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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/14/2011

On Hockey: No excuses for uninspired play from Capitals' stars

By Tarik El-Bashir
Tarik El-Bashir

There was plenty of talk Saturday afternoon about a "switch" and whether Washington finally was ready to flip it. But after watching the Kings cruise to a way-too-easy, 4-1 victory, I was left wondering if the Capitals are engaged enough to reach for it.

I wasn't alone. Coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout late in the third period and challenged the bench during a profanity-laced tirade. He sprinkled words like "pride," "passion" and "emotion" between others that can't be repeated on a family newspaper's blog.

Boudreau didn't name names after the game. But it didn't take much imagination to figure out that he was referring to the Young Guns when he said, "It's our top guys. When you're scoring one goal a game, one-and-a-half goals a game, that has nothing to do with the system, no matter what anyone is thinking out there. It's because you're not paying the price to do the little things to get goals."

Indeed, a skill-laden roster captained by Alex Ovechkin and boasting names such as Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin shouldn't have the 19th ranked offense or 20th best power play. Nor should it trail in the Southeast Division by five points or sit tied with injury-plagued Montreal for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. And it definitely shouldn't get humbled by a middle-of-the-pack, Western Conference opponent playing almost 3,000 miles -- and three times zones -- from home.

Unacceptable. But not a complete shock, either. The Capitals' best players have underachieved dating to the team's first-round loss to the Habs last April.

Ovechkin scored a vintage goal on his team's first shot against the Kings, rifling the puck through defender Drew Doughty and past an unsuspecting Jonathan Bernier. Last season, it might have signaled the start of an Ovechkin-fueled onslaught. But not Saturday. He mustered only one more shot on goal the rest of the game.

With 21 goals in 56 contests, the former two-time MVP has only three multi-goal efforts this season and just one since Oct. 30. Ovechkin is on pace for 30 goals, almost 24 below his career average, and has only three power-play goals. By my count, there were 128 players with more on Monday morning.

Backstrom has 14 goals and 36 assists and isn't likely to approach the 101 points that earned him a 10-year, $67 million contract last May. Last season, he had 13 games with three or more points. This season he's got four.

Green, meantime, certainly has been more reliable in his own end. But, to me, he also seems to be caught between the player who ignited the Capitals' offense from the back end the past two seasons and the player he think his critics wants him to be. So he's got 24 points after back-to-back campaigns of 76 and 73, respectively.

As for Semin and Brooks Laich, Boudreau had seen enough of them by the third period Saturday. The time on ice report shows that neither left the bench again after the Kings scored with 6 minutes 4 seconds remaining and hundreds of disgusted fans began to stream toward the exits.

"In the end, our best players have to be our best players or we're not going to win," Boudreau said. "It's good to send a message and take ice time away, but you can't do it on a consistent basis. You have to do it and hope they get it."

You can blame the defensive system Boudreau installed in desperation during the team's eight-game losing streak in December for sapping the life from his offensively-gifted players. You can point at his optional practices or General Manager George McPhee's decision not to get Semin an experienced center in the offseason.

All of those are legitimate concerns. But every time I try to rationalize placing the onus on someone who doesn't lace up his skates every other day, I think of a line from Al Pacino's speech in "Any Given Sunday," the same one the Capitals play on the Jumbotron late in tight games.

"I can't make you do it," Pacino tells his players. "You got to look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes."

Boudreau can't make his stars play with the desire they displayed on a much more consistent basis a season ago. That's got to come from inside the room.

Saturday's players-only, closed-door meeting was step in the right direction. But with a crucial five-game road trip beginning tonight in Phoenix and only 26 contests remaining, the change had better happen soon -- or the only thing getting flipped will be the light switch at the conclusion of another disappointing spring.

By Tarik El-Bashir  | February 14, 2011; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Bruce Boudreau, El-Bashir On Hockey, Mike Green  
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Next: Line change: What will motivate the Caps?

Comments

What he said.

Posted by: Jordan_Kitts | February 14, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Sweet new goat Tarik.

Posted by: jake81 | February 14, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Perfectly put by Tarik. But I would add that it is time for Boudreau to call out players by name and make them publicly accountable. It may not make him their favorite, but he isn't paid to be their friend. Perhaps that will make them mad enough to have some personal pride and work harder and live up to what they are paid. This means you Ovie, Backstrom, Green and Semin. Time to stop wasting the fan's time and our money and get to work.
I can live with working hard and losing, but I can't live with laziness and losing.
The fan base is tired of excuses by all parties involved - get it done or a big change needs to be made on February 28.

Posted by: Roose | February 14, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

It's all Tarik's fault for not covering the team anymore. ;) I bet if Katie had to take leave and Tarik started covering them temporarily they would go on a winning streak.

Posted by: spotter | February 14, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

So your point is what exactly Tarik, that players have to coach themselves? Nobody is playing like the care at all, no one is responding to Bruce at all, and your thought is that Bruce has no role to play in making the team respond. Why do we have him here then? What purpose does the coach serve exactly? I'm sure the same players who produced at such a high level throughout their career can all be blamed equally including the best player in the world. That makes tons of sense. We'll just trade the whole team and Bruce can skate circles himself like he is now. Or w can do what we should have done after the joke of a series against Montreal and can Bruce.

Posted by: ParticipatoryDemocracyNow | February 14, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Slightly off topic--is tonight's game at 10 eastern time (as noted on my caps schedule) or at 8 eastern time?

The leaders need to step it up, and a No. 2 C needs to be acquired--no ifs, ands, or buts.

Posted by: redrocker2 | February 14, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I can't help but think that maybe he is hobbled by some kind of injury and simply not telling anyone. But the captain never complains.

Posted by: ericroks | February 14, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

nhl.com and guide on fios tv reflect 8pm Eastern start on versus.

Posted by: pwaiter | February 14, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

" a skill-laden roster captained by Alex Ovechkin and boasting names such as Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin shouldn't have the 19th ranked offense or 20th best power play"

Hmm, Tarik should start that sentence with BB shouldn't be the coach of those "skill-laden" players because BB can't motivate them!

