May 13, 2012
No shortage of questions in D.C.
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
Maybe the time has come for the Washington Capitals to say ‘C’ ya later to Alex Ovechkin’s captaincy.
If you’re going to win in the playoffs, you need your best players to lead the charge and it’s easy to argue the Capitals were hardly able to play follow the leader if they were watching Ovechkin in this post-season.
Should Dale Hunter (and that’s very big if) return as the club’s coach next season, Ovechkin doesn’t strike me as Hunter’s type of guy. He didn’t turn to his superstar until the Caps needed a goal in the final two minutes.
Ovechkin was minus-1 and had two shots with 20:54 of ice time in Game 7. It was hardly good enough.
THE MORNING SKATE
New York G Henrik Lundqvist looked good making save-after-save-after-save when his club pulled out to a 1-0 lead. He made huge stops on Mike Knuble, Alex Ovechkin and Knuble again. This is the first time he Lundqvist has won a second round playoff series in three attempts.
“It takes a lot of work to get here,” said Lundqvist, who had 22 stops, to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. “We’re getting close. We’re still not where we want to be.” ... Referees Dan O’Rourke and Chris Rooney put the whistles away and let them play. That was the best call of the night. There were only three power plays and one of those was a stupid delay of game to the Rangers for putting the puck over the glass.
OFF THE GLASS
The Devils must have been sitting back, relaxing and watching the Caps/Rangers beat each other up in a series that went the distance. New Jersey sent Philly packing in Game 5 Tuesday ... Every time I see Washington GM George McPhee I wonder what he does he do to relax or if he relaxes at all? ... Don’t bet against the Rangers in a Game 7 at MSG. The club moved its record to 5-0 lifetime with the victory Saturday and the second Game 7 win in these playoffs. The Rangers knocked off Ottawa 2-1 in Game 7 in Round 1. F Ruslan Fedotenko has never lost a Game 7 either. He is 6-0 in his career.
THIS N’ THAT
You have to think this was LW Alex Semin’s last game with Washington. Making $6.7 million this season, he had a lousy 3-1-4 points in 14 playoff games and couldn’t bury a great chance in the second. Next stop for Semin is the KHL .... A steal of a line from Saturday Night Live that worked by CBC’s Jim Hughson before puck drop: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.” ... This was the first time in the playoffs the Caps entered the third period trailing. They finished the post-season 0-6 when giving up the first goal.
AROUND THE BOARDS
The biggest warrior in Game 7 was Washington’s Brooks Laich. He blocked a shot with his heel from Rangers' D Dan Girardi in the second period and didn’t even miss a shift. Then, for good measure took one in the face as well ... Rangers coach John Tortorella treats everybody the same way and doesn’t play favourites. NBC’s Pierre McGuire asked what New York had done to work on its power play during off-days in the first period. “I’m not telling you,” said Tortorella ... No surprise this Game 7 was low scoring. That’s the way the whole series was played. It wasn’t about to change.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM
Is there anything more deflating than giving up a goal on the first shot in Game 7? The Caps had to battle back after G Braden Holtby allowed Rangers C Brad Richards to score his sixth of the post-season glove side at 1:32. “You prepare all day ... Zingo ... A goal like that,” said Don Cherry on the Coach's Corner ... The shift by the Caps midway through the second keeping the pressure on in the Rangers zone for 1:58 had to be some of the best work we’ve seen in these playoffs. Washington simply didn’t shoot the puck enough and that was a problem the whole series.
RUMOURS DU JOUR
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has been quietly trying to peddle unhappy captain Rick Nash but it’s difficult to find serious interest now. Sources say Sharks GM Doug Wilson, who made a serious pitch in February, is willing to revisit talks after a first-round exit. I’m told Wilson informed the Jackets the Sharks would sweeten the offer in June ... Expect Leafs GM Brian Burke to make a pitch to Edmonton’s Steve Tambellini for the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft. Toronto is scheduled to pick No. 5 but Burke has never been shy about trying to move up and Edmonton is open to offers ... Expect Philly GM Paul Holmgren to make a pitch for the negotiating rights to Nashville D Ryan Suter if he doesn’t agree to a new deal with the Predators. The Wings will certainly be among the teams that hold talks along with Minnesota.