I must be the only person in the world who isn’t surprised that the Caps blew it. I had a bad, awful feeling about the Habs-Caps matchup going into the series and I came out of it with that same bad feeling. To put it bluntly, I hated the matchup. The Habs had given Washington some trouble in the regular season, a bit more so than other playoff teams. If you recall, it was the Habs who ended the Caps’ 14-game winning streak. On paper, the Habs had no chance. They were midgets playing against the league’s top-scoring team. But they found a way.
Here are some reasons why I think the Caps blew their series and Alex Ovechkin’s Stanley Cup bid.
1 Jaroslav Halak. Yeah, I know, blame the opposing goalie because it makes everyone feel better about the Caps’ meltdown. But in this case, Halak stole the series. We really should have seen this one coming ever since he led Slovakia to their stellar fourth-place finish at the Olympics after dethroning the Swedes. Also, Halak was pretty darn good in the last few games of the regular season. Jacques martin probably looks like a genius for putting Halak back in.
2. Tomas Fleischmann. While everyone else was blaming the Caps’ struggles on guns, Mike Green and Alex Semin, Fleischmann silently choked. He had a strong regular season, and I’d expected to see more out of him than he did. I think he had, like, one lousy assist in the entire series. To the so-called experts, it’s not all Greenie and Sasha’s faults; you need to blame Flash, too.
3. Lack of secondary scoring. Two of the big guns, Alex Ovechkin and Nicky Backstrom, did their jobs. Each finished the series with ten points and plus players. They did their job; the second, third, and fourth lines did not. Well, let me rephrase that. Everyone on the second, third, and fourth lines failed to convert except for Eric Fehr. Fehr had a good series, but his linemates did not. The only other secondary guy who was decent was Boyd Gordon who was a critical part in two shorties that should have changed the series. Alas…they did not.
4. An atrocious power play. The really disappointing part of the Caps’ meltdown was that they scored one power play goal in the entire series. A team that had the league’s number-one regular season power play should not struggle like that. The Habs were undisciplined at times and they should have paid for it.
5. They fell into the trap. When you have a team that has amazing scoring, but not-so-amazing defense, you get the Washingotn Capitals. The Caps fell into a trap against the Habs. Montreal had better goaltending and more consistent defense. An offensive team is nothing if you can shut them down like the Habs showed.
Bottom-line, the Caps shouldn’t have lost the series. What they really need to do is get a shut-down defenseman who can get it done for them. Also, a good move wouold be to trade Alex Semin for Mike Ribeiro, but what do I know? I’m a Stars fan. 😛