The Caps will win tonight. But if they don't, you can rest assured that changes will be a'coming. However, neither George McPhee nor Bruce Boudreau will be fired.
In about 4 years, they have taken the worst team in the NHL, and turned them into a President's Cup winner. Their minor league clubs have won multiple championships the last few years and the Hershey Club broke the record for most wins ever in the regular season this year. They are loaded from top to bottom, and as bad as a first round loss would be, firing one or both of those guys would be a mistake.
Boudreau has won multiple championships while coaching their top level minor league team in Hershey. I know that is a far cry from the NHL, but it means he knows how to win and it also means that he has been coaching nearly the entire core of this team since the organization drafted them. He knows the players and their capabilities better than anyone, and in return they are comfortable with him and his style.
The team has gotten better under him every year. When he took over, they had the worst record in the league at Thanksgiving and he guided them to a miraculous turnaround, making the playoffs on the final regular season game. This series might prove different, but the team has advanced a step further, both in the regular season and the postseason, each year under his guidance.
Exactly what is it that Boudreau has or hasn't done that might have already given the Caps a victory in this series?
They lost in OT in Game 1 with Halak playing great. They then proceeded to outscore Montreal 15-5 from the third period of Game 2 through Game 4. They were extremely flat through the first 20 minutes of Game 5, and if you want to put that on Boudreau, then go ahead. But Monday night, they outshot their opponent by some 30 shots and just simply fell victim to a goaltender that stood on his head and stole a victory. In hockey, that happens from time to time, and it's why you see so many more upsets. Jesus Christ could've been on top of that bench Monday night and it wouldn't have made a difference.
But the Caps are not going to lose. The "due factor" as it pertains to this series, is overwhelmingly in the Caps favor:
*The Caps are a dismal 1 for 30 on the power play in this series. During the regular season, the Caps were batting over 25%, scoring 79 times on 313 opportunities, essentially boat racing the rest of the league. In 4 games against the Habs during the regular season, the Caps were 3 for 17 with the man advantage.
*Alexander Semin. A 40 goal scorer during the regular season, Semin hasn't scored a goal this series, and has just one point through the 6 games. Amazingly enough, Semin is leading the NHL post season in the statistic of shots on goal!
*Getting out to an early lead has been a struggle for the Caps. They've only done it once this series, and that was following a scoreless first period in Game 3. The NHL leaders in points scored, are due to score early, and often.
*The Canadians finished out the regular season losing 8 of 11. They've only scored more than 3 goals 3 times in their last 20 games played. Those type of numbers, against the leagues leading point getters, doesn't bode well for a formula that would include winning 3 straight post season games, after going down 3 games to 1.
I hope that by 10 pm tonight this whole discussion will have been a big waste of time and that I will be diving right into my game film of Philadelphia to prepare for another grueling series. But if the worst case scenarios comes true, and the Caps are sent home packing early, I think some personnel changes would be a much more prudent approach to the offseason than firing the coach and/or GM. If it happens again next year, then by all means pull the trigger.
Keep the faith my people, and remember to rock the red tonight. 7-2 Caps. UNLEASH THE FURY!!!
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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