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | February 14, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

If they tank this trip, BRUCE MUST GO!

Posted by: DCPowerGator | February 14, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

yes, 8pm start, advantage for us that Caps don't have to play at 10pm EST time.

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | February 14, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

As always, Tarik has provided an analysis that cuts right to the meat of the matter. Well put, Tarik. Accountability starts first on the ice. However, I don't think Tarik's article was only blaming the players for the Caps problem (@ParticipatoryDemocracyNow) but instead ADDING that to the debate over the Caps woes. We have certainly have had ample analysis/criticism of the coaches and GM to understand their role. I think there is more than enough blame to pass around, though, and both players and management should be accountable.

Ted, we are waiting.

Posted by: AADCDERM | February 14, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Be ready for a weeks worth of "This roadtrip is really going to bring us together" nonsense. This organization has fallen apart from the top down and until those in charge are held accountable nothing will change. Early tee times in April.

Posted by: bukaki23 | February 14, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

If they tank this trip, BRUCE MUST GO!

Posted by: DCPowerGator | February 14, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Again and again

2007-2008 LHJMQ stats


1-C-Perreault, Mathieu Bat

gp G A PTS PiM +/- PPG SHG WG

65 34 80 114 61 33 9 4 6


TG SH SH% FO WF% GH

0 245 13.9 1365 58.80 37

2-RW-Giroux, Claude Gat

55 38 68 106 37 40 8 6 8

0 172 22.1 934 54.20 53

3-C-Paré, Francis Chi

69 54 48 102 54 41 12 7 5

0 315 17.1 1418 57.80 13

4-RW Voracek, Jakub Hal

53 33 68 101 42 21 6 0 4

0 222 14.9 5 0.00 29


Please be patient...


2 much hater here.

nuff said'

Posted by: Presbyter | February 14, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

if #21 gets his minutes reduced, why not #8?

Posted by: doughless | February 14, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Bruce should have been GONE long before this road trip! And I have no confidence that if they tank this road trip that he will be gone...

Posted by: Thisistheyear | February 14, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Again and again

2007-2008 LHJMQ stats


1-C-Perreault, Mathieu Bat

gp G A PTS PiM +/- PPG SHG WG

65 34 80 114 61 33 9 4 6


TG SH SH% FO WF% GH

0 245 13.9 1365 58.80 37

2-RW-Giroux, Claude Gat

55 38 68 106 37 40 8 6 8

0 172 22.1 934 54.20 53

3-C-Paré, Francis Chi

69 54 48 102 54 41 12 7 5

0 315 17.1 1418 57.80 13

4-RW Voracek, Jakub Hal

53 33 68 101 42 21 6 0 4

0 222 14.9 5 0.00 29


Please be patient...


2 much hater here.

nuff said'

Posted by: Presbyter | February 14, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Fehr is taking the morning skate and has been cleared for contact. Not sure if he is returning tonight though. Ovi and Semin are taking their option and not on the ice. Please for the love of god, no one complain about it. A lot of you have beaten it to death.

Posted by: ThePat | February 14, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

depending on what happens over this road trip, Friday, february 25 may be an interesting night at the Phone Booth.

Posted by: doughless | February 14, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"Hmm, Tarik should start that sentence with BB shouldn't be the coach of those "skill-laden" players because BB can't motivate them!"

I can't get away from the fact that these men are playing a game which any one of us would kill to play for a living. Yet they need to be motivated! How can anyone say that with a straight face. If they don't have the pride and drive to do their best then they should be dropped. That goes for all players - imagine if someone offered you a million dollars to play a game you are supposed to love and not ask you to do anything but prepare your body physically to play and then play - for only at most 8 months. They are a disgrace. The teams of the 80's and 90's may not have had the success last years team did in the regular seasion but they all tried their hardest. If you doubt it ask May and Locker.

Posted by: OldCapCenter | February 14, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

if memory is correct, it took 2 games of fans yelling "Fire Hanlon."

Posted by: doughless | February 14, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Neither 8 nor 19 is having a good season by their standards but they're not the biggest problems on this team.

The problem is 19 is the only legit two-way center iceman on this team and whose fault is that?

Did GMGM or anyone else really think they could win it all with two rookies playing 2C & 3C???

Posted by: joek443 | February 14, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@doughless:

I was surprised no one was yelling "Fire Boudreau" at the VC on Saturday.

Posted by: Thisistheyear | February 14, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the statement that there has to be accountability with the players, I just haven't seen any signs that Bruce is capable of holding them accountable with any effectiveness. Good guy, too bad, but this team fails to inspire even itself.

Posted by: ParticipatoryDemocracyNow | February 14, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

@joek

No GMGM didnt think so. He thought he'd have been able to pull off a trade by now. He's in the same situation as normal. Overvaluing some of the talent that needs to be shipped out. In another week he is going to have no choice.

Posted by: ThePat | February 14, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Great job Tarik. I like Katie alot but you are more critical and journalistic. She has gotten a heck of lot better though.

Posted by: pkme | February 14, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

@ Thisistheyear

I for one think that Saturday was not BB fault. Way call for his firing???? Makes no sense. Start at the top ........... time for people to think about this, how many coaches do we go through before the music stops and the only one with out a chair is GMGM.

