- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Capitals 2013: Has team’s window of opportunity to hoist the Cup closed?
When the Washington Capitals‘ season ended in 2010 with a stunning first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens, general manager George McPhee faced the question. After Bruce Boudreau’s run-and-gun Caps dominated the NHL for most of the regular season, it was all over in seven games.
“I said then, three or four years ago, no. And I don’t believe in that kind of stuff,” McPhee said. “I don’t know how anyone could. It would be a tough way to come to training camp thinking that the window’s closed on your team.”
It’s not an open and shut case. There’s no textbook definition of how long a team has to win a championship.
The tools are still there. Ovechkin is 27 and could experience a career renaissance under rookie coach Adam Oates. Backstrom and defenseman Mike Green are healthy after a tumultuous 2011-12 season. Braden Holtby could be a legitimate No. 1 goaltender. And young defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner are playing like veterans.
“Their window’s nowhere near being closed, I can tell you right now, because at key positions they’re really amped up to go a long way,” McGuire said.
But this isn’t the first time people have believed in the Caps. The Hockey News picked them to win it all last season, and instead Washington had the Dale Hunter experience and a second-round exit.
Now, expectations are all over the place, thanks in part to how much other teams in the Eastern Conference improved. The New York Rangers acquired Rick Nash, and the Carolina Hurricanes scooped up Alexander Semin and traded for Jordan Staal.
But the Caps don’t believe other contenders have passed them by.
“The way I kind of look at it, and it might sound a little arrogant, but I feel like teams have always looked at us that way because of guys like Ovi, Nicky, Greenie, Semin,” Alzner said. “Maybe now it seems more like a level playing field, almost in a way. I know we haven’t had any playoff success, but I think that all the teams are starting to realize you have a couple of those big-name guys to score often and then you’ve got to find the rest of the pieces.”
Alzner’s point that stings is that the Caps haven’t gotten past the second round with this group. It looked like the right mix each time, but something went wrong.
In 2010, Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak flustered them. In 2011, a barrage of injuries to defensemen hampered them. In 2012, Hunter’s ultraconservative style that gave the Caps a chance every night wasn’t enough to outlast the Rangers.
“All the years, we have a pretty good team, we have a good group of guys in the locker room. We just miss something; sometimes we just miss luck, sometimes we just relax when we get the lead,” Ovechkin said. “We’re just growing up like persons, I think. Everybody understand right now the chances you have every year, you have to use it.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow