- - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Not even the Grand Guru of Success could help the Washington Capitals.

Here’s what Tony Robbins — “the life coach dedicated to helping people achieve their dreams” — wrote on Linkedin several weeks ago after he had met with the Washington Capitals for three hours and, he thought, blessed them with his formula for success.

“Had the honor to work with the NHL’s Washington Capitals for nearly 3 hours on Monday!,” Robbins wrote. “The team came out blazing on Tuesday night and destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1. Even the game’s commentator noted, “Caps are magnificent tonight, truly a clinic.” Congratulations Caps — looking forward to watching your post season success!”

I would assume that the Grand Guru of Success was taking credit for the Caps’ performance in that regular season game.

But I doubt Robbins is going to be boasting any time soon about the results of Game 2 or Game 3 of the Caps’ first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against those same Toronto Maple Leafs.

You know, the best-of-seven series where the Capitals are suddenly in a 2-1 hole, with a critical Game 4 coming up Wednesday night in Toronto.

And don’t look for glowing testimonials from Caps fans on Robbins‘ website, like the one from the business owner who writes: “He was so good at catching me in the lies I told myself. This year I will be doubling my income. Give it a try. It will absolutely change your life.”

Or not.

“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you,” Robbins has testified. “If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”

You mean all this pain — one playoff disappointment after another — and the Capitals haven’t figured out how to use it?

I think it’s going to take more than three hours with Tony Robbins to fix this.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz thought he had it fixed. He talked about the “room,” referring to the leadership in the Capitals locker room, and how it has grown into a culture of winning since he took over three years ago.

Then this team — the NHL’s President’s Trophy winners for the best record in the league during the season — barely wins Game 1 in overtime before their home crowd. Then they lose the next two and now find themselves down 2-1 in the series to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that, according to Tony Robbins, his pupils had “destroyed” weeks earlier.

“They’re capitalizing on their moments, we’re not,” Trotz said.

Failure to score on a 5 on 3 advantage would be one of those moments.

I think Robbins had something to say about that.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped,” he once said.

What is wrong with the Capitals? Like Dennis Quaid said as Doc Holliday in “Wyatt Earp,” “What have you got?”

They’re getting out-hustled and outplayed.

“We were just on our heels, not being assertive, not being confident,” Matt Niskanen told reporters after Monday night’s 4-3 overtime loss in Game 3 in Toronto.. “They took it to us. They outplayed us in the third period.”

And, according to some, they are being outcoached.

CSN Mid Atlantic Capitals analyst and former player Alan May, appearing on The Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Tuesday morning, suggested Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock is winning the battles on the ice.

“I think the adjustments aren’t there,” May responded. “I think the way that this is being coached by Mike Babcock right now, I think Mike Babcock is running the Capitals‘ show right now. He’s changing their players, when you look at what’s going on, with the line deployments. Alexander Ovechkin only had 15 minutes last night. I thought Alexander Ovechkin was flying, and he needed to be on the ice with [T.J.] Oshie and [Nicklas] Backstrom a lot more, 5 on 5.”

Under-utilizing Ovechkin doesn’t make sense, he said.

“You still have to put him on the ice, I don’t care about the penalties,” May said. “Fifteen minutes throughout the entire game is not enough. He’s got to play more. Everybody’s going to point the fingers at that damn guy, and there’s a lot of guys that aren’t pulling their weight. But I’m telling you what: Ovechkin’s pulling his weight, Backstrom’s pulling his, T.J.’s pulling his. Other players need to step up.

“When you have the best goal-scorer in hockey, and maybe the best line in hockey through the regular season, put them on the ice and let them do what they do,” May said. “You have to score more goals to win the series. The Caps aren’t scoring the goals to win the series right now because the top line’s not where they need to be, and that’s on the ice.”

Barry Trotz wouldn’t be the first Capitals coach to diminish Ovechkin’s role in the playoffs. Dale Hunter turned him into a part-time player in the 2012 playoffs. Arguably, that was the best playoff-style hockey the Capitals have played in the Ovechkin era.

You know playoff style hockey, don’t you? It’s something like this:

“Once you get into the playoffs, the seeding doesn’t really matter,” Toronto’s Auston Matthews told reporters. “It’s who wants it more.”

I think Robbins had something to say about this as well:

“There are a lot of talkers in the world. There are a lot of people who know what’s right and what’s powerful, yet still aren’t producing the results they desire. It’s not enough to talk the talk. You’ve got to walk the talk.”

• Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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