When the music is over turn out the lights and meet us on the first tee Sunday April 10 cause our season is over on the 9th

Posted by: bqts | February 14, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Tarik. Great column, got right to the heart of the matter.
I think the "Young Guns" are the "Rich Young Guns". Maybe if I was early 20's and had money to burn, my thoughts would be more on girls and fun than on hockey. However they get paid a ton of money to play a sport, they should be accountable. Perhaps if the team had a few more veterans such as Knuble, the younger guys would be expected to behave with some discipline. Maybe Ovi as Captain was a bad idea, too young, like putting John Belushi's character from "Animal House" as President of the student council!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 14, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Do you know that in the last three years... the caps are one of the best teams (Record wise) under Budreau ?? iti s because they have been consistent. So they have had a bad patch this year... I think too much emphasis has been Stanley Cup of nothing. yes, this team is LOADED adn we have proven that the system (Coach)works.... When you have thebest player in Hockey doing half of what his season avg is... another up and coming star under performing.... firing the coach is not the issue or sending a message. these kids need to be held accountable and put to the fire.. what if they fire Budreau now and whoever replaces him comes in and they tank worse.... was it really his fault ?? No, he was just someone to blame.. then you go after the players. They are still sitting 5th right now and still clawing their way for the Division... What needs to happen is Captains to start acting like captains... which means, dont be boozing and clubbing a night before a afteroon puck drop! I have stated before that Ovie does not look like Ovie from years past.. idont see the hunger... I see the same moves over and over again... I think the rest of the NHL has caught on and has scouted him perfectly.... it does show if you really look at the games. Keep pushing for the playoffs.. that should be goal #1. When you get there..work on winning ONE game at a time!

Posted by: rvanags | February 14, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@bqts:

I think the entire season is BB's fault - not holding players accountable, not creating a system that would allow for the team's offensive talents yet be more defensive, re-design the power play which has been abysmal for most of the season. I think he has gotten the Caps only so far and they need a more experienced, seasoned coach, one with at least one SC ring on his finger, who isn't a "players coach" and will hold everyone accountable, especially the stars. Look what Lemaire did with the Devils - the turnaround is extraordinary. I wouldn't be surprised to see NJD grab the 8 spot in the East, a point ahead of the Caps.

Posted by: Thisistheyear | February 14, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Plain and simple BB has lost this team. You can try and explain it away but you can't. He's not a bad coach, he's a very good coach but he has to go. He has lost this team and if we have any hope of going far in the playoffs he needs to go. You could bring in an average coach now and he'll do a better job b/c he's lost the team. They aren't listening anymore. His words are motivating anymore. They hear his voice and it goes in 1 ear and out the other. This team needs a huge kick in the pants and getting a new coach would do it.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | February 14, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I heard BB enrolled his kids in school out there in Phoenix.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | February 14, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

They've been going through the motions since Thanksgiving.

Ovie has been totally exposed.
He often doesn't play defense, usually preferring to cherrypick and hang out at the blue line hoping for someone else to feed him the breakaway pass.

Speaking of breakaways, he's broken more sticks than had breakaways this season!

Tickets are too EXPENSIVE to watch the team repeatedly sleepwalk through games.

They need a sparkplug... but who'd be willing to take one or two of our castoffs in a trade at this point?

Fans have a legitimate right to be upset.

Posted by: ninatotenburg | February 14, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

maybe the players arent buying what bb is trying to sell this new defensive system worked great for the devilsback in the day but we dont have a brodur.the coaches have turned a thoroubred into a plow horse

Posted by: choctaw61 | February 14, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I believe this team has taken on the personality of the coach. Last regular season, BB was confident in his status, so the team played looser. By game 6 against Montreal, BB started to panic and this team has played tight ever since.

I don't think most of the losses have been due to lack of effort, but a fear of losing.

Posted by: ablake70 | February 14, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Fire Boudreau" just isn't catchy enough....

"Boudreau must go!" ... now that's MUCH better for chanting...

Posted by: chombie13 | February 14, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

These are professional hockey players and in my opinion they must motivate themselves. As I have stated in previous posts that I do not believe that BB and the Caps can be successful together. Let's face it for the first couple of years the Caps top lines were able to do what they wished and not play defense. They are being asked now to contribute on both ends of the ice which is killing our offense. Sorry to say but BB is out of tricks. In my opinion we need much more of a tactician in place as coach. If GMGM does not realize this then maybe the ownership should that a new management layer is called for while the "young guns" are still young...

Posted by: fiskra | February 14, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70...

Excellent point... they've absolutely taken on the personality of their coach. If you read BB's autobiography he basically admits that as a player he didn't put in the necessary effort off-ice to reach his potential, and he was very stubborn when it came to listening to the advice of his coaches, instead assuming that he had all of the answers himself. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Posted by: chombie13 | February 14, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

If firing Boudreau isn't an option right now, I think they need an experienced centerman to come in that can score and lead by example. Guys like Backstrom and Semin need to be pushed more than they are. Is a guy like Jason Arnott available since the Devils stink this year? Don't know about his character but he would have to be better on the ice than any of the Caps' centermen.

Posted by: jkhanley73 | February 14, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

These are professional hockey players and in my opinion they must motivate themselves.
-----------------------------------------

Ditto.

Once in a while a coach has to kick'em in the butt but he shouldn't have to do it every night or even every week.

If he has to do it every week then you don't have the right kinda players to begin with.

Again whose fault would that be???

Posted by: joek443 | February 14, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Agree with most Tarik, but I must say that he can talk about the top guys and such then have no issues benching Laich and Semin but he benched the wrong guys. Laich scored two big goals against Tampa and Pittsburgh and has routinely battled and gets payed far less. Personally I think he benched Laich to set an example to the rest of the team because he knows Laich won't take it personally and he's in the coaches corner. Semin, well BB has benched him more than I can count and I think he doesn't care much for him. That said, he's coming off a injury. I know it's no excuse but considering the fact that the other parts of his line (Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green and Shultz) played like garbage and have played all season, and Semin was still leading the team in goals.... let's put things in perspective. Ovechkin was to blame on Boyle's goal the other night against San Jose. No benching there. At some point the "Captain" needs to be put on notice. That and he needs to stop being at the bars at 1AM on Friday night before a 12:30pm game which was confirmed.

Posted by: blanknerc | February 14, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Tarik did touch on one factor that has not gotten much discussion. The idea that Green is responding to critics - especially those who picked last year's Canadian Olympic team - who told him he had to be much more defensive-oriented.

