Saturday, June 05, 2010

2009-2010 Caps Season Wrap-Up Part I

Well, the Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways...  As disappointed as we were with the Caps untimely demise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, it turned out for us, and maybe the Caps too, to be a blessing in disguise.  With everything that has gone on in our personal and professional lives since Game 7, we have a hard time wondering just how in the world we would have been able to keep up if the Caps had advanced further and further into this year's playoffs.  And the time way has given us a chance for a little less emotional perspective on the season which is always good.

#1.  If we learned nothing else about this team, it is that it peaked too soon this season.  That and nobody in their right mind could predict what happened in the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season.  The top 3 seeds all went out in the first round and seeds 7 and 8 faced off for the Conference Finals.  That does not happen very often , so not only were the Caps not alone in the unmet expectations department, it was just a fluky playoff year.  Maybe next year the Caps won't try to push so much out of the regular season.

#2.  Bruce Boudreau is going to have to change his style.  No we're not calling for a switch to the trap and a totally defensive oriented mindset.  However the run-and-gun style he's installed is detracting from the defensive system he is trying to use.  Maybe it is that maturity factor creeping in again, after all the oldest of the core players is just 26 years old.  But Boudreau also has to stop playing favorites among certain players and punishing others when they have bad games/mistakes.  The first round disaster was not Boudreau's fault alone but he bares a fair amount of responsibility with the way he manages the lineup.

#3. George McPhee's to-do list has grown.  Part of Bourdeau's lineup issues stems from the fact that he's doing the best he can with what he has.  The Caps have a superb top line, a second line that would be the top line on half of the teams in the NHL (in spite of the lack of a true second-line center)  one that you could designate as 1-B.  A third line that plays more like a second line and one of the better fourth lines in the NHL.  But what this season and playoffs exposed was the lack of a true third-line checking unit.  In addition to finding a center for the second line and a top-drawer, physical, stay-at-home-defenseman;  McPhee needs to give Boudreau the proper tools to build a third line checking unit.  This is something that the Caps have lacked since the Halpern-Konowalchuk-Dahlen unit was broken up.

Overall, there are still bright days ahead for this franchise.  Yes, tweaks need to be made but a total and complete overhaul is not needed.

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