What Went Wrong: Why Did the Capitals Suffer a First-Round Stumble Versus the Carolina Hurricanes?


The Washington Capitals season is now in the books, as they lost in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes in a wild seven games.  The series was very competitive, but the Capitals did not catch the breaks in these playoffs that they did a season ago during their Stanley Cup run.

It was a crazy first round, as many of the Stanley Cup favorites were bounced early.  The Capitals are still in shock, and the fans are now wondering what went wrong.


Capitals fans have seen this before, but there were instances in the series where the Capitals powerplay failed to convert in critical moments.

The beginning of Game 7 was a prime example of failing to convert in critical moments.  The Capitals had a chance to extend their lead early in the first period after going up 2-0 quickly.  They failed to go up 3-0, and instead, gave up a critical shorthanded goal that kept the Hurricanes alive in the game.  A 3-0 hockey game has a different feel and control to it than a 2-1 hockey game.


The Capitals were banged up in the series against Carolina.  During player exit interviews, some players acknowledged that they played through various ailments.

The most devastating injury to the Capitals came in Game 4 of the series as T.J. Oshie broke his clavicle thanks to a questionable hit from Warren Foegele.  In addition to Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, Jakub Vrana all expressed playing through some minor injuries through the playoffs.

While the players will not use injuries as an excuse, the regular season and postseason are long grinds.  The Capitals have played a lot of hockey over the last year.  It is a physical sport that takes its toll on the body.


The Capitals struggled in the series to get a lot of shots on goal.  Carolina has a quick defensive group that can transition the puck very well.  The Capitals averaged just 27 shots per game in the series.

There were many instances in this series where the Capitals went 20+ minutes without mustering much in terms of shots on goal and offensive zone pressure.  The Capitals were not able to get many second and third chances around the net and did not crash the net well in this series.

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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5 Responses to What Went Wrong: Why Did the Capitals Suffer a First-Round Stumble Versus the Carolina Hurricanes?

  1. Graham Eddy says:

    umm… this article does not address what was the most glaring issues:
    1. The Powerplay looked great. When we could actually get set up. The issue was zone entries and the Caps did not adjust,
    2. When the Caps brought the puck into the o-zone they did what they had been doing all season. Drive up the wing, Draw a defender and make a cross pass to move the goalie laterally. Except from game 1 on the Canes didn’t bite. They stayed in position and just picked off the cross ice pass and went the other way..time after time. The obvious fix for this is to drive up the wing and take a shot on goal. So what if the goalie is in position. That’s why you crash the net and play for rebounds and deflections. Except for the goal that didn’t count in game 6 THE CAPS DID NOT SCORE ONE DIRTY GOAL ALL SERIES.
    3. The Caps had no answer for the pressure of the Canes. We tried a few different things but the Canes stayed consistent. Instead of wearing out the Canes with our checks (what we did in 2018 and tried to do in 2019) the Canes wore out the Caps with their pressure. By games 6-7 we looked tired and slow. News flash. When two Canes players attack the puck…there is a Cap player open. We just never could get them the puck.

    I am not a coach and Todd and company have more hockey knowledge in their finger nails than I have in my entire body…but for the life of me I do not know why we didn’t make these adjustments. It’s like we had the attitude that we were the champs and the other team had to adjust to us… seems like hubris to me. We were out coached plain and simple.

  2. Day One Caps Fan says:

    I’d rather look forward: Ovechkin has TWO seasons to go and not a minute more. Caps need to fix everything and quickly.

  3. Tim says:

    No excuses. Carolina was banged up too. The bottom line, they were out coached and their goalie was better.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes two great points here hard to disagree! Out coached and yes their goalie was superior. Well the goalie has one year left on his contract and maybe give Reirden one more year.

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