I could have written something following the loss, but it would not have been kind in the very least to the boys I have followed since childhood. And that isn't really fair. I wanted to give it some time, let the Caps sort of explain themselves and wait for the raw emotions to subside.
Looking back, all I feel is immense disappointment. Their season was one for the history books. We have seen how crazy good this team can be, even if they have to do it after two really bad periods. Like Mike Green said, it was a missed opportunity and we will have to wait another 82 games for another crack at it. Right now that seems a lifetime away, probably longer for the 23 guys in that locker room too.
Before, during the rebuilding phase, we could laud over individual achievements of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom and Mike Green. This year, when those individual accolades fall to the wayside, we were certain it was because the Capitals would sacrifice that hardware for Lord Stanley's Cup. But that didn't happen, not this year.
The playoff series in particular, I felt Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom were on an island compared to the rest of the team. The pressure for one line to produce not only 5 on 5 but also on the power play was just too much with no goal support. The Capitals blue line only mustered two goals for the entire seven game series. Alex Semin, Mike Green and Tomas Fleischmann were held off the scoresheet completely. For the Capitals to win, they needed those players to be their best, they weren't.
Mike Green's worst enemy is himself. If it is not his hockey stick that is no longer in production, then it is him changing his game to answer the critics. Hearing his interview a few days following the end of the season was in a way a bit of a let down in terms of explanation of the way he played.
After not being picked for Team Canada at the Olympics, many of his critics suddenly had a foot hold on complaints of the defensemen's style of play. I understand that, many think he is less of a defenseman and more of a forward on the blue line. But Green took that as a personal insult and changed his game to prove his critics wrong. What most of those who are Green haters fail to see, is that Green is a pretty good defender and a hell of an offensive threat. That is what he has always been, no more, no less. And that is what Caps' fans loved about him. But it got to Green, and he changed how he played at the worst possible moment, the playoffs.
You can't blame Green for everything, there were others that could have put forth a better effort in the post season. With hindsight 20/20, it is easy to pick apart where coaches and players went wrong. Like I always say, sometimes you lose when you play a game, it's what you learn from it and how you adjust for next time. That means looking forward with the lessons we have learned.
Tomorrow, I will take a look at what is ahead of the Capitals, and my thoughts on where the team should go next. That is cause to shake the hockey blues.
- Some more accolades for the Capitals have spewed out this week. The Players Association came out the finalist for the Ted Lindsey award, and much like the Hart finalist Alex Ovechkin is joined by Sidney Crosby and Henrik Sedin. George McPhee gets recognition for his work in the first ever General Manager award. Jose Theodore got the nod for the Bill Masterson award given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.