Alright, kids. Gather around for a quick history lesson on the Washington Capitals. It goes a little something like this:
2008-2009: Won their Division with 108 points, eliminated in the 2nd round.
2009-2010: Won their Division and President’s Trophy with 121 points, eliminated in the 1st round.
2010-2011: Won their Division with 107 points, swept in the 2nd round.
2012-2013: Won their Division with 57 points (lockout shortened season), eliminated in the 1st round.
2015-2016: Won their Division and President’s Trophy with 120 points, eliminated in the 2nd round.
2016-2017: Won their Division and President’s Trophy with 118 points, about to choke AGAIN.
History may be known to repeat itself but this is getting ridiculous. The Penguins now hang a guillotine like 3-1 series lead over the Caps heads. And once again, over and over and over, the Washington Capitals have a tremendous regular season only to absolutely shit the bed come playoff time. You could make an argument they should rename themselves the Washington Peyton Manning’s they love the regular season that much.
The only thing I will say to comfort Caps fans and soften my criticism of their recent shortcomings is that it’s happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins two years running. We’re now halfway through a second straight postseason and no one can beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. So is this a Washington Capitals thing or is it a Penguins thing? There are 28 other NHL teams out there that can’t take down Pittsburgh and you have to give champions credit. Washington just happens to have to face those champions before most teams do.
But that excuse isn’t enough. Washington needed everything they had, specifically “Mr. Game 7” Justin Williams to bail them out in overtime, just to get through the youthful wildcard Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. The Caps also didn’t exactly finish the regular season on fire either. Braden Holtby has been average, Ovechkin’s performance in Game 4 last night was “interesting”, and for a defensively accountable Barry Trotz coached team they’ve been anything but that. So while I think Pittsburgh is a brutal draw for anybody, the Penguins are playing without the best player in the world and half their secondary scoring tied behind their backs yet they’re still getting it done.
Something is wrong with Washington.
If this thing fails again in D.C., as it appears it will, then you can expect the Caps to blow up this roster like Captain Dan’s legs. T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, and Karl Alzner will be free agents and rental Kevin Shattenkirk is surely hitting the road the second this party ends. Dependable backup goalie Philipp Grubauer could be Las Vegas bound in the expansion draft and you’re now a season away from guys like Lars Eller, Jay Beagle, and John Carlson being free agents too. Oh, and Ovechkin isn’t getting any younger either. He’ll be 32 in September. How many playoff participation trophies does he have left in the tank?
Aside from the salary the job offers I’m glad I’m not the general manager of the Capitals. There are some tough decisions to be made this summer. Maybe they did former GM George McPhee a favor by firing him from the position before he had to watch the recent consecutive top-seed meltdowns from the press box.
Here’s to hoping the Pens drop the final bomb on the 2016-2017 Caps season so we can see what kind of bloody mess they’ve got to clean up in the capital city.
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