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Are the Capitals Any Better Off Then Where They Were Two Years Ago?

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Old
05-12-2012, 11:29 PM
  #26
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I was just considering making a thread asking this precise question. So, yes, I feel they were a superior team when they outscored teams by the boatload. What ended up their Achilles' heel was lackluster goaltender and horrible defense, both areas they have since addressed. If they returned to the juggernaut style with the team they have now, Washington would be a force. People may argue this was their best series and while accurate to an extent. The results are bolstered by phenomenal goaltender and New York's inability to score in abundance.

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05-12-2012, 11:39 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Marc the Habs Fan View Post
IMO, if they had a Holtby like goalie in 2008-2010, they would have never had to undergo this dramatic makeover.
Semyon Varlamov says hello. Remember the hype he generated in the playoffs in 2009 playing behind a much more porous defense?

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05-12-2012, 11:39 PM
  #28
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In 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11 they were one of the truly elite teams in the league. Never made it past the 2nd round, but they were a great team regardless, with regular season finishes of 2nd in the east in 08/09, 1st in the entire league in 09/10 (with an 8 point lead on the west-leading Sharks, and a ridiculous 18 point lead on 2nd in the east), and 1st in the east in 10/11. Over these 3 seasons combined they had more points in the regular season than any other team in the league. Ovechkin was a legit superstar who scored 50-65 goals in each of those seasons, they were electric offensively, and people felt like they were so good/talented that it was just a matter of time before they won a cup, or at least made it to the finals.

This season Ovechkin looked way more "mortal" than ever before, and the team was pretty "meh," finishing 7th in the east, losing the division to the Panters, and just barely squeaking into the playoffs (0 points ahead of 8th, 3 points ahead of 9th). They are currently a worse team by far than they were in 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11. Now, that's not to say the future is dark for them, they have plenty to get excited about:
- Holtby is 22, and could mature into a really good goalie
- On d they've got plenty of youth - Orlov is 20, Carlson 22, Alzner 23, and even Mike Green is just 26
- Plenty of young forwards too - Mojo is 21, Backstom 24, and Ovy 26. Other young roster forwards include Eakin (20) and Perreault (24). Kuznetsov is a great prospect if he comes over, and Galiev isn't a bad prospect either

They've also got the 11th and 16th overall picks in the 2012 NHL draft. Plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future, but this season specifically was clearly a MAJOR downturn for the team, not a positive at all, more of a HUGE step back. If Semin leaves as a UFA, and Kuznetsov stays in Russia, then this poor year could become a trend.

I personally think that trying to turn the Caps into a grinding team is a bad call. You can play a high octane, highly skilled, offensively aggressive style and still win cups, or at least make it to the finals. Most teams that have either won cups or made it to the finals recently have been among the highest scoring teams in the league, and have emphasized a skilled offensive game. The only team to make it to the cup finals without being top 6 (or at least tied for 6th) in regular season goals for is the Edmonton Oilers in 05/06, every other team that has made it to the finals since the lockout has been an offensive powerhouse in said season(s) (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Philly, Ottawa, Vancouver, Carolina and Anaheim).

The ideal coach for the Caps would be someone who knows how to coach a high octane offensive system while ALSO instilling some discipline. Boudreau had the offense down, I think he's a great hockey mind, but he didn't have the personality to command the respect of his players, he lost the team emotionally. They need someone who understands offense like Boudreau, who is also a strong leader that can force players to play hard and responsibly. I'm talking about a coach like Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma (Philly series aside, he normally has them playing fast paced offense AND great defense), Claude Julien, Paul MacLean, etc. Going to a pure grinding system ignores the greatest strength of the Caps' core, which is explosive offense. The system/coaching should adjust to the roster/core, not the other way around.


Last edited by ponder: 05-13-2012 at 12:01 AM.
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05-12-2012, 11:48 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by tony d View Post
They need to not re-sign Semin this off-season and sign a top 6 2 way forward. Also get a full-time coach in place of Hunter and replace Ovechkin as captain.
Well, this is pretty much the worst advice you could give. Caps need more skill, not less. Ditching Semin is a move in the wrong direction on that front. Ovie is the heart and soul of the team, and was voted captain for a reason. You don't have to be a good 'ol Canadian boy to be a captain in the NHL. And, no, Mr. Soundbite (Laich) wouldn't make a good captain. And do you really think a third coach in under 12 months would improve any team?


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They had a great young forward in Tomas Fleischmann and George McPhee gave him away for an over the hill Scott Hannan. Probably his worst move as a GM. As for Semin, he wasn't great but he wasn't awful. As for all these series, It's always the Eastern Europeans blamed for the losses.
Fleischmann had no place on the roster at the time and has never shown up in the playoffs. He has only 4 goals and 8 career points in 29 playoff games, and only had one goal and three points in the seven the Panthers played this year. Against Montreal he played his way into being a healthy scratch in game seven (and most argue he should have been scratched much earlier).

