An Ovy-Centric Look At The Capitals ChernobylShareThis
Finger pointing and blame.
It rarely happens immediately or directly after monumental sports failures, instead, it slowly leaks into the tone of the dressing room dissidents as time distances them from the actual collapse.
To their credit, the Capitals endured the interviews following the loss and said the right things. Really, what are you supposed to say? You give credit to your opponent, express disbelief at your failure, and try to make some sense of what happened, just moments after it occurred.
“Mrs. Smith, You just found out your husbands leaving you for a younger woman, what went wrong in your marriage?”
But somebody’s to blame. And we’ll find out who they chose to pin it on with their off season summer moves. Which starts today.
Hey, maybe they’ll trade for Carey Price.
The Montreal Canadiens – they of the lowest point total in the playoffs (88, 33 less than the high-flying Caps), Kiebler elf forwards, and mid-season goalie controversies – deserve some freakin’ respect for what they just accomplished. Congrats, fellas.
They played smothering team defense, blocked the shit out of a kabillion shots, and scored just enough goals to win (my favourite point about Marc-Andre Bergeron’s offensive role was a retweet by Bob McKenzie of a Mike Mckenna tweet: “MA Bergeron is like a field goal kicker. Waits on bench til needed (PP). Does his biz, back on bench.” LOVE that tweet.)
Before I carry on with my look back at the series (and game seven), I’ll get it out of the way: I was wrong (last year I picked the Caps to win in “three” games too – AKA an easy sweep – and they won that one in seven. Yikes). And further credit-giving: for an upset to happen, you need great goaltending – Halak was obviously the biggest reason this happened.
Now, what to take from this Capitals loss….
Washington is the first team I can ever remember watching that’s worse when they try harder.
In regular season contests where they don’t care to put themselves out too much, they let the puck do the work. They dish to whichever uber-talented linemate is the most open, and they seem to be entertaining themselves like a cat with string by playing keep-away from their opponent.
This was a totally different Capitals team. When they needed offense, a huge red flag was the way they switched to “don’t worry, I got this” mode. To not be able to identify and rectify this problem is a look at the lack of leadership coming from inside that dressing room, which is on both Boudreau and Ovechkin. If your captain is the first guy opting out of the team’s tic-tac-toe-n-go style that got you this far when the going gets tough, you can’t expect your other young gunners to do anything different than the same thing.
Ovy is their leader, there’s no doubt about it. Like it or not. So when he leads the wrong way – by switching to blinders-on one-man-mode – you’re on the path to a disaster FEMA couldn’t clean up (so, um, your standard disaster, then).
If any good came of this, it’s that the Crosby/Ovechkin debate is over, for at least the next year. It’s early in Ovechkin’s career, and he can fix this the way Kobe Bryant realized there’s an easier way to win than taking it all on himself. Ovy may have scored as many round one goals as Sidney (5), but Crosby made every person in a Penguin’s sweater better, tacking NINE assists on to that total.
I’m a little nervous about how this is going to affect the Great Eight, one of the games most charismatic stars, and a guy who’s clearly getting increasingly agitated with reporters and fans. There’s been hints of child-star-growing-up style acting out over this season. God help us if he gets angry and decides to play more physical next year.
All I know is, the Canadiens have no captain, which in this series was better than having one lead them in the wrong direction.
Couple other non-Ovy based thoughts:
*Poor NBC and Versus today. You know they’re totally blue-balled by the Washington/Pittsburgh series that could have been. It seemed inevitable. They were so close. And then…. c***blocked by Montreal.
*Number 8-seeds beat number 1-seeds in the NHL so often I’m starting to wonder if this is a good thing for the NHL. Don’t get me wrong - upsets are awesome. But it halfway voids my interest in the regular season. 2-seed, 4-seed, 6-seed, whatever, just get in. The best teams are still the best teams regardless where they finish, and this year they came into the playoffs as an Eastern Conference 4-seed, and a Western Conference 5-seed.
Can you imagine when the Sharks and Capitals are going at it for the Presidents Trophy next year (Sharks won’t be, but whatever) how little you’ll care? I need a job here, so I’ll pretend it’s “an epic finish for the one seed” or whatever hyperbole I’ll write, but whatever. JUST MAKE PLAYOFFS!
*I’ve mentioned before, the best coach I’ve ever had was Davis Payne, for his ability to make in-game adjustments. I’ve lost a playoff series with a different coach because we “weren’t worried about them” and stuck to a “our game plan”, which was, incidentally, horrible. Boudreau…. did you just maybe kinda possibly get (badly) out-coached?
*And last, the obligatory Semin comment: He’s a 40-goal guy who played like a complete bag of marshmallows in playoffs. How has that regular-season-stud-stuff panned out for San Jose? The Capitals NEED a goalie, the way Philly has been good enough to contend for a Cup but has refused to acknowledge their goaltending deficiency for the past decade. Bye-bye Semin, hello legitimate starting goalie. Make that trade. This team has more than enough offense to win. You should be able to get a legit starter for less than what you pay Semin, so put that towards re-signing Backstrom.
And just like that, on to round two, my friends of the blog. Awesome stuff.
I went 5-3 in round one predictions, which is a well-below-average performance. I’ll try to get series previews up ASAP, and I’ll try not to embarrass myself this time!