Other critics - and the NHL offices - told Ovechkin that he had to tone-down his aggressive physical style. In fact, I think a case can be made that OV's lack of production dates not to last year's playoffs, but to his second league suspension after a game in Chicago.

Throw-in all the criticism about the Caps team in general; comments that the team was not built for the playoffs - based on nothing considering Pittsburgh also lost to Montreal last year. Are people also saying that the Penguins - who had made the last 2 Finals - are also not built for the playoffs?

Anyway, it seems to me that the Caps look like a team that has listened to every single bit of criticism thrown their way and they now have a huge inferiority complex.

There have been a lot of comments about the Caps needing to make a coaching change. I agree. But the irony is that the coach the Caps need is the real Bruce Boudreau. Because not only are the skills of the Caps players ill-suited to this new defensive style, Bruce Boudreau is ill-suited to coach it. It goes against his philosophy and his very nature.

Boudreau came to the NHL at the perfect time, and the perfect place. Coaching his run-and-gun style with the Caps collection of highly skilled players seemed like it was fated to happen. And it worked beyond anyone's expectations.

Does the phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mean anything to anyone?

Here's another phrase, "if it is broke, fix it!" And it seems to me the easiest fix is to go back to what worked so incredibly well last season. What am I missing here?

Kevin Olson
Manassas, VA

Posted by: noslok | February 14, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I am no fan of BB but a new coach will not fix these problems. You have five or six of the top players that look like garbage. They do not look hungry. Great players are motivated no matter who the coach is in most circumstances. BB seems like he would be a pretty good guy to work for and if million dollar atheletes can not take upon themselves to be better than you could put Bowman in there and they would still stink right now. I am going the opposite direction of most posters on BB and retracting my previous firing of BB statements. At this point it would be a mistake. It is the players fault 100%. I have seen BB and the coaches adjust game plans and have thrown the whole kitchen sink at the problem. Mainly I blame the top two players on the team who are not playing like a 17 million dollar duo. They are the reason The Caps are lousy this year. Should bench both OVI and Backstrom.

Posted by: pkme | February 14, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@chombie13

I don't think the team or Ovi has tuned him out. Speaking of Ovi, he was (probably) asked to tone down the hitting and go to the net more often. He did those things. I mean, the guy got a goal going to the net in the All-Star game.

To my eyes, Ovi and and crew are doing what has been asked. Are they perfect, no, but who is? The problem is that BB can't see the forest through the trees. Instead of letting the guys work out their issues and take their lumps, BB is quick to make a change. They will never adjust that way.

Posted by: ablake70 | February 14, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's another phrase, "if it is broke, fix it!" And it seems to me the easiest fix is to go back to what worked so incredibly well last season. What am I missing here?
--------------------------------------

The goal is to win in the playoff. They were 13-15 overall and 1-3 in the playoffs.

THAT's what you're missing. It was NOT working when it mattered.

Posted by: joek443 | February 14, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I think the Caps learned alot in their last two playoff early exits. I get the distinct feeling they are consciously preparing for the playoffs continuously throughout this season - tinkering here and there, employing a new defensive scheme, searching still for the hot goaltender. I think this whole season is being built on attempting to peak and have all the kinks worked out at playoff time. Maybe other teams have figured out Ovie but I still think they're just pacing themselves for a strong playoff run.

Posted by: AsstGM | February 14, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

After last year's early exit and all their talk about playing 100% year-round, etc., etc., I was excited for this year. It's been pretty evident, almost since the beginning of the season that either other teams have totally figured them out or that they figured they could save their energy for the playoffs and somehow magically turn on their game. When they win two in a row or score 3 or more, I figure it's just a matter of time until they get trounced and go through the whole head-scratching routine. I will be more surprised if they make it to the second round and beyond than I will be if they get bounced out in six or less.

Posted by: hockeyweasel | February 14, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's another phrase, "if it is broke, fix it!" And it seems to me the easiest fix is to go back to what worked so incredibly well last season. What am I missing here?

Kevin Olson
Manassas, VA

----------

you're missing the facts that

1) Chemistry isn't just consistent from year to year so it isn't just recaptured in a blink of an eye
2) Other teams have adapter to choke up our free flowing style

Remember, the caps didn't change anything until they started losing. It isn't like they changed up their systems this year and THEN they started losing. So the system change isn't what hurt this team compared to how they played last year.

and the goal you're shooting for is a great reg season team. Don't you want to shoot higher than that? Because if you want them to magically play like they did last year and win a lot of reg season games, it'll probably still end up with the same result in April.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 14, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The ultimate fault here lies with GMGM. The Caps have had two consecutive horrible playoff endings (not sure they "should" have beaten Pittsburgh two years ago, but game 7 was such a disaster...). Something needed to change this offseason to convince this relatively young and inexperienced team not to go into this season thinking that some sort of inevitable, soul-crushing doom awaits them at the end, regardless of how well the regular season goes. Replacing some of the few veterans on last year's team with untested rookies/near-rookies hardly could have been expected to accomplish that, and clearly it hasn't.

Posted by: bbposter09 | February 14, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Tarik did touch on one factor that has not gotten much discussion. The idea that Green is responding to critics - especially those who picked last year's Canadian Olympic team - who told him he had to be much more defensive-oriented.

-----------

this is a BAD thing? That Green is now better defensively instead of being a one-note closet winger?

jesus. The guy finally improves his defensive game and we got folks criticizing it because he's not a showboat offensive run n gunner anymore.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 14, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

but I still think they're just pacing themselves for a strong playoff run.

Posted by: AsstGM | February 14, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse


That's ridiculous. So in that argument they are getting their losses out of their system now so they can just blow through the playoffs?

Try again.

Posted by: bloodontheice | February 14, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

but I still think they're just pacing themselves for a strong playoff run.

Posted by: AsstGM | February 14, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse


That's ridiculous. So in that argument they are getting their losses out of their system now so they can just blow through the playoffs?

Try again.

Posted by: bloodontheice | February 14, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The goal is to win in the playoff. They were 13-15 overall and 1-3 in the playoffs.

