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Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Line change: Who should lead the attitude change?

By Washington Post sports editors

On Wednesday, we asked readers whether they thought the Capitals needed to make a significant personnel move before the trade deadline in order to snap out of their doldrums. Opinions varied, but one prevailing sentiment seemed to be that the Caps' main issue is less with personnel and more with unenergetic play.

Part of that may be attributed to a style shift -- a wide-open attack is going to appear at first blush to be "more energetic" than a more conservative, defense-first approach -- but whatever the source, questions will persist until the victories arrive.

fanohock1 expressed the prevailing sentiment of readers: "I agree with everyone saying something is jacked up with the team. They simply do not believe. I don't know if it is BB they don't believe in, or if they have just completely lost their confidence. They do look like they are in total disarray."

So whose responsibility should it be to flip that switch in the Capitals' locker room? The two natural possibilities are the coach and the captain, and certain readers of this blog found fault with each.

Gonchpup yesterday put the onus squarely on the shoulders of the man wearing the 'C': "I think the D personnel is fine. Maybe not the tough, nasty type some would prefer to see, but they are getting the job done. Still need to improve on not giving up the odd-man rushes, but a vast improvement over last year. Same with the PK. Fix what needs to be fixed. The talent is here but the desire is not. Ovie is the catalyst but it's just not taking hold. Though not nearly as talented, Chris Clark was a much better Capt. - didn't see him skipping practices and played hurt most of his last 2 years here. A captain needs to SHOW character... not BE one."

Meantime, yesisaiditfirst was equally direct in another direction: "It's the same coach as the last 3 years - I think its the players not all giving their all. Play is sporadic at best. Some guys come out and dominate and then the next shift pull out a lame effort....fix that. Thing is BB will always point out 12 games above .500 and many teams like to trade places with us - but most of these guys are not playing hard all the time."

So with a key game coming up Friday night, who is mainly responsible for making sure the Capitals are ready to play their best?

By Washington Post sports editors  | February 3, 2011; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau  
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Next: Alexander Semin's status uncertain against Tampa Bay

Comments

I believe paper bags should be handed out to these commenters so they can breathe into them until the normal oxygen levels return to their brain.

The team doesn't have a "problem". Sure, they aren't winning all the time, but they are still going to the playoffs. What's the issue? Well, first, the team is using a new system (essentially a trap) that they believe will work better in the playoffs. We'll see if it does. We know the team's playoff performances the last few years with the previous system has been disappointing. So, the "build for the playoff" meme may mean some defensive breakdowns, scoring declines, etc.

Second, this team, while they want to win, would be right not to care about winning another president's trophy, or a SE division championship. The "build for the playoff" talk rubs off. They will step it up in the playoffs, at least I assume they will. Think back to the years the Red Wings won the Cup with a team full of AARP members. Bowman had them phone it in for most of the regular season and they turned it on at the end. Now, there's risk with this younger team that they won't be able to pull it off, but I say let's not panic until we start losing games in the playoffs.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | February 3, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey

There is no guarantee this club makes the playoffs. Have you looked at the upcoming schedule? They could easily be in 9th place in less than 2 weeks.

And even if they make the playoffs, so what, they cant beat a single team that is currently in the playoffs. They havent done so since the Winter Classic.

Posted by: ThePat | February 3, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

oldtimehockey: Respectfully disagree 100%. The team has a "problem." They are in disarray. And the coach has no answer for what's wrong. That's a problem.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 3, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

heres what I don't get. I have always been coached to believe that penalty kill and defence is about desire, heart and willingness to sacrafice more and want 'it' more then the opposition. Our PK is great so there must be some players with some heart on this team, but when I watch the rest of the game I see many of the guys going through the motions and giving half-hearted effort during their shifts and then try and have 1 or 2 hard shifts. I get that it's a long seasona nd you don't have 'it' some games, but the majority of the team for 2 months. Something is very wrong in the locker room of this team. This team seems indifferent or confilicted about one or all of the following; leadership, coaches, upper mgt, chemistry, individual levels of commitment. Soemthing is not right in caps land.

example:
matt cooke cheap shotted by depietro.
depietro knocked out by Johnny.
You tell me if this would ever happen on the current caps team. Erskine, Hendricks, Brads and Ovi(when he feels like it-which is a major problem) step up for teammates but that is about it. Sack-up men and stop playing like scared teenie boppers.

