The Washington Capitals just pissed away their initial-spherical Japanese Convention collection against the Florida Panthers. The President’s Trophy winners were on the ropes in a few straight video games. And the Panthers gained all 3 of all those postseason contests in succession, two in time beyond regulation and just one immediately after trailing 3-, to be the only crew from the east to advance devoid of a Sport 7.
It’s the fourth straight to start with-round exit for the Caps, all coming due to the fact the team’s Stanley Cup triumph in 2018. It took Washington practically a few yrs to acquire a regulation playoff sport through that stretch immediately after acquiring swept by the Islanders in 2020 and successful just one playoff game final yr, in time beyond regulation, in a 4-1 drubbing from Boston.
This playoff exit for the Capitals is distinctive in a post-Stanley Cup universe. It was not a full upset (Carolina in 2019) or becoming outplayed in every way, like what occurred the past two seasons. Washington experienced all the resources to take down the best crew from the common season, and possible do a lot more harm, as neither the Rangers nor Penguins have seemed impressive and are inclined to second-round postseason exits.
Was the lack of fight demonstrated by the Capitals what the group is able of with out Tom Wilson, who was damage early in Video game 1 and didn’t engage in in the rest of the series? Or is it an indicator of a a lot larger dilemma? I’m fearful it’s the latter. Washington is not having any young. The main of gamers from the 2018 Stanley Cup operate are locked into contracts following year and, barring a blockbuster trade, will not be leaving the nation’s cash.
Alongside the Capitals’ roster obtaining extra grey hair, fresh new younger pups that can develop into the subsequent generation’s stars have not been brought in. Many promising prospective clients have been traded absent for players who want to chase a Stanley Cup now, mismanaged or launched all collectively. Where by would Washington be with Filip Forsberg? The veteran he was traded for, 40-calendar year-aged Martin Erat, 13 yrs Forsberg’s elder, hasn’t played in the NHL considering that 2015. That’s the most important of a number of perplexing choices by former standard supervisor George McPhee, which are manifesting now.
Current GM Brian MacLellan hasn’t accomplished significantly to reduce Funds 1 Arena from turning into the NHL’s senior middle. The indispensable Washington 6 of Alex Ovechkin (extra of him in a instant), Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Wilson and John Carlson has an normal age of more mature than 32. That reaches almost 34 without Wilson with just about 6 game titles of proof as to what that looks like in this collection.
The Capitals have 15 gamers less than experienced contracts that are absolutely free agents this summer time, with six remaining unrestricted. The only 1 the workforce desires to resign is Justin Schultz. Yes, he’s 31, and only a calendar year young than the aging core. He didn’t exhibit it at all this yr and can be component of Washington’s prime D pairing with Carlson. As great as the reunion with Marcus Johansson was, the group could get a more youthful, less expensive and far better player quickly.
Of the nine restricted free of charge brokers, a number of should really be back again with Washington, the greatest remaining llya Samsonov. He gained the No. 1 location in internet likely into subsequent period. Was he phenomenal in the playoffs? Certainly not. Was the 25-year-aged Russian the reason the Capitals lost the series? Once more, unquestionably not. Blame the deficiency of effort and hard work from the fellas in entrance of him, and Florida being an all-time resilient staff. The Capitals really should convey back again Vitek Vanacek as effectively as Samsonov’s backup. Neither one is the long lasting alternative in target if they really do not boost but maintaining them alongside one another is the best quick-time period option.
The most applicable detail about the Capitals is (and has been due to the fact 2004) Alex Ovechkin. The best objective scorer in the record of hockey will chase down Gordie Howe for 2nd all-time on the NHL’s all-time ambitions checklist early next season, then he commences the very long road to Wayne Gretzky. The Good 8 will be 37 the following time he plays in an NHL activity. You see the grey beard. He continue to hasn’t dropped a action. And this playoff exit does not sit on his shoulders additional than any individual else on the staff, and doesn’t outline his legacy.
It can be real that it is a disservice to Ovechkin that the Capitals made a person operate previous the second spherical so significantly in his tenure with the workforce, although concurrently accurate that Ovechkin does not have the trait of playoff disappointment with him. These exits would hurt Ovechkin way a lot more with out that 2018 Cup. He was impressive in that postseason. It displays he can do it.
The regarding craze for Ovechkin and the core of Washington’s staff that surrounds him is how the up coming male up is not in place. Even even worse, who is the applicant to be the next marketable star for the franchise? There is not a excellent one. Connor McMichael was the only ahead beneath the age of 27 to enjoy for the Capitals in the series, only bought his place owing to Wilson’s harm, and was approximately invisible. Maybe Hendrix Lapierre? He desires a world of progress prior to having on that highlight.
Devoid of that set celebrity or set of All-Star-caliber gamers in the organization, the Capitals relevancy in the NHL will fade, if it hasn’t commenced to do so now. Washington has been a person of the most reliable teams in the league due to the fact the switch of the century and has been an excellent desired destination for cost-free brokers to indicator and try out to earn a championship. That distinct path isn’t so pristine anymore. And it puts the Capitals in a tough place with no very clear security web.
The solution is not to blow out the core of this workforce. Ovechkin and Backstrom have clearly stated they want to retire in DC prior to going to the Corridor of Fame. Receiving rid of Wilson or Oshie would be issues just as large as buying and selling away Forsberg. The reply is not to rid the workforce of Carlson or Kuznetsov, but for the ideal rate, particularly a verified in-their-primary superstar, MacLellan would be dumb not to hear. The only situation is, what workforce would be willing to make that trade? Very good luck discovering that trade husband or wife.