THAT's what you're missing. It was NOT working when it mattered.

Posted by: joek443

I couldn't struggle thru all of Tarik's explanation but is that what he was missing too?

if so, good god almighty!

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 14, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The ultimate fault here lies with GMGM. The Caps have had two consecutive horrible playoff endings (not sure they "should" have beaten Pittsburgh two years ago, but game 7 was such a disaster
--------

exactly. Game7 was a total disaster. How you can bring a team into a game 7 and give that kind of effort, REGARDLESS of the final outcome, is pathetic. Again, there are many different ways to lose a hockey game. Some are acceptable, some are not. If you increase the frequency of your "acceptable losses", you'll end up being a better team for it.

The only reason so much scrutiny is being put on this team this year is because they're not blowing thru other teams like they did before. But the questions about work ethic have existed long before the losing streak and subsequent record this year.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 14, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Better give 110% boys for 60 full minutes and maybe we win. Enough is enough. Get it together right NOW.

Go Caps!

Posted by: jmarks09 | February 14, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Still can not understand the Mike Green hate. He has been the best Capital all season and has been consistant. Yes against the Kings he looked dreadful but I still think they bought him back to soon. Green is the best player on the whole Capital roster this year. And I have a message for those that say trade him. learn hockey and pay attention and you may understand my words better.

Posted by: pkme | February 14, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

As painful as it was to see them lose in three game 7's at home the last three seasons, at least the regular seasons were an absolute blast. The broke my heart in April/May, but they put on a great show from October to April.

This year, they're not even giving me that. Short of getting to the Stanley Cup, this will go down as the worst regular season - all that talent - no goals, no PP, no wins, and awful in OT.

The games were lots of fun until about Thanksgiving. Either this is the secret recipe to Stanley Cup glory or a complete disaster.

Posted by: tpricci | February 14, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

the switch flips to 'on' tonight. if not, they can always take the conference from the 8 seed!

@pkme

completely agree with you about Green. with having to make up for Schultz's poor play, i'm amazed he continues to perform at a high level. if they need to rid of a d-man, show Schultz the door. still amuses me they drafted 55 before 52...awful.

Posted by: erico31us | February 14, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Schultz even looks slower than last year. It amazes me too that he went before Green I have been a big supporter of Schultz. I get into battles with Vermont all the time but lately Schultz looks lost on the ice and VermontCaps is correct. The team needs to make a trade or two because the whole chemistry is falling apart. OVI is not a good leader and it shows. Must be his work ethic.

Posted by: pkme | February 14, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Trade or sign for a big time goalie and go back to run and gun hockey.

Posted by: JunkGoal | February 14, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

A team with the fire power they have shouldn't be getting shutout as many times as they have. George Mcphee is a smart guy, he WILL make a change that will turn things around.

Posted by: chaspulman | February 14, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

ParticipatoryDemocracyNow:

I agree with your take on Tarik's article: are the players supposed to coach themselves? Everything Tarik mentions -- from lack of motivation, to morale, uncertaintly etc. seem to be the responsibility of the coach. To me a coach is like a cook. The igredients themselves do not necessarily taste good; neither can they become a full dinner by themselves. The cook knows how to blend and balance them so that together they make a tasty dish.

Why would the entire team diminish their productivity dramatically? Do we think that individual players are saying: "to hell with this game tonight. I'll just save my energy to go clubbing later?"


Also, is it just me or does BB look like he is not the same man he was last year? He seems like he lost confidence in the team; he appears exasperated--flying off the handle all too easily rather than calmly look for solutions. He looks overwhelmed, repeating that "he doesn't have the answer" and "doesn't know what to do."


I mean, come on! Is this group of players so bad and evil that are uncoachable and any coach would throw up his hands?

Posted by: caraveli | February 14, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

* Fire Boudreau.
* Trade one of the two Euro goalies.
* Get rid of Schultz or put him upstairs so his puck watching won't hurt the D.
* Strip the captaincy from #8 and give it to #22.
* Pray we make the playoffs. East is full of pretty bad teams. We match up well with those in front of us. We might get lucky.

Posted by: lingering_lead | February 14, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how many times I have to repeat myself but any flack you heaped on the Caps last season, for not being playoff-ready, better also be directed at the then defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins. They also lost to Montreal in last season's playoffs.

I know most of you turned-off the NHL playoffs after round-1 last season. So you didn't bother to watch the Pens/Habs series. If you had, you would have seen Sidney and the gang having the exact same problems solving Montreal's defense and goal-tending as did the Caps. To call the Pens not-playoff-ready would be idiotic.

There was nothing wrong with the Caps last season, or the season before, or the season before that. Nothing except the key players were all in their early 20's.

What? Did you think teams were going to just lay down in awe of all the Caps talent? What? Did you think it was going to be easy just because the regular season looked so easy?

Well, maybe the very young Caps leaders did too. They, and you all, found out that winning The Cup is not ever going to be easy. Fine. That's a lesson that almost every great team in every sport has had to learn the hard way.

Wayne Gretzky's Oilers went through it. You didn't see them go out an invent the center-ice trap and start winning 2-1 games did you? No. The learned, got more experienced, and started kicking-ass.

Not the Caps (or their fans). Nope. Lose to a hot goalie? Time to scrap everything and force that square peg into that round hole.

Well, congratulations. This team may be so mentally screwed-up that it's not fixable without a major overhaul in personnel. It may not be fixable at all.

Revel in the knowledge that each and every one of you fans who jumped on the trendy bandwagon and demanded the team get tougher and defensive had a hand in the destruction of something that could have been truly special.

Sure, the Coaches and GM have a larger hand in this. They should have told everyone where they could stick their idiotic opinions and just had their team's back. Eventually BB and GM will pay for that with their jobs. Not sure when. But it's going to happen.

For now, forget about coach's tirades, team meetings, trade deadline deals, or anything else. This team has lost already. Because they listened to the idiots in the chorus instead of believing in themselves. Not only is it too late for this season, it's too late for this club as it is currently constituted. Players, coaches, GM; everything.

