Caps Can’t Find Footing on Big Stage
The following is a guest article by Lori Russo. You can catch up with Lori on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lorirusso.
When NHL Digest invited me to write a guest post with reaction to Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, I jumped at the chance to contribute. I truly believed the Caps would pull off a win and I could write about the little team that could, after years of painful and controversial rebuilding, finally advance to the Stanley Cup Conference Finals in dramatic fashion. Ovie the Hero. Varly the Wonder Kid. Boudreau the Unexpected Savior. The storyline was just so good.
Last night’s game certainly did unfold in dramatic fashion – just not the way anyone expected it to. The spark that brought new life to the Caps last season with the arrival of Bruce Boudreau and propelled the team into Round 2 of this year’s playoffs on the shoulders of a rookie goaltender was notably absent. With the exception of Ovechkin’s breakaway and bulldozing hit on Brooks Orpik, and early efforts by Simeon Varlamov, it became clear very quickly that the Caps were simply outmatched by their opponents.
The team could not create traffic in front of Mark Andre Fleury or clear congestion in front of Varlamov. It couldn’t connect in the neutral zone, and despite tough lessons from the past, just couldn’t break the bad habit of drawing unnecessary penalties. While held to only three for the entire game, the Caps infractions were glaring compared to the Pens’ display of discipline and composure. The Caps simply allowed themselves to outplayed on every front. Washington fans expecting a fairytale ending to this dramatic series left the arena – some before the end of the game – in stunned silence.
There is, and will be, a great deal of discussion about fatigue, injuries and other circumstances that led the Caps to the end of the road last night, but the bottom line, in my opinion, is that the team just isn’t ready to take it to the next level. Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins served as a clear reminder that the team’s lengthy rebuilding process still is not complete. The lack of cohesion will undoubtedly be addressed in the off season and new faces surely will appear in the lineup in October.
Caps fans must continue to be patient as the team finds its footing. They should be prepared to wait another season or two, and be ready to endure a few more heartbreaks, before expecting more than what they saw this year.
As always, comments are appreciated!