Caps Squander Chance To Win Series

April 22, 2012 | Ed Frankovic

It was all there for the taking for the Washington Capitals on Sunday. They had a 3-2 series lead against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and a chance to close them out in their own building.

And they blew it. Again.

Life as a Caps fan seems to be a never ending run of crushing defeats so why should 2012 be any different, right? That has to be what Capitals fans were thinking as they were filing out of the Verizon Center after the Bruins Tyler Seguin scored just over three minutes into overtime following a horrible attempted long pass up the middle of the ice by Nicklas Backstrom that was intercepted and turned around quickly on Washington. Seguin split Dennis Wideman and Roman Hamrlik, faked out goalie Braden Holtby (27 saves) one on one, then deposited the biscuit behind #70 to add yet another horrifying chapter to a book that could be distributed to many Capitals fans in this area and titled, “My Life in Pain as a Caps Fan.”

About the only good news out of this crushing loss is there is still yet another contest to be played in Beantown on Wednesday night. But does anyone who has followed this team long term or even since the creation of the “Young Guns” feel like they will find a way to win? There probably aren’t a lot of takers given the black cloud that seems to follow this franchise around come each April and May.

So why did they fail to capitalize on a golden opportunity to win a series that has been ultra close for all six games (in fact, this is the first NHL series ever to go six games with each featuring one goal victories)?

To me, the focus has to be on the Young Guns. Let’s start with Backstrom, who made some super plays, like the setup of Jason Chimera for Washington’s second goal or the face-off win that allowed Alexander Ovechkin to tie the game with 4:52 to go in regulation. However, it was #19’s low probability feed to Marcus Johansson that utimately ended this one and the Young Swede who missed 40 regular season games due to a concussion probably doesn’t feel too good about his lack of backchecking on the Boston third goal. That tally was set up by an Alexander Semin turnover in the offensive zone after #28 tried to be too cute with the puck. Semin has been really good in this series but today he was below average. He took a bad penalty that led to the Bruins first goal and only their second power play goal of the series (now 2 for 20). He was -2 and did not register a point. Ovechkin scored the big tying tally but overall he looks out of sync. The Gr8 is trying to do too much himself and his defensive zone play still needs massive amounts of work. In addition, his performance on the point on the power play, which went 0 for 4 today, was less than stellar. About the only one of the four that had an okay game was Mike Green, who scored his first goal since October to tie the game up at one in the opening frame. But #52 only played 17 minutes, including not being put out on the first power play unit.

Instead of Green, the team is using Wideman on the right point and #6 didn’t do much good in over six minutes of power play time. In fact the first unit of Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Keith Aucoin and Wideman needs to be blown up. There is not enough net presence with those five. I’d much prefer Ovechkin be moved on the half wall (of course I’ve been saying this for two years) with #19 on the other wall. Get Brooks Laich out in front or someone who will create traffic on Tim Thomas (36 saves) there. Finally, put Green back on the point and I’d even prefer John Carlson as the other blue liner instead of Wideman.

Playoff games are often won or lost via special teams and Boston was +1 in that department today. For the series, the Caps are 3 for 18 (16.7%) with the man advantage while they are 18 for 20 (90%) on the penalty kill. Game seven will likely be decided by special teams so it is paramount that Washington focus their efforts on those units in Tuesday’s practice.

Another thing Washington must do in game seven is to limit turnovers while staying out of the penalty box. Troy Brouwer’s decision to muck it up with Benoit Pouliot late in period two ended up putting the Caps in a 4 on 4 situation that quickly became a Boston 4 on 3. Somehow the Caps survived Zdeno Chara’s big shot in that instance but they may not be as lucky on Wednesday. Discipline is a big key for the Caps to have any chance.

So we move once again to a decisive game seven where the Caps overall franchise record is 2-7. They are 2-6 at home with the one away loss coming in Pittsburgh in 1995. Therefore, maybe since this one is on the road they may stand a better chance? After all, there is less pressure on the visitors and they don’t have ticket requests and distractions to deal with. They just have to show up and play hockey.

