Washington’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers in Game 7 Saturday night put an end to its Stanley Cup playoff run, marking the fifth straight year the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals have failed to advance beyond the second round.
After entering the 2011-12 campaign as Stanley Cup favorites, the Capitals have certainly fallen short of expectations. But this season was different from 2009-10, when eighth-seeded Montreal pulled a seven-game upset. It was certainly different from last postseason, when the Capitals’ top scorers stood and watched as they got swept by Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
So how do you frame a trying year for Washington, one in which a playoff berth was in doubt until the second-to-last game of the regular season? The head coach was fired, the system changed, the stars underachieved and the injuries piled up.
All things considered, can 14 playoff games against the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds with a tighter defensive system be considered progress? Or acceptable? Or is it still black and white: Cup (or at least conference finals) or nothing?
We’ll have more to come tonight and over the next few days, but in the meantime share your thoughts in the comments section below.