Brian MacLellan: “We Didn’t Finish Games. Games 4, 5, 6, Probably Should Have Won All Of Them”

Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan held his final media availability for the 2021-22 season on Sunday. He spoke about the regular season, the postseason, the goaltending situation, injuries and potential upcoming off-season changes.

On The Season

“I think we’re still digesting it. Disappointed. I thought we did a lot of positive things to put ourselves in a position to beat the number one team in the East and maybe even the league. We didn’t get it done. We didn’t finish games. Games 4, 5, 6, probably should have won all of them,” said MacLellan.

“We have a lot of experience, we’re a veteran team. A lot of positives got us in the spot to win games, and we didn’t close them out. So it’s disappointing in that aspect.”

MacLellan said it was “basically mistakes, lack of execution. And I think some of those mistakes were made by some our key guys, too. So it’s frustrating that way.”

On Potential Roster Moves

MacLellan said the team will “explore changes. I don’t think anything is off the table. We’re going to talk to different teams and monitor the trade market. We’re gonna identify free agents. We gotta figure out our goalie situation. We got two RFA (restricted free agents) guys. So we got to make a decision on what to do there.”

On Goaltending

“Inconsistent, I think it has been. I don’t think it was the reason we lost the series. I thought Sammy played well. Vitek played good in the first game. Sammy played pretty good. I don’t think it’s the reason we didn’t beat Florida. So it’s positive for the guys. During the year it was probably in and out, which is expected for inexperienced goalies, I think,” said MacLellan. “I think both have been pretty good, but not great.”

MacLellan said they would explore potential changes in goaltending. He said there are a couple of free agents, but there are not a lot of potential options available in free agency.

Both Samsonov and Vanecek are arbitration eligible.

On Injuries

Nicklas Backstrom

“We’re going through options for him to remedy. He’s put in a lot of work and effort to come back this year. It still isn’t the way I think he wants it, so we are going to look at options.”

Asked if it was possible Backstrom’s career was in jeopardy, MacLellan did not directly answer and said:“I think he’s going to explore all options here. He wants it to be better. He wants to be more physically comfortable when he plays, so he’s going to explore it.”

Tom Wilson

“He wasn’t gonna come back (in the series). They’re having exit medicals, they’ll make a decision here over the next day or two.” MacLellan said surgery was on the table, but doubted the start of next season was in jeopardy for Wilson.

On Core Guys And Youth

MacLellan was asked if the team was slow and needed an infusion of speed. He disagreed. “I think we need a youth injection more than a speed injection. I’m not buying that we’re slow” said MacLellan. “Speed wise, I don’t know that Florida is faster than us. I think they maybe play a little faster, but actual speed, I think we’re just as fast as them.”

”I think there’s opportunities. I think McMichael’s role will expand, Marty will get to the next level. I think we got some guys, Protas, Leason, Axel, Snively, that have shown us enough that they warrant an opportunity to play.”

On Coach Laviolette 

Regarding potential extension talks with coach Peter Laviolette, who is entering the last year of his deal, MacLellan said: “I think we’re going to keep that between management and the coaching staff.”

MacLellan went on to praise Laviolette’s coaching job for the season and the playoffs. He said he thought Laviolette did a good job this season and had a good game plan in the playoffs that worked well when it was executed.

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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9 Responses to Brian MacLellan: “We Didn’t Finish Games. Games 4, 5, 6, Probably Should Have Won All Of Them”

  1. Franky619 says:

    Yeah you should have. It’s been that way all year and guess what, it will be the same next year if you keep Laviolette.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know. Is this the same can of bs we get every year?

    • Marky says:

      It is, but it’s really the smart thing to do with the likes of Ovi, Backy, Carlson, Oshie, Orlov…He needs to add a goaltender, a stoudt D man and maybe another forward. Then with McMichael and the other young guys added in, the Caps should be a playoff team next year again. Missing playoffs and rebuilding can be a long, hard road and I don’t think any of us want to sit thru that yet. My opinion is in another year or two they might think about it seriously but I believe they should take one or two more shots at this before burning it down.

  3. Michael Coleman says:

    Try to bring back Korn to work with the Goaltenders

  4. Matt says:

    We played 3 on 5 in the offensive zone. Our D was afraid to get beat so they didn’t pinch. That was because of Floridas speed. We had to dump & chase while Florida entered the zone at will. Once again because of their speed. We couldn’t complete passes because of Floridas speed. Face offs were abysmal at best. Icing the puck was constant. The Johansson trade was a bust. Backy & Carly need to be swapped for a top center & faster blue liners. Bring in a lefty shot for the power play opposite Ovi’s office. Change out the boards. The fast teams have lively boards.

  5. Scottlew73 says:

    Duh, unless next headline tied to GM BM is “former caps GM” nothing coming out of his mouth is worth listening to!
    Carlson has been one of most overrated defensemen in game over last four years,now when doesn’t have consistent good partner he looks pretty human!
    Look @ fact one of your prospects that was in Hershey last couple seasons signed in Europe instead of wasting another years “seasoning” in AHL, as sign even players are sick of current GM!
    The fact that some of his “wise” decisions are now either LTIR or considering retirement are clues he’s not smart enough to do job any longer.

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