With the first round of the playoffs freshly finished—wow they start the second round fast eh?—we have a lot to look back on. For the first time in recent memory the top three seeds were knocked out in the first round, and Ottawa almost brought the fourth seed (Pittsburgh) to a game seven.
Last Friday I did a post about how the Devils season was a pretty big failure because of their acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk, in order to bolster their chances at a cup. But no team in the NHL would have been worse off with a first round ejection than the Washington Capitals.
The 2010 President Trophy winners (that seems to be a curse now doesn’t it) walked out of the first round with a game seven defeat at the hand of the eighth seeded Montreal Canadiens. They lead the league in goal differential by a mile (they finished at +85, the next closest team was Chicago with +62), and they have the most electrifying players in the game in Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom.
The Washington Capitals made a total of four moves trading away their 2nd, 6th and 7th draft picks along with Brian Pothier and Oskar Osala for a bunch of different players who they thought would help them to a long and deep playoff run. In the end I have been asked a few times (on the Banter) which season was more of a disappointment, the New Jersey Devils season or the Washington Capitals?
Join me after the jump for my analysis.
I’ll open the floor for all of you at the end of the story but I’ll give you my opinion on the matter here. When you finish the regular season with a 54-15-13 record for 121 points you have to get out of the first round of the playoffs. The Washington Capitals are without a doubt the most dangerous team in the NHL.
The Capitals have more star-power than some teams combined, they have arguably the best player in the game and they dominated in the regular season. They were hungry, after last year’s playoff exit how could you not be, and they were poised to take the East and ride to the Stanley Cup Finals. I don’t think anyone, let alone themselves, expected a first round exit.
But in the end the fall from grace, which not expected, isn’t entirely surprising. Granted I didn’t expect them to bow out in the first round, but I did think that the pressure and goaltending/defense issues would do them in, in the end. (It’s all documented on Rink Side Radio if you don’t believe me!)
The other issue with the Capitals making their first round exit is the NHL no longer being able to market around Ovechkin. The NHL probably would have loved to be able to follow Ovechkin deep into the playoffs, and then possibly give them an Alexander Ovechkin Cidney Crosby match-up again. Oh well I guess they will just have to keep following Crosby, ugh.
But if nothing else these playoffs have been brilliant and exciting, and as a hockey fan (who's team isn't part of them) they couldn't be any better.