Shea-ved Ice: ‘Capital’ Punishment

I hope everyone has fully recovered from your annual Capitals Elimination Day parties.

It came a little later this year, but the joyous day came nonetheless.

Honestly though, who saw a sweep coming?

I figured Washington would get by Tampa Bay based on being rested up from their quick series against the New York Rangers. If Washington were to lose, I would have put money on it being in seven games.

Tampa Bay was coming off a hard-fought seven-game series against the Penguins, so there’s no real explanation for a four-game sweep is there?

Or maybe there is.

Perhaps the last few years will have taught General Manager George McPhee that having defense and goaltending in the playoffs is a good idea.

The composition of the roster is just not conducive to playoff hockey. You don’t win in the playoffs by racking up six goals a game. There’s a couple guys in the defense corps that will round into form over the next couple years. Howver, Karl Alzner and John Carlson aren’t there yet. Outside of the Vespa-riding Mike Green, the rest of their defensemen come across as a Band-Aid approach by McPhee.

You need to be able to play tight-checking games and have your goaltender be a rock for playoff success.

It’s likely that Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov could evolve into great playoff goaltenders, but there’s no calming veteran presence there to help guide them.

Even their goaltending coach, Arturs Irbe, didn’t win a Stanley Cup. I’m not saying that’s a necessity, but the Capitals’ goaltending duo is very young and hasn’t had great success in the playoffs.

While Irbe won some big playoff series in his career, he doesn’t have his name on the Stanley Cup. Sound familiar? That’s because most of the players on the Washington Capitals’ roster don’t either.

The Capitals have secured the Eastern Conference’s top seed in each of the last two seasons.

Last year, they blew a 3-1 series lead to the No. 8 seed Montreal Canadiens.

That makes me feel even better about blowing a 3-1 lead against the Lightning this year without two of the best players in the world.

Maybe it has nothing to do with the roster. Perhaps it has everything to do with the high expectations for the team.

Everyone expected them to march on to the Eastern Conference Finals and challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Yet, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom practically disappeared in the series…again.

Maybe the pressure from Ted Leonsis is just too great. Are the players trying so hard to win that they get away from the things that made them successful in the regular season?

The only guy who remained dangerous in the playoffs was Alex Ovechkin. However, once again his teammates failed him and sent him to the golf course. Perhaps his “Great 8” nickname stems from his prowess on the golf course?

At least they can hang their heads high knowing they’ll be raising another Southeast Division Champions banner to the rafters. Oh, and they can still celebrate beating the Penguins in the Stanley Cup…err…Winter Classic.

The only good thing to come out of the first-round loss to the Lightning is that it’s given Penguins fans the right to say, “At least Pittsburgh went the distance with Tampa and didn’t get swept. Oh, and the Penguins did it without Crosby and Malkin.”

One other positive note about bowing out in the first round. I haven’t had time to dwell on it because my wife and I are working on fixing up our house. We’re getting help from family and friends so it’s served as a good distraction.

Anyway, where did I leave that hammer?

  • Matthew P McCarthy-Arnone

    When they went up 2-0 in Washington I knew Tampa Bay had it

  • Irish Eyes

    The same can be said for Philadelphia, who was ‘swept’ out of the playoffs AGAIN. Both teams make a great showing during the year but cannot finish. BTW – I read that Ovechkin was on his way to play for Team Russia. Personally, I hope Boston beats Tampa Bay because I am tired of people comparing Stamkos to Crosby – they are nothing alike, which has been evidenced during the playoffs. Stamkos has been very silent. Crosby on the other hand creates plays, making the impossible possible.

    • Chet 1

      Like it or not, there are other gifted players in this league who on any given night are better than Crosby, but as a typical Pens fan, you will never admit it. How do you compare the two based on the recent series? Crosby didn’t play, so yes, Stamkos was better.

      • Mac5

        I can always spot a jealous, stupid, ignorant Crosby hater a mile away.

        No one is even close to Crosby in the league, he would have had half the points of Crosby.

        I’ll bet you got beat up everday in school didn’t you? HaHa Lol baby.

      • Steve

        Crosby is a diaper wearing crybaby. No wonder why the Philly faithful have dubbed him “Crysby”. Your team has a 3 to 1 lead, that has all but evaporated. Be a man, and dress for game 7. Even if it’s just to take a shift or two, or just play on the PP. I will never respect Crysby, as much as I do a Mike Richards, Vinny Lecavalier, or even Alex O.

  • Steve

    I don’t care what anyone says about the Caps or Flyers. They both made it to round 2. The Pens didn’t. The Pens blew a 3-1 lead. I don’t care if you’re without your two superstars. You still have NHL talent. Now if you would’ve told me that the Pens lost in 7 games, without having a 3-1 lead, I would’ve been ok with that. However, all they had to do was win one out of the next three games, with two being at home. No matter what, the Flyers and Caps made it to an extra round. A round that the Pens should’ve made it to. This team was a total failure.

    • pat

      Hey Steve, do 2nd round exits get you a banner in the arena or your name on a cup? Nope, didn’t think so, shut up.

      Take Briere and Richards (and his mighty 66 points, Crosby had 66 in 41 games) off the Flyers, take the Sedins off Vancouver. Take Alex and Backstrom off the Caps. Do those teams make it out of the first round? No, they probably don’t make the playoffs, again, shut up.

      • Chet 1

        The Red Wings played a good part of the regular season without at least one of their “stars” and played without Zetterberg in the first round and swept the Coyotes. You have to have depth which the Pens lack and the situation will be worse next season as they will be unable to resign all “bit” players.

  • I love this city

    I seriously thought it was going to be the Caps and the Canucks for the final.Definitely a lot of upsets this year.

  • Irish Eyes

    Crosby wasn’t in the playoffs, but if he would have been, he would have made a better showing than Stamkos (loved the check on him by Brooks Orpik in game 1!). Crosby still scored more points this year playing half a season than most players did playing a full season. Sorry, but I haven’t seen any player perform better than Crosby, even on his worst day. As far as the Pens not making it to the 2nd round, they are the ONLY team to face so much adversity this year with injuries and they still performed. At one point, we had almost the entire Wilkes-Barre team playing, and we still won! Crosby is in an elite class of players, that very few will ever attain. Lemeiux, Gretzky, Jagr, – these are standouts in that elite class, and Stamkos can only hope to be there one day.

    • Ryan S.

      Well, well, another closed-minded Penguin fan heard from. NO other team faced as much adversity as the Pens? And you base this on what? The fact that the Pens played stretches using a couple of players from the minors? You being a Penguin slappy most likely have little knowledge regarding any other team in the league other than your beloved Pens, so unless you have stats to back up your claims, you might want to settle down, Skippy.

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