The only larger mistake the organization can make at this point is to desperately try to recapture the magic they had. That's gone. And it's gone for good. Any vain attempt at putting that Genie back in the bottle will only guarantee more seasons like this one.

If you thought last year's Caps weren't playoff ready, wait until you see this season's! But, hey, they are tougher and more defensive. You got what you asked for.

Kevin Olson
Manassas, VA

Posted by: noslok | February 14, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

kevin

You sound very emotional. let me say that I hope that the players and coaches have thicker skin than what you state. The fans on this site and elsewhere are not inventing problems with these guys. They have been shut out 8 times this year. They will have one of their worst goals for average in a generation and the superstar of the team can not seem to skate from point a to pint b without falling down or breaking a stick or shooting the puck 30 feet wide of the net. And he seems to have a conditioning issues having watched him in practice several times (at least the three times I saw him there) We are not the problem. The top two players on the team are the problem.

Posted by: pkme | February 14, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Kevin- Um, yeah- Vancouver is tougher and more defensive too, Detroit pulled that off many a year, Pit did, Philly in their playoff run at times, though their goalie stunk, Chicago more than enough of the time in their Cup run last season. There is such a thing as equilibrium. This team isn't even focused or motivated enough of the time though and that's half the problem. Of course, Bruce is open about that. Under his leadership, they're really not interested in playing hard anymore. No 2nd line center in the world is going to change that fact either, this team's biggest problem right now is internal.

Posted by: ParticipatoryDemocracyNow | February 14, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin, in particular, and Backstrom should shoulder a lot of the blame, but a coach like Ken Hitchcock would get the best out of them. If it turns out Ovie was hurt at season, I'll retract what I said. The Caps stars dominated Tampa Bay's a week ago and then returned to their old form this week. Semin is coming off a five week layoff from an injury and deserves some slack.

People should take it easy on Green as he plays with a mediocre partner and has improved his defense. I'm sure the Caps would like him paired with Poti if he was healthy. It's still not too late for GMGM to make a couple trades of substance to shake up the roster even if that meant losing a player like Semin or Laich. The team needs to be shaken up regardless of the coach as they've grown way too comfortable and the effort is lacking.

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 14, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom's having a pretty bad season and Ovi is suffering from that too..that's why the caps are where they are right now....i don't think so we need to get rid of our gm and BB asap! and find a 2nd line center as soon as possible

Posted by: anton8359 | February 14, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Could be BB has lost the team. Could be that some of the talent was overrated. Could be a lack of depth/talent at the C position. Or it could be a change in the scheme that the players aren't really fit to play.

I know one thing. If they think they are going to morph into a top tier defensive team and win championships, they better find a top tier goaltender! Otherwise, this team needs some of the freedom it possessed last season to be creative. We've supposedly upgraded our D, right? Ok. Let's go. I'd rather win 5-4 than lose 2-1.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 14, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Whatever. It's all going to be over by the end of this road trip. BB says they are aiming to go 4-0-1, or something like that?

Riiiight!

How about an over/under prediction on goals scored in the 5 games? I got 7. They better get some hellacious goaltending to get 9 points out of 7 goals.

I'd say they will be lucky to get 5 points on this trip -- more likely 3. Then maybe there can be a trainers-only meeting, or how about a caddies-only meeting. They are in the southwest after all.

Posted by: noslok | February 14, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

We had the best record in the league until our 8 game slide starting right after the Fleischman trade, and we have not been the same team since. Maybe the guys started thinking if Flash can go anyone else not locked up long term can go as well and started enclosing themselves around their own stats.
I am not playing Sigmund Freud here but maybe all the guys psyche changed and the cohesion is gone, along with the game being fun. BB is obviously getting tuned out to the players and GMGM has had his time way too long. Uncle Ted still proclaims full confidence in BB and GMGM but with the talent we have, Leonsis not comprehending the struggles at this magnitude being unacceptable make him the problem. Broken record, I know, I know.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | February 14, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

GMGM need to figure out how to break the rules and pry Cody Eakin out of Juniors for the rest of the season. On Friday night in Regina he scored a hat trick and the next night in Swift Current he gets five for fighting and just needed a goal for the Gordie Howe hat trick. Whatever it takes he got the job done. His team clinched a playoff spot this weekend by winning both of those games though Eakin's contribution was totally different in each one. Cody showed True Grit. Something no Cap can currently claim.

Posted by: dull | February 14, 2011 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Great article by Tarik, but I'd like to look at his comment about making them play with desire a different way. He doesn't have to - he needs to LET THEM PLAY the way they know how. Shackling them with this system (and it sure seems like it is the system - since that's the only tangible thing that's changed since last year) doesn't fit their game. They're now showing that in plain view. What more do you need to see?

I surely don't think they've turned off their "passion switch" overnight. The only thing that's changed is the system.

Posted by: drewsie | February 14, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe how down fans can be for a team still standing. I understand they're not exceeding as expected but we all saw what happened last year. With all this logic everyone should have been fired under the organization after last season, we shouldn't hand out contracts over a year (or half a year for all you who can't stand adversity for ONLY 1 season), and get rid of the Eastern Conference all together because they score less than the West. Does anyone remember BB reshaping the system after their losing streak and switching lines? They're having to adjust and I am sure all this "support" is hitting too (awesome to be at the game Sat and have "fans" booing). Why do you think a team has fans? To put the whole organization down (as if they play professional hockey and really understand the in's and out's) and present THE solutions for THE winning team in a "comments section". I get everyone wants solutions, but sometimes stuff doesn't make sense. God forbid!!

Posted by: BKBK | February 14, 2011 8:32 PM | Report abuse

If you don't want to criticize lackluster play and choose to only highlight the good (if any) that you want to see, that is certainly your prerogative. That still won't get them beyond the first round.

Posted by: Almazar80 | February 14, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

What's missing from this line-up is Brendan Morrison. Seems to be having a rather nice year up in Calgary. We could use him.

