KK Members Blog
by FanspeakNHL on 05/13/12 at 02:35 PM ET
What an up-and-down season for the Washington Capitals. After changing coaches, not making moves at the trading deadline, pretty much (unofficially) putting a freeze on contract extensions and barely making the playoffs, the Caps eliminated the defending champion Boston Bruins in the first round before bowing out to the New York Rangers in last night’s game seven of the conference semifinals.
After undergoing an identity transplant this season, the team managed to right the ship for the playoffs. — sorta. Their biggest find was Braden Holtby, who entered the playoffs with no postseason experience and only 21 regular-season games played, but ended with a 1.95 goals against average (sixth-best in the league), a .935 save percentage (also sixth) and all seven of the Caps’ wins, not to mention constant lauding by myriad members of the national media.
Furthermore, in front of Holtby, the Caps’ defense allowed just 2.14 goals per game and boasted a 87.5-percent effective penalty kill. Both led to all but one game being decided by one goal — despite some inept offense and occasional boneheaded penalties and line changes.
The lack of offense, ironically, is what cost the Caps in the end. Against the Rangers and Bruins, they averaged a little more than two goals per game and only converted 18 percent of their power plays. Although their special teams play improved during the postseason, it still misfired at key moments (such as the one they received late in the third period last night when they were down by a goal) and they still didn’t get shots off on odd-man breaks.
This is a team that went from a “shoot early and often (and play defense when convenient)” mentality to just the opposite: concentrating on defense and trying to muster just enough offense to win games. It nearly worked — and did win them 7 playoff games — but they certainly weren’t as effective as they could have been.
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