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | February 3, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

oldtimehockey,

Have you looked at the standings lately? They will be lucky to MAKE the playoffs if they continue to spiral the way they are. And your example of the Wings is ridiculous as those guys were already proven winners in the playoffs, what has this team proven thus far other than they like to golf in late April/early May?

To answer the question posted, the person whose job it is to fix this thing is the new coach that GMGM hires after firing BB after this weekend hopefully.

Posted by: PhilR | February 3, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

heres what I don't get. I have always been coached to believe that penalty kill and defence is about desire, heart and willingness to sacrafice more and want 'it' more then the opposition. Our PK is great so there must be some players with some heart on this team, but when I watch the rest of the game I see many of the guys going through the motions and giving half-hearted effort during their shifts and then try and have 1 or 2 hard shifts. I get that it's a long seasona nd you don't have 'it' some games, but the majority of the team for 2 months. Something is very wrong in the locker room of this team. This team seems indifferent or confilicted about one or all of the following; leadership, coaches, upper mgt, chemistry, individual levels of commitment. Soemthing is not right in caps land.

example:
matt cooke cheap shotted by depietro.
depietro knocked out by Johnny.
You tell me if this would ever happen on the current caps team. Erskine, Hendricks, Brads and Ovi(when he feels like it-which is a major problem) step up for teammates but that is about it. Sack-up men and stop playing like scared teenie boppers.

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | February 3, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Guys, this notion of gradually developing young guys is a foreign concept. Here we bring in talented young guys and immediately throw them to the wolves. Just ask MaJo. Then we criticize them when they don't perform up to expectations."

---

I can't speak for everyone, but I was under the impression that we all thought that Mojo was doing a pretty good job, especially for such a young guy. He's just not a reliable 2C yet (and that's not a knock against him).

Posted by: VTDuffman | February 3, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Problems:

1. Winning got too easy for this team, almost effortless. If you do want to play a more "defensive system" it means a lot more effort needs to be extracted from guys not used to it.

2. Can't get the puck out of the D zone, or into the O zone. Players need to play smarter.

3. Making the playoffs far from guaranteed.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | February 3, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Problems:

1. Winning got too easy for this team, almost effortless. If you do want to play a more "defensive system" it means a lot more effort needs to be extracted from guys not used to it.

2. Can't get the puck out of the D zone, or into the O zone. Players need to play smarter.

3. Making the playoffs far from guaranteed.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | February 3, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

you can say "sack up" all you want. The bottom line is, not all players can just "sack up" and this team is reflective of that. A new coach with an appreciation for more hardnosed hockey could probably get more out of this lineup in that regard. But...it will still take adding 3 or 4 more players to the mix before this lineup plays on the ice the way the Stars, Rags, Pens etc do.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Play the trap...dump and chase...old time hockey...more facewashes and snot-bubbles...

The Cup will find it's way to D.C when they put Erskine up as a fwd on the power play.

Posted by: SA-Town | February 3, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Im gonna be like the Redskins fans and make up something:

I saw Bob Hartley out at Mortons in Tysons last night...it must mean BB is getting fired and he is his replacement.

Posted by: ThePat | February 3, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

yeah, i'm pretty pleased with MaJo's development so far. I think he's better suited to a checking line with wingers like Beags and Hendricks than he is other types of wingers. And when I say "checking" line, I don't mean a defensive-only line. Those guys do a good job at both ends.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

ThePat,

If only that were a true story, don't mess with my emotions like that!

Posted by: PhilR | February 3, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Play the trap...dump and chase...old time hockey...more facewashes and snot-bubbles...

The Cup will find it's way to D.C when they put Erskine up as a fwd on the power play.

Posted by: SA-Town

you don't think the Pens play old time hockey? And you don't think they go to the trap when they need to?

I love how fans can dismiss oldtime hockey like its not in use anymore. Plenty of teams utilize that style. Wake up white people!

jesus. I hope McPhee at least can pick up on those things.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I also have been very pleased with the play of MJ so far.