This team needs players have their name on that rather large silver vessel. To that end should be pursuing them -- aggressively.

Practice should never be optional. Closed on occasion, sure. But never optional.

Posted by: ljo211 | February 14, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

noslok: Great post. I think the Caps have definitely listened to their critics. The system is part of the problem. The other as you noted is their attitude. This team looks like they are having confidence issues and playing not to make mistakes. At the same time, however they seem confident that things will turn around.

I am glad more fans are catching on to the problem the Caps have is offense and not defense.

Posted by: cirrus_nine | February 14, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

The team is beginning to like the way it looked before GMGM fired Glen Hanlon and brought in Boudreau, forcing a defensive system onto offensive players. It didn't work then and it's not working now. And it's not much fun to watch.

Posted by: carlpleubsdorf | February 14, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

The team is beginning to look the way it looked before GMGM fired Glen Hanlon, forcing offensive-minded players to play a defensive system. It didn't work then and it's not working now. Besides, it's not much fun for the fans.
Bring back OUR Caps!

Posted by: carlpleubsdorf | February 14, 2011 11:50 PM | Report abuse

For all those who cry, fire BB and those who call for X player's head, I find myself somewhere in the middle, but I respectively disagree with Tarik. I believe the onus is on BB to lead here.

Everyone can take issue with certain players and their play on certain days, wish the GM would trade, X player, or bemoan the lack of a 2nd line center, etc. but I think few would say that this isn't a talented group of individuals (largely the same group who won the President's Trophy last year). Other teams suffer set backs, sometimes horrific ones, yet find a way to win, at least semi-consistently. (In fact, the Caps were quite successful without OV in the line up last year.) If the team relies on a single player, we're doomed.

Fair or not, it's BB's job to lead the group. Loss of confidence is hard to overcome. Even during the 10 game stretch, I was thinking, they'll work through it, and perhaps they will, but honestly they just seem lost to me and that really goes to the top.

Yes, fans can be fickle. Lose a few straight and someone will be calling for the coach's or some player's head. To quote GMGM, if any of us were that smart, we'd be in the game, and I don't claim to be expert, nor privy to the nuances behind the scenes.

Still, something is wrong and as much as I think it's unfair to criticize BB for a losing streak, or a given player for a few games of mediocre play, you can't fire the team. Sometimes you need to make a change, just to make a change, and I think we are rapidly approaching that time.

Posted by: mcnee | February 14, 2011 11:50 PM | Report abuse

All of this may be true, but Bruce is, and has been, in way over his head. His career is marked by lazy, listless, missed opportunities -- great offensive potential that fizzled and/or didn't show for the big games and eventually petered out into, more or less, a nothing of a career. Why are people still shocked that his team reflects his leadership?

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | February 15, 2011 2:38 AM | Report abuse

It wont really be a disappointing spring this year if they get bounced. Of course people will be upset but you will realize this year for all accounts we just sucked. Given the talent, lack of serious widespread injuries, and recent history with the team there is no reason they should be this inept. Is it the new defensive system? Is it the coach? Maybe the players are tired of Bruce. Maybe they are still for the most part immature. Maybe we need a new GM that will make a risky move. I do know the optional practices are a joke. This is a job, yes you should have fun playing it but real good teams practice.

Posted by: Killerangel81 | February 15, 2011 3:21 AM | Report abuse

No excuses for poor GM, coaching or talent either. Oh, do not forget poor psyche, since this team's mental make up is as fragile as a Porcelain Vase and as one-dimensional as a Wildebeest.

Posted by: JohnWWW | February 15, 2011 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Difficult to understand why GM & BB trying implement defensive play to a team with such a talented offensive players - just blindly creating the copy of Montreal which knocked them out in the first round last year ? Montreal didn't have choice to play run and gun against Caps last year , so they use this tactic against Caps & Pens , and and it worked until they faced Boston - smart coaching ! Caps Management didn't do nothing to bring solid blue liner or two , and one good goalkeeper to make them play great in defensive zone . Even right now you can see what others teams doing to make them better for playoffs ; Flayers , Bolts , Boston . And GM steel expecting miracle to happen -- NO WAY , Caps already forgot how to play OFFENSE .
The TIME is NOW - management made foolish & stupid decisions as always - extending Potty and Semin contracts and not even trying to address team`s problems , the coach couldn't prove to people who forced him to change the team`s style of play ; THEY GOT TO GO , Team going on a road for 5 games , and the most points we can hope for is 5 and with 21 games left they looking for going to playoffs as 6 th seeded team in East which will provide them a chance to face Philadelphia as # 1 vs Caps # 8 , or Tampa # 2 vs Caps # 7 , or Boston # 3 vs Caps # 6 , or other vise ! LETS GET READY FOR NEXT YEAR !!!!!

Posted by: knopka | February 15, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Look at the bright side. Now that the caps are heading south in the standings more supply of cap tickets and less demand equal cheaper seats. Economics 101.

Posted by: alling | February 15, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

If the Caps are really going to change their style and make it effective, the team is going to have to trade a guy like Semin that is best suited for an up tempo style and bring in net crashers and guys that make a living scoring goals from within 10 feet of the crease.

THAT is the piece to this re-alignment of the team strategy that so far as not been addressed.

The Caps are holding teams to 1, 2 or 3 goals per game now but they are only scoring 1 or 2 goals.

The power play is the key. And the Caps need to acquire the Cam Neely or Dave Andreychuk type of player that has traditionally been strong in front of the net and made a living off the power play.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | February 15, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

These are professional hockey players and in my opinion they must motivate themselves.
-----------------------------------------
An amazingly foolish statement - i hope you reading this do not actually believe it to be true.

Everywhere Vince Lombardi coached (whether it was basketball or football), he took what he had and made them play to their maximum potential. Period.

Bart Starr said that once the game got underway Lombardi was the most useless person on the sidelines. Why? Because Lombardi did his job before the game by preparing his team and motivating them, turning them into one cohesive unit of winners and win they did.

