Something is Wrong with Capitals
By Patrick Hoffman
**Originally drafted on April 16, 2018**
Something is clearly wrong with the Washington Capitals.
For a team that usually wins their division and finishes at or near the top of both the Eastern Conference and the National Hockey League, they have absolutely nothing to show for it.
The Capitals and their fans go into each and every season thinking that it is going to be their year. They have an extremely talented roster with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, and John Carlson and yet, the team cannot win when it matters most.
No one really knows who to blame. One could make a small case that it is the team's goaltending, but when you look at the numbers, it's not like the likes of Holtby, Varlamov, and Neuvirth were terrible.
Sure, the three netminders mentioned above allowed soft goals at the wrong time and have had games where they were off. However, for the most part, they did/have done what they needed to do to help their team win at the most important time of the year.
One could also blame the team's coaching. With a talented roster like this, a coach should be able to take them to at least the Eastern Conference Finals instead of either getting knocked out of the first or second round.
With that said, I think it is hard to blame the coach. When Bruce Boudreau was at the helm, the Caps had unbelievable regular seasons and were a scoring machine, but failing in the postseason should not have entirely been on his shoulders.
Current head coach Barry Trotz is in a somewhat similar situation. The Caps have been great under him in the regular season, but just like when Boudreau was the head coach, have come up short in the playoffs.
Should the team's leadership be blamed? Alex Ovechkin may be one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the game, but has he been a true team captain?
In the NHL, the team captain usually leads by example both on the ice and in the room. There is no doubt that Ovi leads by example on the ice as he is usually the team's best player every season.
In the room, however, no one really knows what he is like. Is he demanding? Does he yell? Does he hold his teammates accountable?
We do not know the answers to these questions because we are obviously not in the room. With that said, however, these are questions worth asking because as team captain, Ovi has not been able to lead his team to the promise land.
There are more questions than answers when it comes to this hockey team and their lack of success in the playoffs. These questions have been around for close to a decade, which means something is wrong.
Is it goaltending? Is it coaching? Is it leadership? Is it the culture?
If these questions do not get answered soon, things are going to change. It will probably result in Trotz being fired and perhaps some players being moved.
Whatever the problem is, it seems like the Caps will never be able to solve it.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.