I would love it if he is the center of the "energy" line in the playoffs with Beagle and Hendricks. They play solid D but can also pot a few goals and are aggressive.

Once MJ starts to develop a shot he will become a good 2nd line center, but I have been very pleased with his play so far.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 3, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd (captain) had a meeting with coach Ramsey about ‘unnamed players’ showing a lack of effort and commitment to winning, which was a consensus with the team.

I'm hearing the same thing from the Caps locker room - divided. Who is going to take charge there?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 3, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"Well, first, the team is using a new system (essentially a trap) "

---

We don't play anything resembling a trap. Please stop perpetuating this lie. It's not only lazy, but wholly inaccurate to characterize every team that emphasizes defense as playing a "trap." A "Trap" is a very specific way to play...

"The neutral zone trap (often referred to as simply the trap) is a defensive strategy used in ice hockey to prevent an opposing team from proceeding through the neutral zone (the area between the blue lines) to force turnovers. The strategy is generally used to level the playing field for teams that are not as offensively talented as their opponents, although the trap can also be used by teams simply looking to protect a lead late in the game."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutral_zone_trap

This is *not* what we do, it's not even close.

Posted by: VTDuffman | February 3, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

It ultimately falls upon the individual to be prepared to play. It doesn't matter if the coach has conservative, defensive system or a free-wheeling, wide open attack in place because if the players do not put a full effort and executes on a consistent basis, then the system doesn't matter. It falls on each individual in the organization to bring their 'A' game. There are many factors in the course of a game that an individual cannot control. But one factor each player has complete autonomy over is their effort.

Posted by: dcox50 | February 3, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Ok so now BB is unsure if Semin is making the trip to TB.

The longer this goes on, he is not hurt. He is being traded and we are waiting for days to go by so either the team he is going to or our team can take on the salary involved in the deal. That is my OPTIMISTIC thought of the day.

Posted by: ThePat | February 3, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Bob Hartley has won a couple of Cups

Calder in '97 with Hershey

Stanley in '01 with Colorado.

Anyone remember who was the last coach to win the SE Division before BB - Bob Hartley with Atlanta '07.

Posted by: puckman | February 3, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I know Timbo ragged on Bob Hartley but for

1) It's wrong to dismiss Hartley's accomplishments just because of the talent level of that Avs team. Plenty of extremely talented teams have suffered 1st round upset.

2) Hartley played a key role in developing the Avs young players who came up from Hershey to help the Avs. Eric Messier, Ville Nieminen, Dan Hinote and a couple others.

I don't think Hartley is a bad coach at all. But like any other coach, he needs to have a competent GM to work with and in CO he had arguably the best GM in hockey.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm hearing the same thing from the Caps locker room - divided. Who is going to take charge there?

Posted by: lylewimbledon


Chimera! He's gonna assert himself because its at HOME!

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

MP has no business playing with the big boys...too small and falls over if a defenseman breaths on him. TRADE anyone to get professionals in here.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 3, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Surely these players are getting sick of the same shortcomings in games. Accentuate the positives yes like better PK but somebody in that room has to be vocal about all the other things...its not the coaches or GMGMs plan...its the players and they all should have enough pride to want to fix it. I wonder what player(s) add that dynamic on the Caps to actually motivate just by speaking their mind.....I think Fedorov was one of those guys when he was there...and he backed it up on the ice in his play.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | February 3, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I think MP is good for about one game every 10 or so. He can come in and he's got some jump and desire in his game. Even apart from his goals, he competed hard against Montreal. That's the type of team you play him against if you do need to play him. He got knocked over hard a couple times, he knocked one guy off the puck and kept the play alive, he's good in small doses. (heard the same thing about myself)

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I shook my head at the resigning of Tom Poti. I shook my head at the resigning of Jeff Schultz.

I don't believe McPhee is watching the same games we are.

Poti is hurt every season with a chronic groin problem. He is a poor bet at 33 to be a better player over the next 2 years than he is right now, but the Caps extended his deal. Why?

Ditto for Schultz. With Carlson and Alzner on the parent club and a chance to make a move or moves for veterans with Cup experience why does the club tie itself to Schultz? At 24, I don't think there is any greater upside. He is what he is. A tall, rangy player who does not handle the blade well, is a below average passer, and does not play a physical game. Compared to Jeff Schultz, John Erskine is an offensive machine. So, what is special about his game?

