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Question of the Day
ARLINGTON, VA. (AP) - A day after Alex Ovechkin and the top-seeded Washington Capitals were swept out of the playoffs, general manager George McPhee said he doesn’t anticipate significant changes _ including when it comes to coach Bruce Boudreau.
“I expect him to be back. He’s a good coach,” McPhee said Thursday at the team’s practice facility. “Someone said he’s not a ‘playoff coach.’ There’s no difference between a ‘playoff coach’ and a ‘regular-season coach.’ You’re either a good coach or you’re not. He’s a good coach.”
Washington lost all four games against the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals, including a 5-3 defeat in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
“Everybody in (the) organization is shocked,” Ovechkin said.
Added defenseman Karl Alzner: “We don’t really understand what happened.”
It’s the fourth consecutive season under Boudreau that the Capitals won a Southeast Division title, then lost to a lower-seeded team in the first or second round of the playoffs. His postseason record is 17-20, which translates to a .459 winning percentage _ far lower than his .679 mark (189-79-39) in the regular season.
As to the possibility of switching coaches, McPhee said: “Does it really change things in most cases?”
“It’s not up to me to think. … Those questions _ how can I answer them? And I can’t,” Boudreau said. “And I leave it up to somebody else or I’d go nuts.”
Addressing Capitals fans in a posting on his blog Thursday morning, team owner Ted Leonsis focused on his players’ shortcomings.
“In times like these people are emotional; angry; and demand change. I understand,” he wrote. “The best course of action for us though is to let a few days pass; be very analytic about what needs to be improved; articulate that plan; and then execute upon it.”
In their attempts to explain what went awry against Tampa Bay, both McPhee and Boudreau discussed at length various injuries to key players _ particularly puck-moving defensemen _ and what they described as a high level of parity in the NHL.
Defenseman Mike Green (hip flexor) missed Game 4, but defenseman John Carlson (hip pointer) and forward Mike Knuble (broken thumb) played hurt. Boudreau and McPhee said center Nicklas Backstrom (zero goals in the postseason) wasn’t injured, as far as they know.
Looking forward, McPhee said he thinks he has a good team in place.
“I don’t see major changes. … We’ll see what the summer brings,” he said.
“What we’re doing here, I believe, is putting a good team on the ice every year and hopefully one of these years we win it. But we’re in the mix every year,” McPhee said. “And it could be worse: We could be missing the playoffs.”
AP Sports Writer Joseph White contributed to this story.
Howard Fendrich can be reached at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
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