First, let’s clear the air here. I am not on the “Alex Ovechkin Trade Bandwagon” like some other writers have pushed. The Capitals do not need to trade away their best player in franchise history to re-tool their roster.
Even in a “down” year, Ovechkin still leads the club in goals. Under the circumstances in the playoffs, Ovechkin was clearly not 100% in round 2 versus the Penguins. When at full strength, Ovechkin is still a game changer, and one of the best pure shooters in the NHL. As great as he is, he is still human and can still sustain injuries. Ovechkin is the heartbeat of the Capitals franchise and will be for the rest of his career.
Surrounding Ovechkin, in his era of dominance, have been a bunch of passenger players that continue to contribute nothing when it matters most. When I say “nothing,” I mean goals and points on the playoff game stats sheet.
Where would the Capitals be if the Capitals got contributions from all 4 lines in their playoff runs? Could they break through and get past the 2nd round? I think so.
I am not someone that completely disregards the regular season. The regular season is very important. Winning a division title and even a Presidents’ Trophy along the way are important and it should be the main goal for every team during the regular season. However, I believe that an individual player’s regular season performance can be overshadowed by how they perform in the playoffs.
There are a handful of Capitals, who have been with the club for many years, that have under-performed when it matters most.
Let’s play a game… I am going to throw out some individual playoff statistics at you. Let’s see if you can guess the Capitals player with those playoff statistics. If you cannot figure out the players, the answers will be at the end of this article.
PLAYOFF STATISTICS QUIZ
69 GP: 9 G, 21 A, 30 P, -12 RATING
36 GP: 6 G, 4 A, 10 P, +6 RATING
62 GP: 6 G, 5 A, 11 P, -9 RATING
64 GP: 3 G, 8 A, 11 P, EVEN
24 GP: 0 G, 4 A, 4 P, -1 RATING
A RE-TOOL AND NEW FACES ARE NEEDED
Let me re-iterate by saying that the Capitals do NOT need to blow this ship up. With the right tweaks, this roster can stay competitive and can stay in playoff contention under Alex Ovechkin.
Capitals management will have some tough decisions to make this summer involving their free agents. However, I feel Brian MacLellan needs to think long and hard about tenured Capitals who have been in the fold for the last number of years. Playoff scoring patterns are something that cannot be ignored. Players can perform when it matters most if they want to. If they are unable to perform when it matters most, it might be time for a change of scenery. The Capitals need playoff performers outside of their big 3 (Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Holtby). The Capitals need players that are willing to show up when it matters most. The Capitals need more drivers and less passengers in their lineup. With the current formula broken, the Capitals must change the people in order to possibly improve from their current round 2 playoff standing. The harsh reality of the current group of Capitals is that they have a bunch of under-performers when the times get tough. At the end of the day, a team’s success is measured by what the scoreboard says. At the end of the day, the NHL is a results business. Players are ultimately measured by goals and points and whatever other intangibles they bring on and off the ice.
By: George Foussekis
PLAYER A – Marcus Johansson
PLAYER B – Andre Burakovsky
PLAYER C – Jay Beagle
PLAYER D – Karl Alzner
PLAYER E – Dmitry Orlov