That was a great series between the Caps and Rangers despite it being very tough defensively. The 2 teams couldn’t have been more equal. Love them or hate them, the Caps really learned how to play playoff hockey despite losing. Dale Hunter did a tremendous job.
But having said all that…the Caps still didn’t get out of the 2nd round. This team is now 2-4 in game 7’s since 2008. They haven’t made it out of the 2nd round in the Ovechkin era. Now, I think they took a major step in these playoffs, but I doubt the critics will see it that way.
Great news however for Caps fans. This team is likely more setup then any other team in the league. 2 1st round picks in this year’s draft, have seemingly found there goaltender (although don’t be shocked if Holtby doesn’t live up to expectations next year and if that happens don’t sell your stock on him), Ovechkin despite not getting much ice time in the playoffs was pretty clutch and will learn how to be a more complete player having gone through this.
Some would also say that Mike Green has finally figured it out….don’t buy that stock (I’m all about the stock market today). Green played great with D partner Roman Hamrlik. Just like Dion Phaneuf did, just like P.K. Subban did. Hamrlik doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a VERY solid defenseman. He maybe didn’t live up to expectations in this league as a number 1 d-man, but he has been very underrated in the back 9 of his career. Good news for the Caps is they have Hammer for another year.
So what to do in the offseason? Well, George McPhee stays and I guess we will find out about Hunter. Of course the Caps want him back but if Dale doesn’t want to be there he won’t be. If he doesn’t return I believe there are a lot of good candidates out there for the job, namely Craig MacTavish and Marc Crawford.
Now I would cover Vokoun and Semin, but I doubt either guy even recieves an offer from the team so the bigger question is who will McPhee target to replace them in the lineup? Much like the Vancouver Canucks, the Caps could use more grit and character in the lineup. They don’t need it as badly as the Canucks do, but still need more. And much like the Canucks, Shane Doan would be a great target should he not re-sign in Phoenix (any team could use Doan though so I really should shutup about him).
But I would suggest a better route for the Caps would be to wheel and deal. I could see them packaging up there own 2nd round pick with the 2 1st round picks they have to really make a splash at the draft. I know I always harp on this but they could really use an upgrade down the middle. They haven’t had a legit 2nd line centre since Fedorov left. And I know he was just a shell of his former self in Washington, but he was still phenomenal defensively and could still add some offense. Laich is somewhat that guy, but I believe you want him as your 3rd line centre, and bring in a guy that could bring that same 200 foot/gritty game with a little more offense. They have 2 1st round picks, Cody Eakin, and a D man to deal so McPhee should be able to get that done.
I do worry that McPhee won’t do much, because he normally doesn’t. He has done such a great job loading up the system, but he is 1 more dissapointment away from losing that job. I would assume he will make some big splashes this offseason. If he does, this team could finally make that jump people have been waiting for them to take.
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