Do you see Boudreau doing these things? He is entirely out of his coaching depth.

He will be fired at some point - of that there is no doubt. But between now and then, this will be one of the lowest points in the history of this franchise, much lower than 8-67-5... at least with that team the fans knew what to expect given the team had no skill.

What we have now is comparatively far worse: a bunch of skilled players with no direction, no guidance, no cohesiveness, no heart, no soul, no drive, no will, no focus, and no character.

Whose fault is that? No question... Boudreau and his coaching staff.

So let's move on from the question of who is to blame. We know. Let's replace him and his assistants. NOW!

Posted by: bryanmcoleman | February 15, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

You're right about BMO ljo211. Nobody in Washington seemed to care much about him last year, but I thought he regained his speed last year and was very effective defensively. He played well in the playoffs as well - how often did he tee up Semin for prime scoring chances that Semin failed to bury? He's still a good second line center (playing first line now in Calgary but would be second or third on most teams) and is doing a great job on both the PK and PP. Sorry George, you blew this one.

Posted by: MorrisonFan | February 15, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BKBK | February 15, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BKBK | February 15, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Like everyone else, I am a disappointed fan at this point. The team is not nearly as exciting to watch as they were last year (despite losing in the first round, I remember some amazing hockey during the regular season).

The justifying argument is that they will be better suited for the playoffs. I find the logic behind that argument unconvincing because I don't see it reflected in the team's play or game outcomes currently, and I can't bring myself to believe that nothing that happens now has anything to do with the playoffs.

Adding to the disappointment, is the multi-year mantra that I admittedly have been caught up in, that we are in this to win the Cup. As the likelihood of achieving that goal appears more tenuous, it is difficult not to be discouraged as a fan.

The options, I suppose are to adjust my expectations (after all, most NHL fans root for teams that will not win a Cup this year), or, like many other commenters, consider what could be done to "fix" the team.

I personally think we were out-coached in the playoffs last year, and I believe BB has not progressed as a coach as other teams have adjusted to our team's play. When I hear him say he is perplexed by what is happening or worried about facing a particular team (e.g. Montreal in the playoffs last year), it sucks away my confidence and must do the same for the team.

I sense that strategy at the NHL level like the play itself is dynamic, and a coach must be progressing in his skills to compete and lead just as the players individually and as a team must progress (or at least adapt). My hope is that someone is coaching BB as he coaches the team (this seemed to be the case in the Shero-Bylsma interactions in the HBO series).

Posted by: maedte | February 15, 2011 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Like everyone else, I am a disappointed fan at this point. The team is not nearly as exciting to watch as they were last year (despite losing in the first round, I remember some amazing hockey during the regular season).

The justifying argument is that they will be better suited for the playoffs. I find the logic behind that argument unconvincing because I don't see it reflected in the team's play or game outcomes currently, and I can't bring myself to believe that nothing that happens now has anything to do with the playoffs.

Adding to the disappointment, is the multi-year mantra that I admittedly have been caught up in, that we are in this to win the Cup. As the likelihood of achieving that goal appears more tenuous, it is difficult not to be discouraged as a fan.

The options, I suppose are to adjust my expectations (after all, most NHL fans root for teams that will not win a Cup this year), or, like many other commenters, consider what could be done to "fix" the team.

I personally think we were out-coached in the playoffs last year, and I believe BB has not progressed as a coach as other teams have adjusted to our team's play. When I hear him say he is perplexed by what is happening or worried about facing a particular team (e.g. Montreal in the playoffs last year), it sucks away my confidence and must do the same for the team.

I sense that strategy at the NHL level like the play itself is dynamic, and a coach must be progressing in his skills to compete and lead just as the players individually and as a team must progress (or at least adapt). My hope is that someone is coaching BB as he coaches the team (this seemed to be the case in the Shero-Bylsma interactions in the HBO series).

Posted by: maedte | February 15, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Like everyone else, I am a disappointed fan at this point. The team is not nearly as exciting to watch as they were last year (despite losing in the first round, I remember some amazing hockey during the regular season).

The justifying argument is that they will be better suited for the playoffs. I find the logic behind that argument unconvincing because I don't see it reflected in the team's play or game outcomes currently, and I can't bring myself to believe that nothing that happens now has anything to do with the playoffs.

Adding to the disappointment, is the multi-year mantra that I admittedly have been caught up in, that we are in this to win the Cup. As the likelihood of achieving that goal appears more tenuous, it is difficult not to be discouraged as a fan.

The options, I suppose are to adjust my expectations (after all, most NHL fans root for teams that will not win a Cup this year), or, like many other commenters, consider what could be done to "fix" the team.

I personally think we were out-coached in the playoffs last year, and I believe BB has not progressed as a coach as other teams have adjusted to our team's play. When I hear him say he is perplexed by what is happening or worried about facing a particular team (e.g. Montreal in the playoffs last year), it sucks away my confidence and must do the same for the team.

I sense that strategy at the NHL level like the play itself is dynamic, and a coach must be progressing in his skills to compete and lead just as the players individually and as a team must progress (or at least adapt). My hope is that someone is coaching BB as he coaches the team (this seemed to be the case in the Shero-Bylsma interactions in the HBO series).

Posted by: maedte | February 15, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Since the 1st round last year? More like since the week before the Olympics break. The Caps haven't been the same team since. And OV hasn't been the same player since being shown up by Sid the Kid in the Olympics.

Posted by: rparker125 | February 15, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

So, Tarik, replacing the coach and GM won't work? Seemed to work for the Pens, who were in 10th place when they fired their coach and then...oh, look!--they won the Stanley Cup! And look at Tampa this year--a one year (not a five-year plna) turnaround from out of the playoffs to second in the conference.

It's not always the players but how they are coached. Bruce has clearly lost the room and GMGM has ONE playoff victory in 13 years. I'm not inspired with confidence by either.

Posted by: IHate66 | February 16, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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