Well, it’s May. The sun is shining, the grass is growing and the Capitals are out of the playoffs.
For about the fifth year in a row.
Reread that a few times to really get the feeling of that. This is the team that has won their conference multiple times. This is the team with Alexander “the Great” Ovechkin and Mike Green. Multiple sources, including Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Hockey blog Puck Daddy, will point the blame at coach Bruce Boudreau and avoid blaming the players.
But guess what?
Boudreau isn’t the one out on the ice. Boudreau can’t force the players to play better. They need to go out and win. Not play to lose, but play to win. Boudreau has an awesome quote to some up the entire Capitals organization.
“I have never seen a bunch of guys look so [expletive] down when something bad happens.”
Every time the Caps start the season, they are on top of the world and chomping at the bit for a Stanely Cup victory. And every time they face the slightest adversity, they fold harder and in a more stunning fashion than the year before. Every player seemingly gives up once the going gets tough. It’s embarrassing. They talk a big game, they win the regular season and that’s it. No guts; no glory. Just another May spent on the golf course or in Russia or wherever. If the organization is looking to fix this problem, they need to address one man.
Find out why after the jump...
Ovechkin, in my firmest of beliefs, is the sole problem of this team. He is not a Captain. He’s not an assistant. He’s a very talented winger who has enthusiasm for the game. There are a few guys in the Washington locker-room who can inspire and lead a team, but Ovechkin is not one of them. In fact, most of the team is so worried about themselves they don’t care about the team. Guys like Brooks Laich are stuck carrying selfish teammates like Ovechkin, Semin, Green and Backstrom. There’s no sense of leadership. Ovechkin is the captain, yet he takes stupid penalties all the time. Once he gets flustered he plays terrible and ends up being a puck hog. Semin and Backstrom suffer from the Russian syndrome of once-I-get-hit-I-no-longer-want-to-play and are done. We’ve seen this attitude in other players, specifically Evgeni Malkin, and it can ruin teams if they do not have someone to counter-balance this.
The bottom line is this: should the Caps want to succeed in the playoffs in the NHL, they are going to have to dig deep inside. They need to get off the golf course, and spend some time thinking hard about where they want to be in the next few years. Ovechkin is not getting any younger, and with how much talent is in the NHL, it is a very real possibility that Ovechkin plateaus and this team loses it’s chance to advance to the conference finals.
I leave you with a saying the Pens use time and time again during the playoffs, which can be used with anything in life.
“Nothing worth having ever came easy.”
But that’s just my take...