Last year he was in the top pairing and was on the ice for all the goals scored by Ovechkin, Backstrom and Knuble, occasionally by Semin.

His plus minus was high.

But look at this season. When the offense is not scoring in bunches, it is Carlson and Alzner, guys playing their first full season in the NHL, that are the defensive leaders in plus/minus and are seeing top duty against the opposition's #1 line in the third period.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | February 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

the irony there is, Green's defensive game is getting better and Sarge's is gettin worse. I like Green-Hannan way better. They both have the same tenacious mentality and they feed off each other. Sarge should be a prime candidate to be traded.

But otoh, I don't think his trade value is that high either. The only teams who may be interested in him would be a team lookin to start over with some young D.

Ottawa for ex.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

When the offense is not scoring in bunches, it is Carlson and Alzner, guys playing their first full season in the NHL, that are the defensive leaders in plus/minus and are seeing top duty against the opposition's #1 line in the third period.

Couple Rookies out playing everyone- that pretty much sums all the problems.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 3, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd (captain) had a meeting with coach Ramsey about ‘unnamed players’ showing a lack of effort and commitment to winning, which was a consensus with the team.

I'm hearing the same thing from the Caps locker room - divided. Who is going to take charge there?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 3, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Remember there was an altercation last year between Clark and Green because Green was at practice hungover.

Thats what we need from our captain, light a fire under their butts! To bad our current captain often misses practice and rumor has it parties a little too much.

Posted by: ksaul79 | February 3, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think it is up to Johnny E to take the reins and lead this team to salvation.

Johnny E should step up and put the fear of god into the heads of all the other players knowing that if they fail at anything they will have to deal with the wrath of Johnny E. We all know that no one wants that.

All players will fall in line to avoid be pummeled by Johnny E.

LEAD THIS TEAM TO SALVATION JOHNNY E!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: sgm3 | February 3, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

the only way this team actually moves FORWARD is by taking a step back this season by missing the playoffs. Then you'll see kinds of changes. No more sitting around blaming hot goalies or 5 bad days. McPhee will have nothing and no one to blame except himself. And if he doesn't get canned (which I doubt he will), he'll go out and make a free agent splash (and then pretend that he would have done it all along and it had nothing to do with another disappointing season)

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin

1) Come home early.
2) Don't be drunk when you get home
3) Get a good night sleep
4) SKATE OPTIONAL MORNING SKATE
5) Play awesome!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | February 3, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

If they don't make the Eastern Conference Finals- I think GMGM and BB are gone.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 3, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

too bad Johnny E is a middleweight for the most part and has little interest in fighting. Every yr with the Caps, his fighting totals decrease. Bradley was a more prolific fighter earlier as well. Sutherby became more prolific after he left the Caps. See the trend?

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

If they don't make the Eastern Conference Finals- I think GMGM and BB are gone.

Posted by: lylewimbledon |

not a chance in heck.

I think if they get to the 2nd round McPhee is safe. And BB is 50/50

They'll mark it as progress since its one round deeper. And they'll find another excuse why they lost.

But if they miss the playoffs then BB is definitely gone. McPhee SHOULD be gone but I think Ted doesn't have the ballz to fire him just yet so he'll keep him around and give him one more shot at it.

If we make the playoffs and lose in the 1st round, then all bets are off. If we get blown out or look bad, then BB is gone. I guess either way he may be gone unless they can somehow point to their opponent as being a powerhouse.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I think the Caps should put more pucks in the net than the other teams that they're playing. Yawn.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | February 3, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

OMG, you are the people who raid grocery stores if two snowflakes are spotted. They are in 5th place. Teams 8 and 9 are in the division and we play them a bunch more. We're making the playoffs unless we lose repeatedly to Atlanta and Carolina, in which case, we probably shouldn't make the playoffs. If we beat them and don't make the playoffs, I'll eat my Caps jersey. You can all film it at put it on You Tube.

The team gets up for games they need to. Winter Classic? Tampa Bay? (Where they lost, but played well against Rolo who's on fire), etc. Sure they lose the shootouts a fair amount, but lean closer and I'll tell you a secret: There are no shootouts in the playoffs.

