x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Plenty of blame for humbled, tumbled Capitals

It wasn't Washington's defence that cost them the series it was their supposed strength, their offensive prowess, that let them down.

Well, well, Washington ? that did not exactly work out as planned, did it? The mighty Capitals, who steamrolled through the regular season, scoring four goals a game and easily capturing the Presidents' Trophy as the league's top team, were shocked into an early summer by the upstart Montreal Canadiens in Round 1. Making matters worse, the Caps had jumped out to a 3-1 series lead only to lose three games in a row en route to a humbling elimination, mostly due to the stellar goalkeeping of Jaroslav Halak, the Canadiens goalie.

Washington's detractors jumped at the opportunity to pull apart the Caps, pointing to goaltending and defensive deficiencies, Bruce Boudreau's coaching, a one-for-33 power play, Alex Ovechkin's inability to come up big when his team needed him most, and, well, you get the idea. There was a lot of blame to pass around, and the most likely explanation was a combination of the aforementioned factors as opposed to just one lone cause.

To be sure, the Capitals could use a hard-rock, stay-at-home defenceman in the mould of the unheralded Josh Gorges, the Habs defenceman who did an admirable job in shutting down Ovechkin. But in the end, it wasn't Washington's defence that cost them the series it was their supposed strength, their offensive prowess, that let them down, playing too much of a perimeter game and allowing Halak to see too many of the shots that were directed his way.

sports@thenational.ae