Ovechkin era Caps in need of a history lesson
The failures of the Washington Capitals have been discussed and debated at length. Some want Coach Boudreau or General Manager, George McPhee fired while others want a player purge. Consensus between all factions is Ted Leonsis can't repackage this team "as-is" and sale it for the 2011-2012 season. Perhaps the answers to the most pressing issues for the Caps can only be answered by looking at the only Caps team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals.


As a lifelong Caps fan I see this current team in historical perspective. This young team is talented but it has yet to become a real team in my opinion. I remember the 97-98 Caps team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals only to be swept by arguably the best hockey team in history in the 97-98 Detroit Red Wings. Starting with their Hall of Fame Coach, Scotty Bowman that Red Wings roster reads like a Hall of Fame roll call list. In short, there is zero shame in being swept by a team that good. Of course as a Caps fan it felt crappy to lose but that was one hell of a Red Wings team. The 97-98 Caps were solid from the goalie out and most importantly they were accountable to each other as well as consistent. That 97-98 team knew who they were and even more important how they had to win. That team won with the basics of defense, goaltending, positioning, transition play and timely goal scoring. The 2010-2011 Caps are still seeking some answers to some very basic questions. 

Olie Kolzig was an absolute beast in net, the Caps defense was the best in the league and the Caps had a Slovakian (thanks for the correction..as I called him Russian) named Peter Bondra that was the only consistent scoring threat yet they got it done. That team played smothering defense and relied on a fabulous transition game along with excellent positioning. You did not have to tell the 97-98 team to go to the net with their sticks down ready to make a play. You did not have to tell the forwards to get back and help out the defense. The 97-98 team fails in comparison to the Ovechkin era Caps in terms of talent but they were a better/smarter team. 

The new generation of Caps need to determine who they are and stick to it. Both the coaches and the team members need to hold each other accountable for consistency. Stanley Cup winning hockey teams have discipline so you can't have one group free-lancing while the rest of the team tows the line. The last element of success for the new Caps is to get back to the basics of the game. Why is it Bruce Boudreau has to tell a team with Stanley Cup aspirations to go to the net? Seriously? That is the kind of stuff you learn in pond/starter hockey. Ovechkin plays with passion and determination but his evolution into a smarter hockey player is critical. Boudreau also needs to evolve into a smarter, more forceful and consistent coach. 

The Caps are a young team so some growing pains are to be expected but you cannot use the young excuse forever because these guys have been together for 4 years. In order to see progress some of these guys may have to depart because ultimately they may not be the best fit. If the current Caps need a blueprint for success look at the only Caps team to advance to the finals and they will get some answers.


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