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This yr was alleged to be completely different for the Washington Capitals, however for Alex Ovechkin and his President Trophy-winning teammates, it adopted an all too acquainted theme.
Head coach Barry Trotz sported the deepest Capitals crew in current reminiscence and it was a well-oiled machine within the common season, ending with a 56-18-6 general document and 121 factors because the NHL’s greatest crew.
Washington appeared prepared to beat its playoff demons this season, however it lived via a nightmarish spring as soon as once more.
Nick Bonino scored in time beyond regulation of Sport 6 to carry the Penguins into the Japanese Convention Ultimate and provides the Capitals one other offseason to stew over what may have been. Ovechkin, very like his head coach, has by no means made it to the third spherical and has suffered heartbreak after heartbreak in his makes an attempt to get there.
“Yearly, a lot of expectations, a lot of nice gamers, however one thing lacking,” Ovechkin mentioned after one other disappointing season got here to an finish, in response to CBS Sports activities. “This group of fellows can do higher and larger than simply the second spherical.”
The issue is, again and again they have not confirmed that to be true.
The final time Washington superior previous Spherical 2 was in 1998 after they have been finally swept by the Purple Wings within the Stanley Cup Ultimate. The Capitals have endured first and second spherical exits in eight of the final 9 seasons, the lone exception being a playoff absence in 2013-14.
Six of these eliminations got here in do-or-die Sport 7s. This yr, they could not even push the Penguins to that time.
For his half, Ovechkin did what he may to try to carry his membership this postseason, ending with 12 factors in 12 playoff video games, together with seven in opposition to the Penguins. Armed with offseason imports in T.J. Oshie and “Mr. Sport 7” Justin Williams, who wasn’t supplied a Sport 7 to shine in, Washington appeared able to take the subsequent step.
It did not. There’s loads of blame to go round.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (1-1–2) was a whole no-show after having an amazing postseason final spring. Brooks Orpik took a double-minor that led to 2 Penguins targets in Sport 6 and his nasty hit on Olli Maatta brought about certainly one of Washington’s prime defenseman to take a seat out Video games 3-5 with a suspension.
Maybe given the Capitals’ sordid historical past, we must always have seen this coming.
Perhaps when the Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 sequence lead in opposition to the Flyers in Spherical 1 after which struggled to remove them till Sport 6, the alarm bells ought to have rang louder. Maybe the truth that they have been enjoying a red-hot Penguins crew that’s 22-5 since March 11 ought to have been an indication that this wasn’t the yr.
Washington made it appear like it was set to cease mighty Pittsburgh by taking Sport 1 of this sequence in time beyond regulation. It then misplaced three straight contests earlier than successful Sport 5 to stave off elimination for another recreation.
Regardless of what the Kings and Blackhawks might make everybody imagine, the Stanley Cup is the toughest trophy to win in sports activities. Maybe no crew realizes that greater than the Capitals.
Ovechkin, 30, gained the Rocket Richard Trophy for the sixth time in his profession with 50 targets this season and his 525 profession tallies are essentially the most by any Russian-born participant, however the NHL’s richest prize nonetheless eludes him.
The Capitals captain will all the time be in comparison with Sidney Crosby, however the one factor the Penguins captain has over his counterpart is a Stanley Cup.
Crosby is now 2-0 in opposition to Ovechkin in playoff conferences, the final coming in 2009 when the Capitals blew a 2-0 sequence lead and misplaced in seven video games. Crosby hoisted the Cup that yr, his just one thus far, however could possibly be nicely on his option to one other one.
On this sequence, Ovechkin had two targets, seven factors and was a plus-2, whereas Crosby had no targets, two factors and ranked a minus-2. But, it is Sid the Child who’s shifting on.
The Penguins tried their hardest to offer Sport 6 away and present the Capitals an opportunity to win Sport 7 again in their very own constructing. Pittsburgh jumped out to a three-goal lead earlier than blowing it on home-ice and took three straight delay of recreation penalties, permitting Washington to tie it late at 3-3 and drive time beyond regulation.
Jay Beagle nearly turned a hero along with his game-saving play in time beyond regulation, however mere moments later he turned only a footnote after Bonino beat Holtby, who tied an everyday season document with 48 wins this season, to ice the sequence. Holtby did all he may this postseason, rating first amongst second-round goalies with a 1.72 goals-against common and a .942 save proportion.
The Capitals have been world-beaters all common season lengthy, however fell when the lights burned brightest.
As soon as once more, summer season has come early in Washington, D.C.
Do you imagine Alex Ovechkin will ever win a Stanley Cup?
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