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Playoff seed: 1st

Capturing the Presidents’ Trophy, the Caps rolled over the rest of the NHL and were the clear favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They took a 3-1 lead on the Montreal Canadiens before a delay in getting back to Washington changed the course of the series and the franchise.

“We were on the tarmac in Montreal for a long time, we didn’t get in until 6:30 and then we were at the other terminal, so we didn’t get our cars until 7:30 after going through immigration and I was so tired I just said, ‘Let’s take the day off,’” Boudreau said. “Then everybody gets home by 8:30, they sleep till 2, they get up and eat, they’re still tired and they go back to bed. Because the next game, Game 5, we had two goals scored on us in the first six or seven minutes.”

The Caps lost Games 5, 6 and 7 as an offense that scored 46 more goals than any other team during the regular season was held to just three by Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

2010-11

Regular-season record: 48-23-11, 107 points

Playoff seed: 1st

Without defensemen Tom Poti (groin) and Dennis Wideman (right leg hematoma/compartment syndrome), the Caps made quick work of the Rangers with a 4-1 series win and had five days off before Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Already down in the series, the Caps went to overtime in Game 2 at home, when defenseman Scott Hannan’s poorly timed change allowed Vincent Lecavalier to give Tampa Bay a comfortable series lead.

“Bad change, in overtime,” Boudreau said. “We lose the game. It was a dumb play. Scott Hannan’s too smart to do that. And we’re not calling him off the ice from the other side of the ice. He does that.”

Defensemen John Carlson and Mike Green suffered hip injuries along the way, forcing journeyman minor leaguer Sean Collins into the lineup for Game 4. Even if his team had managed to stave off elimination, Boudreau knew it would have been over in five or six.

“We had a week off between beating the Rangers and they had come back on a high after winning three in a row. That’s what [Lightning general manager] Stevie Yzerman told George [McPhee, the Caps’ GM] at the end of the year. He said, ‘We were on such a high and we only had a day off.’”

2011-12

Regular-season record: 42-32-8, 92 points

Playoff seed: 7th

Story Continues →