Not to mention that the Jagr debacle easily takes the cake as McPhee's worst set of moves, and likely always will.

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05-13-2012, 12:41 AM
  #30
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no were worse off, the only positives are alzner/carlson and holtby

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05-13-2012, 02:48 AM
  #31
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Originally Posted by ponder View Post
In 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11 they were one of the truly elite teams in the league. Never made it past the 2nd round, but they were a great team regardless, with regular season finishes of 2nd in the east in 08/09, 1st in the entire league in 09/10 (with an 8 point lead on the west-leading Sharks, and a ridiculous 18 point lead on 2nd in the east), and 1st in the east in 10/11. Over these 3 seasons combined they had more points in the regular season than any other team in the league. Ovechkin was a legit superstar who scored 50-65 goals in each of those seasons, they were electric offensively, and people felt like they were so good/talented that it was just a matter of time before they won a cup, or at least made it to the finals.

This season Ovechkin looked way more "mortal" than ever before, and the team was pretty "meh," finishing 7th in the east, losing the division to the Panters, and just barely squeaking into the playoffs (0 points ahead of 8th, 3 points ahead of 9th). They are currently a worse team by far than they were in 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11. Now, that's not to say the future is dark for them, they have plenty to get excited about:
- Holtby is 22, and could mature into a really good goalie
- On d they've got plenty of youth - Orlov is 20, Carlson 22, Alzner 23, and even Mike Green is just 26
- Plenty of young forwards too - Mojo is 21, Backstom 24, and Ovy 26. Other young roster forwards include Eakin (20) and Perreault (24). Kuznetsov is a great prospect if he comes over, and Galiev isn't a bad prospect either

They've also got the 11th and 16th overall picks in the 2012 NHL draft. Plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future, but this season specifically was clearly a MAJOR downturn for the team, not a positive at all, more of a HUGE step back. If Semin leaves as a UFA, and Kuznetsov stays in Russia, then this poor year could become a trend.

I personally think that trying to turn the Caps into a grinding team is a bad call. You can play a high octane, highly skilled, offensively aggressive style and still win cups, or at least make it to the finals. Most teams that have either won cups or made it to the finals recently have been among the highest scoring teams in the league, and have emphasized a skilled offensive game. The only team to make it to the cup finals without being top 6 (or at least tied for 6th) in regular season goals for is the Edmonton Oilers in 05/06, every other team that has made it to the finals since the lockout has been an offensive powerhouse in said season(s) (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Philly, Ottawa, Vancouver, Carolina and Anaheim).

The ideal coach for the Caps would be someone who knows how to coach a high octane offensive system while ALSO instilling some discipline. Boudreau had the offense down, I think he's a great hockey mind, but he didn't have the personality to command the respect of his players, he lost the team emotionally. They need someone who understands offense like Boudreau, who is also a strong leader that can force players to play hard and responsibly. I'm talking about a coach like Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma (Philly series aside, he normally has them playing fast paced offense AND great defense), Claude Julien, Paul MacLean, etc. Going to a pure grinding system ignores the greatest strength of the Caps' core, which is explosive offense. The system/coaching should adjust to the roster/core, not the other way around.
Pretty much this.

Even though Caps are one of my favorite teams and I like a lot of players on their roster, I found it difficult to root for them this season, including the playoffs. Aside from the rather boring play and disappointing performance during the regular season, I felt like each win increases the probability that they will be stuck with the "defensive system" they have, which is nothing more than squandering their immense offensive talent.

I still feel that Caps went the wrong way in 2010. Their problem in the series against Montreal was PP, the misuse of Ovechkin on PP, and the lack of "plan B" on the offense.
They fixed none of that and went for the easy fix: defense and grinders. Yes, their defense was not the best one, but it is not like they were losing to Montreal 4-5 or even 3-4.

It was all downhill from there, because their offense obviously did not fix itself, and neither the coaches nor the GM did anything to help it.
Right now, it is just ridiculous how little they score with so much talent in their top6. Consequently, they are grinding out the wins in the games they should have won like 5-2 by just having Ovechkin and Backstrom play to their potential. Heck, even in the Rangers series, Ovechkin and Backstrom should have put Game 5 and Game 6 to bed by the end of the second. But no, Caps offense is out of whack and they have to rely on Hamrlik or Ward.

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Old
05-13-2012, 03:08 AM
  #32
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Carlson, Alzner, Holtby, Laich, and Chimera all played well, imo. Semin disappeared against the Rangers. Some changes need to be made this summer, though.

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05-13-2012, 03:36 AM
  #33
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Originally Posted by Lshap View Post
Ironic that we're talking about a Washington team in need of more offense. Amazing how things have changed. This team is now about Chimera, Laich and Backstrom more than it is about Ovechkin. New style, new coaching system, new values. Are they better? I think so, yes. This was their best playoff performance in years. The Caps came within a hair of beating the Rangers (think back to the last seven seconds of game five). They have an incredibly tight defensive structure and a possible new star in nets. Based on this series it's easy to say they need more scoring, but I wonder how many other teams could've managed to score against a Rangers team that was an impenetrable black hole to incoming forwards.

Bottom line, if you look at the core, the chemistry and the overall roster, the Caps are good to go for the future. But if you look at their past track record, they may have reached the tipping point of frustration over not getting anywhere close to the Cup. IMO they have a solid team in place for next year; it would be a shame to scrap it.
Yeah.

It must be frustrating for Caps fans that the Caps haven't passed the second round in recent years.

That being said, it'd be silly to forget just how close the Caps came to beating NYR. So. damn. close.

They even bounced back after so many crushing defeats, like Game 3 and Game 5.

The Caps have a great team. If Holtby continues to play the way he played this postseason, the Caps will win the Cup at some point in the next few years.

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05-13-2012, 04:13 AM
  #34
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Now that they have a goalie that can make saves when there are breakdowns, they need to go back to their old high flying offensive ways.

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05-13-2012, 06:41 AM
  #35
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Originally Posted by Zuluss View Post
I still feel that Caps went the wrong way in 2010. Their problem in the series against Montreal was PP, the misuse of Ovechkin on PP, and the lack of "plan B" on the offense.
They fixed none of that and went for the easy fix: defense and grinders. Yes, their defense was not the best one, but it is not like they were losing to Montreal 4-5 or even 3-4.
Even with all that in mind, the biggest blunder that ultimately cost them the series was Boudreau's inability to adjust tactics. When Halak channeled Roy, Washington's strategy seemed to be a desperate "SHOOT!" and were begging it squeak by. If they had cycled the puck more and as stated, used Ovie better, then I certainly see Montreal going down. Instead with this defensive style, I doubt the Habs would even more than five games that series to bump them off.

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05-13-2012, 07:05 AM
  #36
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Don't forget about Kuznetsov, he's going to be a huge impact player in the future.
If he ever comes over.

I'm expecting a big trade to go down this summer.

Caps are looking pretty with the 11th and 16th picks in this years draft. Not bad for a second-round exit! Definitely pieces they could use to score an impact forward if they wanted to trade those picks for immediate help.

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05-13-2012, 07:50 AM
  #37
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I'd argue that they slightly set themselves back.

The Hunter system is probably the worst thing that can happen to Ovechkin. They need to find more elite 2-way hockey players like Backstrom or rejuvenate Ovechkin's playing style similar to that of Kovalchuk's.

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05-13-2012, 07:52 AM
  #38
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It all went downhill when they switched to a defensive system mid way through that boudreau season.

I just want the old Caps back, where it seemed they could score at will, regardless how much they were down.

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05-13-2012, 07:58 AM
  #39
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Originally Posted by Kershaw View Post
I'd argue that they slightly set themselves back.

The Hunter system is probably the worst thing that can happen to Ovechkin. They need to find more elite 2-way hockey players like Backstrom or rejuvenate Ovechkin's playing style similar to that of Kovalchuk's.
i think they need another center to play with ovechkin, our lack of 2C forced ovie to play with 3rd liners like mojo, laich, and brouwer who really couldnt set him up all series making ovechkins line pretty ineffective. while a 2-way center would be nice he would likely cost more and would be hard to acquire and with backstrom, laich, and beagle down the middle we can take 1 ok defensive center

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05-13-2012, 08:26 AM
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lshap View Post
Disagree. Pittsburgh overpowered them, Montreal out-coached them. In both series, the Caps' relied on a strong offense but forgot about their weak spots, which were exploited to beat them. We saw that same issue in the past month with the Flyers and Canucks, two great teams with glaring holes that were exploited to beat them.

This year the Caps had no obvious weak spot. True, they didn't make the final-four, but they came as close to it as possible. Unlike Nashville, St-Louis and Philly -- three strong teams who were beaten convincingly -- there was nothing convincing about Washington's loss. They could/should/might have been in the final four just as easily as New York. I'm a Habs fan with nothing for or against Washington, but they really impressed me.
Please explain which weakness was exploited against Montreal.

They went up in the series 3 games to 1. Then in the next 3 games they outshot the Habs 38-28, 54-22 and 42-16, but lost 2-1, 4-1 and 2-1.