The only game I assure you they will lose is the game next weekend against my Kings. ;)

Posted by: oldtimehockey | February 3, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

i think 'oldtimehockey' needs to relinquish his handle immediately. all in favor

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. Ovechkin needs to do more to spark this team. His game-high 4 hits (1 really big one and 1 or 2 other good ones) plus 1 takeaway aren't enough. We need a captain like Laich who changes a game with zero hits and takeaways and adds in 3 penalties, one right after an momentum changing hit by the current captain which put the Caps on a powerplay.

Yeah, Ovechkin needs to do more, like go to practice with these bums.

Posted by: makplan20002 | February 3, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1 -I agree. Plus they're a Kings fan. They couldn't even win the Cup with Gretzky on the team.

Oh wait, they had Melrose as a coach that year. Never mind, that explains everything.

Posted by: jwash4472 | February 3, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Too bad the momentum-changing hits are so few and far between. And they're usually in response to a hit just put on him.

Ovechkin's playing like an old man out there. At least by his standards. Night and difference from his first 2 seasons to how he is now. I figured with time and growth he would just get better every year and more fearsome. Defensemen don't even have to keep their heads up anymore when he's on the ice. They used to have to change the way they played when #8 was out there.

I don't think he's a bad captain but I also was never in favor of him being the captain. I think he played better when someone else was the captain, like Clark.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

ftr, i don't think Laich should be the captain either. They need an outside presence via trade to take that role. The Caps really got a boost when they brought in Dale and later Mark Tinordi. I'm pretty sure Dale was the captain right after he arrived in Washington. And Tinordi got some kind of captaincy after he arrived as well.

The Leafs didn't have anyone resembling captain material but they were able to fill their void with the Phaneuf trade. We need something similar. It doesn't have to be the perfect player and Phaneuf is under a huge microscope in Toronto. But something similar to that would be nice.

That's why we need to acquire guys like Fisher/Neil or Regehr/Giordano. Tough hardnosed played who have varying degrees of skill and experience who don't mind games against tough opponents and who know exactly when to throw a big hit or get into a scrap or other lead-by-example examples. You'll see Mike Richards skating around doing his thing, but when his team needs a momentum change he'll blow across ice and devastate someone.

Ovechkin just needs to get some pressure off him and work on his game, let someone else take the captaincy.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

But...it will still take adding 3 or 4 more players to the mix before this lineup plays on the ice the way the Stars, Rags, Pens etc do.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 3, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

==========================================

I disagree somewhat. I think they need to get healthy and add 1 or 2 additional 2nd line players. i believe one of the Caps primary problems right now is that they have way too many 3rd to 4th line guys. I would also trade 1 or 2 of them before the deadline even if it meant low round draft picks in return.

Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | February 3, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey

For starters, our season series with the Thrash is over. They took it 4-2. We have 18 road games out of our final 30. Also out of that 30 are 14 games against teams in the top 8 of their respective conference. So far in 2011 the Caps are about 1-3-4 against quality opponents. They are 5th in a conference with playoff-aspiring 6th - 11th ranked teams. All of those teams but FLA have a better record in their last 10 games. We sandwiched the all star break between a loss to the 8 seed and an OTL to the 6 seed.

That said, no, it is not safe to say that the Caps will make the playoffs. If they keep playing the way they have been since the WC they will watch the playoffs from their couches. Something needs to happen to change this team's level of play, and I mean something bigger than BB shuffling the lines.

I assume you are a female and will lighten up now. But this team needs to recognize that it has to figure out how to play this game and win starting yesterday.

I am all for a coaching change or BIG trade to give this team the jolt that they need.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | February 3, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

These guys just seem clueless, and tentative.

Every time they dumped the puck into the offensive zone, all the did was cycle the puck around, down low, back out to the point, back behind the net. Fine. But the idea is to get scoring chances, and one thing the Caps never really seemed to have in the 2nd and 3rd periods against Montreal is QUALITY scoring chances.

They still tend to look for the pretty play (Carlson dumping the puck right to a waiting Gianta), rather than taking the shot. And the shots they take are dead center into the net.

