is completely unjust. They put the game plan together and it’s up to the players to execute.”

In pro sports, however, you can't get rid of an entire underperforming playoff team. Replacing the coaching staff is the easier route. 


-- A.J. Perez

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:41 pm
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Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: May 9, 2011 12:45 pm

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

Sloppy line changes, guys tuning out under critical situations, lack of efficient PP, not bringing Varly in for a game so both goalies are competition sharp sure sound like coach influence and decision.  Personally think choice of captain must be rethought regardless of egos.  Not sure influence of Coach on this but I am sure there is alot.

BB should go; as previously stated here, not because he is not a good coach but because he has taken them as far as he can. 

Since: Apr 6, 2010
Posted on: May 5, 2011 4:30 pm

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

Yes its bad to be swept but a 2 one goal losses (one in OT) and it was to a team that finished 4 points lower than them. Outside of Vancouver most the playoff teams this year finished pretty bunched together in the standings so there really isn't a stand out team that is heads and tails above the rest. TB got that one play they needed in two of the games and thats the difference.

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: May 5, 2011 3:43 pm

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

I agree BB should go.  It seems his natural philosophy for winning is last years philosophy not this year.  He did same with Bears and they were winners as well.  Difference is NHL vs AHL.  THis system wins in playoffs in AHL.  Never in NHL.  It took Edmonton several years to understand this and Detroit as well.  When they did they became perenial winners with same personnel.

Second major problem was selection of Ovechkin as captain.  SInce he was selected he hasn't been same player, especially in playoffss.  He now feels as captain he must do everything.  He is not Crosby as all around player nor is he like Toews.  These are also the young guys who are captains and dioing well.  Look at most successful teams they have guy in early 30s who can control his game and be leader at same time.  Ovie needs to be free wheeler to be effective.  He takes away from his game and also Backstrom.  Please note who has more assists.  Wrong way.  Backie should be assist guy.  Right now best candidate as C should be Knuble.  A little old but he will get his 20 goals regardless and he is respected.  Arnott maybe but too old and not sure he will be back.

I look at TB coach and he ran PP like a pro.  Same as Vancouver and Bruins.  Caps is and always has been slipshod and incohesive.  Poor passing and goalie almost always has view.  They have been terrible in PP all year.  Keep players.  THey are great and with correct C and coach who can put the discipline in they can still have a dynasty. 

Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: May 5, 2011 3:23 pm

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

i wouldnt say the caps had No sign of trouble in the first round.  107 pts, playing an 8 seed that got in on the last day and didnt have there best all around player, and in a 2-1 series had a 3-0 lead going into the 3rd period of game 4.  Two overtime wins, the second on a fluke own goal, The Rangers deffense are all kids other then mcabe, Gaborik gave them effort but no scoring, yet if it werent for a 12 minute melt down that series was going to game five tied, and who knows if the caps would have made it out alive.  I was really impressed with how they adapted the new deffensive style, but they were playing a team that didnt have a 25 goal scorer.  Once Tampa entered the arena full of finishers and skilled players along with the best 41 year old playoff goalie ever, they turned back into the caps.  Signs were there in round one.  That win over a young Ranger team that had zero offense yet still played two overtime games and lost one on a fluke would have had me worried as a capital fan of what was coming.....

Since: Apr 9, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 3:19 pm

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

Hey man, no need to explain yourself. These writers come off as they know everything when in reality they really dont have a clue what they are talking about and just spew a bunch of crap out of their backside!

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2011 11:53 am

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

JBoth8771, Sometimes a shakeup is needed. I don't think that Boudreau lost control of his locker room. But, I do think that he brought out all he could get out of his players. You, being a Pens fan, can see the logic in that. After a Stanley Cup run, Michel Therrien was replaced by Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh during a struggling stretch, and look at the result..... the Pens won the Cup. I don't think Boudreau is a bad coach. I think that he wouldn't have trouble finding a gig if he was given the axe. But, I think he took the Capitals as far as he can take them, and the team would benefit from some new blood behind the bench.

Since: Jul 4, 2007
Posted on: May 5, 2011 11:38 am

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

Once again this shows Perez's hatred for Bruce. If Boudreau would have been fired in december, the Capitals would never have gotten out of their early season funk, and they wouldnt have made the palyoffs. It funny how everybody forgets Bruce changed the gameplay of this team midseason , and it paid dividends. Bruce got them to the playoffs. The Caps are talented, but they werent playing good hockey. Bruce changed them to a defensive team, and it worked . sure there were growing pains, but that is beside the point. They bounced back and claimed the #1 seed for the second straight season. To me, that sound like a hell of a coach. Perez, please be aware that Boudreau is not to blame for the playoffs. Who gave up 5 goals last night? Heres a hint: It wasnt Bruce. Perez, please contact me so I can school you in anything related to hockey. You are an ignorant sports writer.

Anyways, I tip my hat to the Bolts for sweeping a bunch of chronic under-achievers. Very well played series for the Bolts.

Since: May 5, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:19 am

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

I'm a pens fan, so you would think i'd read an article about the caps and either not care or immediatley agree with the opposite side.  Hard to do when you read stuff like this.  Boudreau has done a great job for the caps in his time there.  He hasn't lost the locker room, his team mastered a new system, and even after that losing streak, they bounced back and won the conference.  I could place blame a lot of places if i were a caps fan, the coach wouldnt be one of them.  Weak defense in front of the net, players taking bad line changes and penalties, Semin and Backstrom going AWOL just to name a few.  Boudreau will keep his job, hopefully this guy will not.....

Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 9:48 am

Capitals' season lost by inaction in December

There is literally no way to justify this article.  Honestly, A.J. Perez has something agianst the Caps in general, which is fine, but the logic behind this argument is appaling.  
How can you try to say now, after the Caps rallied to get the #1 seed in the conference, that it was Bruce's/GMGM's fault?   It makes absolutely no sense.  The Caps changed the makeup of their gameplan (something that can take teams entire years to master) and went on to have the most points in the conference.  And yet, if they fired him in December, they would have had a better chance on winning?  Isn't it 100x more likely that if they fired Bruce, they may not have made the Playoffs at all?  Or they simply would have limped in?  
There are a lot of writers I question on Sportsline, but A.J. Perez just jumped to the top of the list.  In terms of writing with purpose and making a point, this article is an abomination.  Please get rid of him.

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