Boudreau, Caps must translate off-season success on to the ice
Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee on paper has given his team the necessary pieces to be more competitive in the NHL playoffs. McPhee chucked some dead weight (Semyon Varlamov), brought in more physical players in Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Mattias Sojgren and Roman Hamrlik). He replaced departed checking line depth with former captain Jeff Halpern and added some serious goal-tending depth with the unbelievable acquisition of the best goalie on the UFA market in veteran Tomas Vokoun.

McpheeThe accolades and compliments keep pouring in from all the NHL talking heads but sadly this is July not October or April for that matter and off season acquisitions mean nothing if they fail to get the Caps where they need to go. I wrote prior to the NHL draft that in order to keep his job George McPhee must have a very productive summer. It appears McPhee has upheld his part of that bargain and then some. This now places the burden of turning this retooled team into champions squarely on the shoulders of Capitals Head Coach, Bruce Boudreau. Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis stated that Boudreau's fate lies squarely in the hands of McPhee when many were calling for Boudreau's head so you can expect McPhee to be closely watching the progress of Boudreau and this team as if both of their jobs depend on it. In all likelihood it does.

Boudreau and OvechkinBoudreau must start with himself. He has to become a more disciplined coach. He must hold ALL of his players accountable for their actions on and off the ice. Boudreau must also get back to the basics because if you have to tell players to go to the net that is a coaching problem. Boudreau's first test of growth is how he deals with his talented but non-focused Captain. Boudreau has to be the one to sit Ovechkin down and tell him to to tighten his act up and lead from the front. Ovechkin has become stagnant. You can see that teams have figured him out so he needs to get back to working on his game and leave the ladies, sports cars and partying alone. If Ovechkin responds negatively then Bruce needs to be the one to take that "C" and give it to a guy willing to step forward and lead. Bruce also has to up his coaching game because guys like Dan Bylsma and Guy Boucher have leap frogged him in terms of getting their teams further faster. Boudreau can no longer panic and place the fate of the team on Ovechkin and Semin whenever times get tough. He must implement a system that best fits his players and stick to it. He has to let lines develop chemistry and he must punish guys who stray from from the system or make costly mistakes. Accountability, discipline leads to trust and consistency. The Caps could use more of that.

Boudreau has to stop being everyone's buddy and be the coach of a team with Stanley Cup expectations...not aspirations. Since the Caps have shown a lack of fire ins some of the most critical moments Boudreau has to be a hard-ass and constantly push guys. He will make some enemies and some guys may want to leave because they got their feelings hurt but that comes with the territory. Leadership is lonely sometimes but you have to, chuck dead weight,  keep your eye on the prize and keep moving forward. 

On paper the Caps look very imposing but it will be the actions as well as the non-actions of Bruce Boudreau that determine the fate of the Caps. If Bruce can elevate his game like McPhee did the Caps can expect a better result when the games matter most.

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