The Washington Capitals have once again proven that having the best regular season record in the NHL doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the playoffs.
The Capitals were ousted on Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to three in a game seven gag job that were it not so commonplace, would have stunned the capacity crowd at the Verizon Center.
The Caps had roared back from the brink of elimination when a cheap shot knocked Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby out of the game last Monday. The bad boys from D.C. roared back to take the next two games – one decisively – and had the home ice advantage for the finale.
But they once again came up empty.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 11, 2017
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stood on his head in turning back a bombardment of Capitals shots, a combination of steely nerves, experience and damned good luck. Washington shooters will be having nightmares for quite some time on how they were unable to get the puck past Fleury.
The 2-0 triumph that catapulted defending champion Pittsburgh into an Eastern Conference finals series against the Ottawa Senators likely also sent the doomstruck Capitals into an offseason of soul-searching and a likely shakeup.
There has been no more disappointing a player than Russian sniper Alexander Ovechkin who will probably be slapped with the goat horns over another failure to play up to his mega-contract.
While Ovechkin had an excuse for underachieving this year – he played through a nasty leg injury – he is becoming symbolic of the team’s annual playoff flameouts.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) May 11, 2017
In commentary after the game, ESPN analyst Barry Melrose suggested that the Caps should trade Ovechkin because “he can’t win in Washington”, this is especially the case when it comes to the team’s long-suffering fans.
Running Ovechkin out of town would be a big hit for the Caps to absorb but you can win the President’s Trophy by racking up most points every year and it matters naught if the goal is the Stanley Cup. At this point, fans would probably be happy even getting out of the second round.
Ovechkin would likely bring a huge return in exchange for a team that is looking to get over the hump an needs more offense.
Will Washington pull the trigger? Whether or not the answer is yet, expect changes before the puck drops for real again in October.