Show up and play hockey is exactly what they must do. They made too many mistakes on Sunday in a one goal loss, so if they clean up their act and the Young Guns perform at the level they are capable of, then anything can happen.

If they don’t, then we may have seen the end of the Young Guns along with some other big changes.

Notes: Defensemen Karl Alzner led the Caps in ice time with 24:21…because John Erskine only played 8 minutes and change, the Caps went mostly with five defensemen and that messes up the rotation…kind of hard to do this at this point, but perhaps Dmitry Orlov should get a sweater for game seven? He is more mobile than both Erskine and Jeff Schultz…Mike Knuble was +1 in only 5:58 of ice time but it was his work in front that allowed Green to score his goal. Seems like #22 has earned more minutes, no?


5 Comments For This Post

  1. eric s Says:

    they gave it away,so many scoring chances and they didnt bury them.ovie missed an open net,mojo didnt score on a perfect pass from semin and they also had many other chances trickle wide.holtby played ok today but he’s not playing like he did in the first few games.i liked the pace and style the caps played today,they looked liked the real capitals out just wasnt meant to be,again.
    win in boston and this game will be forgotten.

  2. eric Says:

    No point in even playing Wed. This cursed, choking dog franchise will either choke it away late or get blown out like Game 7 against Pitt. Changes if I’m the owner/GM: first get a new GM. Then that guy’s priorites: let all our FA’s walk. Find a way to get rid of Schultz. Trade Neuvirth. Sign Parise. Sign a vet backup goalie. Pay Kuzentsov the rookie max to be the 2nd line center. Listen to offers for MarJo(too soft). Maybe package our 2 #1’s to move up or trade one of the #1’s plus either Neuvirth or MarJo to get impact player. If Coyotes move and Tippett quits give him a blank check otherwise keep Hunter. My prediction: most of this won’t happen. Leonsis stupidly keeps GMGM who continues to put a roster full of wussy puck movers on defense and fails once again to find a 2nd line Center with Kuz telling him he doesn’t want to play for loser organization. Is it Ravens season yet?

  3. barnyard Says:

    Shame, too bad but that was the Caps best shot, that was their Stanley cup & they couldn’t get it done. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big letdown come Wednesday & have them blown out. They had the game, the momenteum & were playing @ home. Now it back to bean town it’s over. If thery had dialed it up during the regular season like this series, they would never have been seeded where they are.

  4. FRANCHISE Says:

    Keep The Faith Cap Fans…..Still need to win 4 games to advance in a best of 7 series….BEAT BOSTON!!!


    All Flyered Up with Peter Laviolette

  5. JP Says:

    Giving Acoin and Wideman those kinds of minutes on the power play over Semin and Green is just poor coaching. Wideman’s been awful for the last two months and while I like Acoin for spot duty here and there, he’s not a player that rates the kind of times he’s been given. Wideman’s defensive lapses could be mitigated if he was on the scoreboard in any meaningful way, but he’s been a huge bust this series. Given all that, Orlov not playing has been a travesty. I realize you’re a big fan of Hunter, but you’ve got to admit his player/personnel decisions are baffling.

    (Note from Ed: Asst Coach Dean Evason is in charge of the power play, that was the case under Boudreau as well. I also think Ovechkin has a lot of input, probably too much. Hunts defers to Jim Johnson on the defense. Both of these topics are kind of like playing calling on offense and defense in football. We may not like the play calls of Cam Cameron or the def coordinator but typically the head coach defers to those guys. When it goes bad, it falls on the head coach to change it. So Harbaugh takes some of the blame when those guys mess up just like Hunter takes his share of the blame when his guys make the wrong move. If the Caps lose this series, based on the first 6 games I am putting that on the power play. If that thing was better, this series is over. There is no excuse for it to be so inconsistent with so much talent.)

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