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Perhaps the early struggles and late run to the playoffs should have been predictable for a rookie head coach, especially given the lockout and shortened training camp. In looking back at his first season running a team, Adam Oates might take all summer to hone his craft for next year and beyond.
Because the Washington Capitals were done before the final horn in Game 7 Monday night, those watching had some extra time to contemplate general manager George McPhee's work this offseason. But after the Caps became the only NHL team to make the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of the past six years and not reach at least the conference finals, don't expect much to look different when they open the 2013-14 season.
Easier said than done, of course. No one is going to hand the Caps a top-level player. Can they afford to sign one? Can they put together enough of a package to trade for one, even if it might cost them someone like Braden Holtby? If they can get one, they need to make sure they do it.
Given the tightness of the series, it was shocking that the Caps did not put up a fight in being eliminated. And the end unfolded in stunning fashion.
Going into Monday night's deciding Game 7, Nash had just one assist amid plenty of speculation that he's playing through injury.
Against a team with a more functional power play, Washington would already be done. The Rangers are 2-for-26 with the man advantage (including 0-for-3 when up five-on-three) through six games.
If 19-year-old rookie Tom Wilson wasn't wide-eyed during his 6:24 of uneventful ice time, he was afterward. He's unbeaten as a Cap, as Washington posted a 2-1 victory in overtime on Mike Ribeiro's first goal of the series
If the old cliché that a playoff series doesn't begin until the home team loses a game is to be believed, the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers haven't even gotten started. But it's not just that the Caps are 3-0 at Verizon Center and Rangers 2-0 at Madison Square Garden so far in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, it's that the location of the games has seemingly made all the difference.
The Caps managed to right themselves and climb out of a two-goal hole, but an ill-timed penalty by Jason Chimera and breakdowns in the defensive zone proved disastrous.
Even seeing Lundqvist in the postseason three of the past four years and enjoying some success against the 31-year-old didn't unlock too many secrets. What the Caps know is that it's not just about getting a lot of shots on net because he can shrug them off.
Braden Holtby didn't break much of a sweat in picking up his first career Stanley Cup playoff shutout Saturday. The Washington Capitals goaltender helped extend the New York Rangers' scoreless streak to 111 minutes and 16 seconds, but it wasn't like he had to do much to win Game 2
Mike Green’s eighth career overtime goal and first overtime playoff winner earned Washington a 2-0 series lead and kept its home ice advantage ahead of Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Capitals were in this position two seasons ago and went on to beat the Rangers four games to one in the quarterfinals.
It's hard to believe Rule 63.2 would make the difference in a playoff game, actually in the Caps' favor. Though as they showed in Saturday's Game 2 overtime victory against the Rangers, they're well-positioned to take advantage of one of the few times officials can't swallow their whistles.
Holtby proceeded to stop all 29 shots he faced the rest of the game, and the Capitals’ offense matched that production in Washington’s 3-1 win. It was a promising start to Holtby’s second career playoff appearance and an extension of how well he played during the Capitals’ late-season run to the Southeast Division championship.
Dale Hunter's 2012 team flipped a switch when the playoffs began. Adam Oates' team showed in Game 1 against the Rangers that nothing changed from the regular season.
"That part is frustrating, but I thought our guys did a very good job of keeping their composure through it," Holtby said. "We won't use it as an excuse."
“Not that we played bad, I just don’t think we executed quite as well as we had at home,” goaltender Braden Holtby said of losses at New York.