Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/13/12 at 12:17 PM ET
from Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post,
The Washington Capitals didn’t just lose a second-round playoff series in seven tight, tough games with the top-seeded New York Rangers here in thunderous Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. This was a defeat with a victory of a different but enormously important kind, hidden inside it.
The Caps reasserted, even in their 2-1 loss at the hands of superb goalie Henrik Lundqvist, that they have found a new playing style — a new team identity really — under rookie Coach Dale Hunter that can keep their Window of Opportunity as a serious Stanley Cup contender open for years.
An era has not ended. A five-year period of Young Guns and end-to-end, highlight-film scoring plays has not crashed bitterly. Instead, it has been transformed internally — with many of the same players on the ice, but with all the Caps approaching the game completely differently.
The sometimes selfish, often unfocused and occasionally downright demoralized Caps of the past four postseasons have, apparently disappeared. Instead, the Capitals have coped with the gradual aging, injury and erosion of some of their brightest stars and have adjusted on the fly — made a midcourse correction, one of the most difficult tasks in sport.
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