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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.
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.
Ribeiro was second on the Caps in points (13 goals and 36 assists for 49) behind only Hart Trophy candidate Alex Ovechkin. Ribeiro was the Caps' first-half MVP, taking the load off Nicklas Backstrom and other stars who weren't producing early.
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.
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.
Alex Ovechkin can't get away from New York Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. No matter if it's at Verizon Center or Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals captain will have to deal with being the focal point for the rest of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Replays showed Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson made mistakes on the play that led to Derek Stepan's goal at the 13:35 mark of the third period Monday night.
Washington again failed to take a 3-0 series lead, a feat that has never been accomplished in 21 playoff series in franchise history. Instead, the Rangers have life going into Game 4 Wednesday night.
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 was one of the biggest stories in the playoffs last year as he helped carry the Caps to within a victory of the Eastern Conference finals by putting up a 1.95 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. At 22 years old, he showed the poise of a veteran.
The power play did yield a goal by Alex Ovechkin that tied the score in the second period, but it was a gritty penalty kill that turned things around and gave the Caps the series lead over the Rangers.
A couple of weeks ago, Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy had a fresh set of stitches in his lower lip. They're gone now. Taking their place are a couple of scrapes that will probably be followed by a bruise on his right cheek. That's what happens when you take a puck to the face from close range.
The Capitals' reputation as a team that can't get it done in the playoffs is well-established. Here's a look at how each playoff exit happened, with some help from ex-coach Bruce Boudreau.
After a victory late in the regular season that included two goals by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom was asked if it felt like the "good old days" when the franchise cornerstones powered a high-scoring team. "It depends how it is in the playoffs," he said. "And we weren't that successful in the playoffs in the past."
"We gotta try to improve, get better as a group, as a team and I'm sure the management will look at all the players what kind of things we did," Backstrom said. "If they're happy with it and they believe in us they're going to stick with it, otherwise there might be changes. I don't know. That's how it works in this business, you've just got to face reality."
"Maybe learn how to play in the playoffs, I would say," center Nicklas Backstrom said.