Browsing all articles tagged with New York Rangers
May
7

R.I.P. Washington Capitals 2010-2011

Another year, another playoff disappointment for the Washington Capitals. But should we really be surprised? The Caps weren’t the favorite to make it out of the Eastern Conference going into the playoffs, despite finishing first overall in the Eastern Conference. It wasn’t until after game one against the New York Rangers that people started to call the Capitals the best team in the East. But after a quick series win in round one fans wanted more. Just when it seemed like this team had turned the corner, they fell flat.

The biggest question now that the season is over is whether or not head coach Bruce Boudreau should get fired. In my opinion, no. The playoff failure is hard to overlook, especially after being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning. His playoff record is 17-19, and he has only won two of six playoff series. Not good. But I’m going to argue that this was Boudreau’s best season as a head coach. After an eight game losing streak (all caught on tape during HBO’s 24/7), most people had written this year’s team off. The Caps weren’t going anywhere and Boudreau’s head was being called for. Still, General Manager George McPhee and owner Ted Leonsis had faith in the coach and didn’t fire him.

After being destroyed 6-0 by the New York Rangers in February, Boudreau changed the team’s style of play. The once offensive juggernaut became a defense oriented team. The Caps were blocking shots and getting back to stifle odd man rushes from the opposing teams. In a month the Washington Capitals went from fifth in the Eastern Conference and second in the Southeast division to first. Boudreau should have been nominated for the Jack Adams award. To change the team’s style of play midseason and bounce back to take first place in the second half of the season is impressive.

If you believe McPhee and Leonsis when they say the team is still ahead of schedule then there should be no questions about Boudreau’s job security. Despite the playoff loss, the Capitals had a great season. They were able to overcome a tough losing streak midseason, hang another Southeast Division banner in the Verizon Center rafters, and finish first overall in Eastern Conference. And the future is bright for Caps.

For the first time since trading goalie Olaf Kolzig the Capitals are finally stable in net. Goaltender Michael Neuvirth has proven himself worthy to be the Caps number one goalie. Neuvirth had a great regular season followed by an incredible series against the Rangers. While Neuvirth didn’t help the Caps win any games against the Lightning, he was able to come up with big save after big save to keep the Caps in games. Goalies Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby are both quality backups and have proven they can start and win games for the Caps. Goaltending is not an issue this offseason.

The Capitals young players will have more experience next year. Defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner were the Caps best defensive pairing all year and were in their first full season together. Carlson did struggle in the playoffs but next year we will see a continuation of improved play. Center Marcus Johansson’s play improved all season. The Caps will look for him to step up into that second line center role next season.

Players who were brought in at the trade deadline like center Jason Arnott and left winger Marco Sturm will most likely not be back with the team next year. Defenseman Scott Hannan is a question. He played well but with Dennis Wideman under contract for next year, Hannan might not be brought back. It would be nice to have these players back, but they may not be needed with the younger talent stepping up.

The Capitals will have to stick top Boudreau’s new defensive minded scheme next season to be successful in the playoffs. But they also need to find their heart. Yes the power play was woeful. Yes, their stellar penalty kill let them down in the playoffs. Yes, center Nick Backstrom was a nonfactor in the playoffs. But this team just didn’t have the drive to win a championship this year. It’s not just in the playoffs. Too many times this season the Capitals didn’t even show up to play until the third period. By the time the team turned it on and played hard, it was too late. The Caps didn’t come close to being a good as they could’ve been because they just don’t try hard all the time.

It was a fun hockey season and a frustrating one. And for another year, it ends in disappointment for Caps fans. But I want to say thank you the Washington Capitals for another year of hockey. It was a season of highs and lows and while it ended on a low note, it was still a great season.

I can’t wait for the 2011-2012 season to start.

Apr
12

2011 NHL Playoff Preview – Eastern Conference

The 2010-2011 NHL regular season has come to a close and its playoff time. Time for razors to be put away and beards to be grown. It’s the time of year that ESPN actually covers hockey. This year we’re doing a playoff breakdown for the 2010-2011 playoffs. Jake and I will be giving our assessment of each series and pick the winners. Here is our Eastern Conference Preview and Predictions.

No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 8 New York Rangers

Bryan

This is the series no Caps fan wanted to see happen. The Rangers took three out of the four games played, including a 7-0 and 6-0 victory. But since that 6-0 loss the Capitals are 16-3-1 and a different team then the one the Rangers last saw. The big questions are how good will defenseman Mike Green be in his return to line-up and how will the Caps young goaltenders handle the pressure? Despite the Capitals lack of success against the Rangers this season I’m still willing to give the Caps an edge in this series. After last year’s embarrassment this team is more focused and won’t let off the throttle if they’re up in the series.

Prediction: Washington Capitals in five.

Jake

Headline Matchup: Henrik Lundqvist vs. the Capitals offense

As a Caps fan, it’s hard not be a little upset that the Rangers are the Caps first round matchup. On their way to winning the season series, the New York Rangers gave the Washington Capitals a 7-0 beating and a 6-0 drubbing. During that series Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist held an amazing .955 save percentage and almost singlehandedly defeated the Caps. King Henrik, the Rangers, and the butt-whippings they put on the Capitals are the reason head coach Bruce Boudreau changed the system his boys in red deploy.

And on that note I say thank you! By switching to a more defensive-minded approach the Caps are more playoff ready than they ever have been under Boudreau. Caps players have shown themselves up to the task of playing tight, one-goal games that the playoffs offer time and time again. Plus the Caps have two wildcards that give them the real advantage. First is the underrated goaltending. Both goalies Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov have been stellar when healthy. The second wildcard is the health of the Washington Caps. The Capitals are getting healthier at the right time. Defenseman Mike Green is expected back for Game 1 as is 2nd line Center Jason Arnott. If they come back at 100% the Capital offensive depth becomes scarier by the day. Adding them to the firepower of left wingers Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and center Nicholas Backstrom it will be hard for the Blue Bombers to match the Boys in Red.

Prediction: Washington Capitals in six.
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