Most of the time, it looks like they're not playing with heart. And that is definitely a coaching problem.

Also, I mentioned this once before, but ever since Ovie got clobbered by the league last year for the hit against the Blackhawk player, he just hasn't been the same. He doesn't look like he's having fun out there, and the last thing I remember from the game before the All Star break was wathing Ovie with his head buried in his arm on the bench. The guy looked beaten and depressed.

I'll simply chime in an add that I think everyone that disagrees with oldtimehockey is right on the money. There is no guarantee the Caps will make the playoffs this year at this rate, and there is no light switch they can simply turn on. Bad habits die hard. Even if this team happens to make the playoffs, it's going to be deja vu all over again.

Maybe a play from the 2008 Penguins playbook is in order? They did win the Stanley Cup that year, after all.

Posted by: Ve1ostrummer | February 3, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Winning attitudes come from the top down, in all organisations. The people who have the hands-on job of motivating the players and keeping them focused are Boudreau and -- to some extent -- Ovechkin. But they aren't well suited to perform that task because they were put into place by an owner and general manager whose attitude is "we want to be good for several years and if we are, we don't care if we're ever great".

When that's your mentality, you don't employ people who are winners. Because you know winners have no patience with that kind of attitude. That's why I have little hope that Leonsis or McPhee will insist on hiring personnel with a real sense of urgency. Winning a championship is not their priority. Until that changes, the Capitals will never fire "the easiest coach to play for" and the team will never be anything special.

Posted by: fanzee71 | February 3, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Regarding yesisaiditfirst's comments...

The team is NOT 12 games over .500. It is 2 games over .500.

I hate the way the nhl parses out the OTLs because it allows people to spin the team's record as something better than it is. The Caps are 27-25 -- essentially a flat .500 team. And that's being kind really. Since November 24, they are 13-17, 4 games below .500 -- and that stretch began with a 4-game win streak!

Posted by: fanzee71 | February 3, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1, I think the biggest argument to support what you're saying about needing someone from outside to be captain is that it's hard to imagine anyone on this team having any real problem with an outsider coming in and being awarded the "C" right away.

Boy, how telling is that? I mean, I know we're not there but from what we do see, is there really anyone you can think of who'd seriously have a problem with it? Man.

Posted by: fanzee71 | February 3, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

If there is one thing I don't believe, it's that Ovie is dogging it.

He goes out every shift and plays his heart out.

Posted by: digster1013 | February 3, 2011 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the number of posters talking about lack of effort or spirit or something that implies if people just believed or tried harder it would all work out.

1. Power Play since about the last 2 months of last year has been terrible. That has major implications. Teams don't hesitate to clutch and grab (or worse) b/c they know they won't get hurt. And that's really bad news for a team with some speed and a lot of skill. No power play = struggle to win for this team.

2. No tactical answers. The last month of the last regular season, the Caps were unimpressive. The conventional wisdom at the time was that they had nothing to play for so they coasted and sought to avoid injuries. What we now know is that by then and especially with Montreal, teams began to try different tactics against both Ovechkin and the team as a hole. And the caps and Boudreau have yet to come up with adjustments that consistently beat those tactics. So they're struggling.

3. No second line. Lots of good stats by the second line last year. Until the playoffs where they disappeared. And that problem has continued this season.

The Caps have some nice talent but the league has adjusted and the team has not found a way to compensate for that. The trapping scheme is one approach--we'll see how it works in the playoffs. But they shouldn't be struggling to score like they are: that's a function of the team being very dependent on Ovie (who has yet to come up with answers), the power play failure and the 2nd line sputtering. Put it all together and you have a team that isn't very impressive if they play a team that knows how to respond to them tactically.

Posted by: JoeW1 | February 3, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Other than the obvious( 8,19,and 28),name me 3 of the 11 remaining forwards that could play top 6 on any other team that has a legitimate chance at winning the Cup....the silence is deafening,because the answer is also obvious.....NONE. We don't have a SECOND line,period,thanks to GMGM not signing a second line center,trading Flash,and finding a wing to go with them.Say goodbye to BB and GMGM if they don't win the Cup....PERIOD.

Posted by: roccky | February 3, 2011 8:54 PM | Report abuse

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