By Jay Sekulow
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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.
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.
The 35-year-old is the Caps' Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee, as selected by the Washington chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."
On Tuesday night he missed his 34th game of the year, and there's no telling when the 29-year-old forward will return. It might not be this season.
Forward saw Dr. Michael Brunt and another specialist this week, and coach Adam Oates says doctors are “having a tough time identifying exactly” what the problem is.
Ward hosted an advance screening of the movie "42" at Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights and gave a speech about what the number and Robinson meant to him.
General managers have voted to approve hybrid icing — racing to the faceoff dots instead of the puck — as one way to prevent injuries, but it's hard to find a consensus on the best way to handle the situation.
John Erskine hopes to play by the weekend. Tomas Kundratek could be close to returning. Soon the Washington Capitals could have just about a healthy blue line again, which could require some roster juggling.
A pair of concussions delayed Orlov's 2013 NHL debut, but his teammates know from last season what the young defenseman can do.
Braden Holtby was clearly the man, starting 13 of the Washington Capitals' past 14 games, but Neuvirth will get the nod Thursday night at the Carolina Hurricanes.
With Cameron Schilling joining Tomas Kundratek and Steve Oleksy in the lineup, half the Caps' defense corps was with Hershey when the NHL season began.
Had the Caps not been able to erase a three-goal deficit to beat the Boston Bruins in overtime, they would have fallen into last place in the Eastern Conference.
Behind solid goaltending and timely offense, Washington put together another victory to be proud of. The Southeast Division lead is just four points away, but the Caps remain in last place.
Bryce Salvador questioned himself. His entire career, coaches told the defenseman to stand in front of the net. Then Peter DeBoer came to the New Jersey Devils last season, armed with a new system that transformed the team's philosophy.
There's a saving grace in the Caps' 5-2-1 record against opponents out of the playoff picture because without those points they would be in an even deeper hole. But sitting 15th in the East isn't a spot they want to be in with two games coming up Thursday and Saturday against the defending conference-champion New Jersey Devils.
Defenseman Tom Poti won't be back, he said Thursday.
"It's been tough, kind of in and out of the lineup a lot and not playing too many minutes," Poti said. "A bad day in the NHL is a good day anywhere else. Just keep working hard and maybe I'll get a chance."