Look at that closer. In the last 2 games of the series they outshot the Habs 96-38. That is as dominant as you will ever see a team and yet they walked away with 2 Ls

Their weak spot was a goalie who stopped 131 of his last 134 shots against (.978 save percentage), name one team who doesn't have that weak spot.

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05-13-2012, 08:41 AM
  #41
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Let Semin go and sign 2-3 guys that are better suited for Hunter's system, and I can see a cup in the next 2 years for them.

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05-13-2012, 08:54 AM
  #42
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Please explain which weakness was exploited against Montreal.

They went up in the series 3 games to 1. Then in the next 3 games they outshot the Habs 38-28, 54-22 and 42-16, but lost 2-1, 4-1 and 2-1.

Look at that closer. In the last 2 games of the series they outshot the Habs 96-38. That is as dominant as you will ever see a team and yet they walked away with 2 Ls

Their weak spot was a goalie who stopped 131 of his last 134 shots against (.978 save percentage), name one team who doesn't have that weak spot.
No question Halak played great, but look at the other end. In those last three games, Montreal scored 8 goals in 66 shots. That's an 878. save % for Washington, against the Habs -- a defensive team with one of the worst offenses in the league. What does that tell you?

If the Caps had that same defense/backchecking against New York this series would've been over in four straight.

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05-13-2012, 09:07 AM
  #43
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Caps have already lost a Game 7 in the Conference Semi Finals, so no.

The team hasn't achieved anything of merit in the postseason since 1998.

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05-13-2012, 09:17 AM
  #44
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Caps have already lost a Game 7 in the Conference Semi Finals, so no.

The team hasn't achieved anything of merit in the postseason since 1998.
They lost 6-1 to Pittsburgh in the last game on home ice in 2009. At least, last night they were in it for a full 60 minutes. The result is the same but they were not outplayed by the Rangers like they were against Pittsburgh. This series could have gone either way.

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05-13-2012, 09:22 AM
  #45
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Doubt it, he would have been 18-20 years old..
I should have said Holtby level goaltending, not Holtby himself obviously. Especially against us in 2010.

They would have likely been in the Finals in 2010 had they gotten that, IMO.

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05-13-2012, 09:33 AM
  #46
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I should have said Holtby level goaltending, not Holtby himself obviously. Especially against us in 2010.

They would have likely been in the Finals in 2010 had they gotten that, IMO.
meh we still had varly, still would have gone to seven games i think. halak played like a god

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05-13-2012, 12:56 PM
  #47
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It all went downhill when they switched to a defensive system mid way through that boudreau season.

I just want the old Caps back, where it seemed they could score at will, regardless how much they were down.
You're aware that the scoring stopped before the switch to the defensive system, right? In fact, it was the lack of scoring early on last season that forced the defensive system to come into play.

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05-13-2012, 03:39 PM
  #48
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Originally Posted by Canuckaholic19 View Post
Now that they have a goalie that can make saves when there are breakdowns, they need to go back to their old high flying offensive ways.
The thing is that their defense rarely broke down in the playoffs. Holtby was good, but he didn't have to make too many tough saves. The defense did a great job keeping things to the outside and blocking a lot of shots. They did have a goalie who could make saves when things broke down, but their defense used to break down a lot and he couldn't stay healthy there. They need to find some middle ground between high flying offense and pure defense like they played in the playoffs.

I really think they need to upgrade their bottom 6. Yeah, they have hard working guys in their bottom 6, but there's no threat to score there. Matt Hendricks is awesome at what he does, but do you really want him playing 18 minutes a night?

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05-13-2012, 05:30 PM
  #49
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Originally Posted by Marc the Habs Fan View Post
IMO, if they had a Holtby like goalie in 2008-2010, they would have never had to undergo this dramatic makeover.
Holtby would not be a Holtby like goaltender if he played behind those teams. He was very sheltered by a great defensive system.

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05-13-2012, 05:36 PM
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The Caps are in better shape for playoffs right now than they were two years ago. They're more tight defensively and more playoff oriented. Now they don't only relies on Ovechkin like they used to. Ovechkin at 17 min a game is better than 23 or 24 mins a game. He's far more explosive. One thing I would like to change If I was a Caps fan. I would put the 'C' away from Ovechkin.

Sorry but a guy who comes 30 lbs overweight at the training camp and says publicly than he's saving himself for the playoff have no rights to be Captain... A captain must show example in and off the ice everytime. I know there's a lot of Caps fan and Ovechkin fans here. I don't say this to offend anyone. Ovechkin is a tremendous player but he's not captain material at all.

Anyway. Caps fans. Rejoice! You have a good team, you just discovered that you had a very good young goalie too. Future is bright!

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