Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Neil Greenberg of Capitals Insider,
In fact, it is because this team wins so much that it has fostered what I like to call a Culture of Perennial Disappointment: failing to advance past the second round since its dark-horse run in the 1998 Stanley Cup playoffs.
So, we should be able to agree this organization is made up of winners. However, is it also made up of chokers?
You know, calling the Caps “Choking Dogs” used to be funny. But it isn’t any more. Because it has been happening for 12 years. In nine of their past 12 playoffs the Capitals have either frittered away a substantial playoff lead or lost to a team they finished above in the regular season.
That was Tony Kornheiser’s Washington Post column from 1996, after Washington won the first two games against Pittsburgh before dropping the next four, leading to a first-round exit — a trend that plagues this organization with the term “chokers.” But it is a moniker that, sadly, has been earned.
The Capitals have the worst postseason record in games in which the team can win the series with a victory (minimum 10 games played in those situations):
The Caps lose playoff games by the margin of Ovechkin’s negative thoughts. They will do this for as long as they let silly contentions about officiating and league conspiracies blind them to the larger fact of their performance. Buried in Ovechkin and McPhee’s remarks is the suggestion that they were really the better team. They weren’t. They got purely outfought, especially by the Rangers’ third and fourth lines, and mentally collapsed. The refs didn’t play swarming defense that blocked 27 Capitals shots in Game 7. The refs didn’t hold Ovechkin to just one goal and one assist in the entire series.
Nine times the Caps have blown two-game leads in the playoffs — three of those in the last five years. That’s a pattern. Until they have a very candid conversation with themselves — until they ditch their mood of sulky complacency in favor of real self-examination — you can count on it to continue.
-Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post where you can read more about the Capitals' mindset.
When you have an owner who acts like a teddy bear, who wants to be loved by his players and who talks tough only when somebody criticizes his beloved employees, what do you expect? His years of country-club attitude create the atmosphere where Ovechkin can embarrass the NHL and the Caps by telling a Russian reporter, “The refereeing . . . how can there be no penalties at all [on one team] during the playoffs? I am not saying there was a phone call from [the league], but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings. The lockout . . . the league needs to make profit.” (What, no KGB?)
When you have a general manager who has been in his job 16 years but hasn’t been to the Stanley Cup finals since his first year and that GM builds teams designed to win in the regular season and fill up the rink for his boss but not to weather the demands of the playoffs, why would you think he’s going to win it all?
When you have a star who was made captain not because he deserved it but in the hopes that it would prod him to get in better shape, cut down his carousing and show some leadership, why be shocked when he scores fewer goals (one) in a first-round exit than Rangers fourth-liner Arron Asham?
-Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post where you can read more on the Capitals.
from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post,
There was a moment Monday, one that will be lost in yet another restless offseason, in which it seemed it could be Alex Ovechkin’s night. In one first-period shift, the Washington Capitals right winger crushed helpless New York Rangers defenseman John Moore in the open ice. He then tracked down Steve Eminger and delivered another blow. And before he returned to the bench, he lined up Ryan McDonagh, jarring him. The boards rattled. Verizon Center roared.
But as the clock wound down, and another spring of hockey ended in the District, Ovechkin was left to look down at his feet, glance up at the scoreboard, and consider another long summer ahead. His early hits scarcely rattled the Rangers, and his lone shot couldn’t getpast infallible New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, so Washington is back in a familiar spot: Wondering when and how — and, more increasingly, if — the Ovechkin-led Capitals will ever advance deep into the NHL playoffs.
Final score was 5-0 and it wasn't even that close.
Rangers will face the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Feel free to discussion the plays, the goals, the action from both games tonight.
My take on the play at the time it happened remains unchanged. Mike Green would receive a major and automatic game misconduct for cross-checking while Derek Dorsett a minor penalty for boarding. The teams would play 4 on 4 for two minutes at which point the NY Rangers would receive a 3 minute power-play for the balance of the major penalty to Green.
More from Fraser on this topic at TSN.
If you missed the incidents...
from Katie Carrera of the Washington Post,
The Capitals are quite familiar with the agony-inducing, pressure-packed contests that are a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Winner-take-all nailbiters where every shift and every mistake are magnified because at the end, one team’s season will come to a screeching halt.
Five of six contests in this series have been decided by one goal and two have gone to overtime, so it’s not all that surprising that the Capitals and Rangers would need Game 7 to determine a winner of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
“I kind of thought that right from the beginning of the series that it was going to be a long one,” Karl Alzner said. “The fact that we went up 2-0, I thought that was great, but I knew that wasn’t the case. Game 7 against this team is kind of normal now, so we’re ready for it.”
Of the nine playoff series in the Ovechkin era (dating back to 2008), seven have gone the distance, including this matchup against the Rangers. Washington is 2-4 in Game 7s in that same span and 1-3 when that decisive contest occurs at Verizon Center.
Toronto beats Boston 2-1 tonight to force a Game 7 in Boston tomorrow at 7:00pm ET.
Along with the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals at 8:00pm ET, it should be quite the night for hockey.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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