The fall of the Washington Capitals

With their 2-1 loss Friday night to the New Jersey Devils, the Washington Capitals playoff chances are all but dead. [ RMNB ]

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The Capitals shocking fall in the last five seasons is as baffling as it gets. In 2009, their winning % was .738. Now,they are barely .500.


But the fall is much more granular than that. JapersRink had a great look at a disastrous March:

The Caps were outscored, 30-22 (not including an even strength/empty net goal).Only twice in 15 games did the Caps score more than two even strength goals, and they outscored their opponents at even strength only three times, all of them in the first five games of the month.

Who is to blame?

There are three people to blame for the Capitals failings.

1. George Mcphee

Is there a GM that has done a worse over the last three seasons than Mcphee? While his firing of Bruce Boudreau in 2011 was probably justified, he has not been able to find the right leader since. The Dale Hunter move didn’t pan out and Adam Oates has done nothing to help the Capitals.

But Mcphee deserves most of the blame, if not all. There isn’t one move that has worked out over the last three years. One horrid move for example was trading Semyon Varlamov for picks in 2011. Varlamov has starred in Colorado. He has a save percentage of .926, while posting 39 wins. Varlamov was traded to make room for Braden Holtby, who just has not panned out.

The Capitals just don’t appear to be put together with any type of strategy. And that is on Mcphee 100%.

2. Alex Ovechkin

NHL: Dallas Stars at Washington Capitals

It is hard to completely blame a guy who leads the NHL in goal scoring, but when that guy is also a -35, then there is something really, really wrong. The trade question has started and not making the playoffs is going to come back on the players. It has to. And the leader is Ovechkin.

3. Adam Oates

Yea, Adam Oates is probably going to get fired. He hasn’t built the Capitals into anything. In fact, they look confused. He called out A.O. earlier this week, we don’t think that is as big as a deal as some, but it is still a problem. A bigger problem is Oates is losing. If Oates was winning in the regular season, and losing in the playoffs he’d be one thing: Dan Bylsma.

But not even getting to the playoffs is unacceptable.

Where they go from here

The NHL needs the Capitals in the playoffs. It is a great market with one of the biggest names in it. Not having the Capitals there is a disaster. So expect heads to roll. If George Mcphee keeps his job we’ll be shocked. Oates is gone too. You don’t trade Ovechkin, you bring someone in that knows how to build around him.

This season has been a giant step back for the Capitals, and now they must rebuild after the fall.

About Derek Rocco

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