The Washington Times - May 13, 2012, 10:15AM

NEW YORK | Even as he talked about Alex Ovechkin’s leadership through energetic emotional play and compared Matt Hendricks to Ryan Callahan, Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner spent much of this season looking and sounding like future captain material.

At just 23 years old, Alzner is always willing to talk after tough losses and not afraid to be blunt with his criticism, which is why his thoughts after Saturday night’s season-ending defeat carry a lot of weight. He talked about not living up to expectations and how he felt the Caps could have advanced.

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It’s by far the most frustrating loss ever that I’ve had to face. Nothing against the Rangers, they’re a good team, but we never should have lost that series,” Alzner said. “We’re a great team, we had a chance to win. We had lots of good opportunities. We had a power play at the end of the game. You could say a million things about that power play, none of them good. We had a chance and it’s very, very frustrating.”

A few minutes later Alzner was asked if he felt the Caps should’ve beaten New York, in Game 7 and in the series.

I thought we should have won. We didn’t play like we should have won, I don’t think,” Alzner said. “We didn’t play our best game, didn’t have enough fight, enough grit. Didn’t battle for pucks enough, had a power play that was awful it’s really too bad that in a game of this magnitude we stunk the bed pretty much. It’s just not good enough for us.”

It was a stark contrast to Brooks Laich, who lauded his teammates for playing hard, and to Roman Hamrlik, who said the Caps brought their “A-game” Saturday night.

Talking about the Rangers’ defense, Alzner again offered a blunt, candid assessment of he and his fellow blue-liners on the other side.

You could tell, they amped up their game like they should in a Game 7,” he said. “We didn’t do it enough.”

On the season at large, Alzner called it an underachievement.

We’re probably going to view it as a failure, just because we didn’t do what we thought we should do,” he said.