Photo credit: Paul Bereswill
The Washington Capitals played their season on the edge of a knife. After losing Bruce Boudreau and picking up Dale Hunter in November, the Caps adopted a style of play that yielded smaller margins of victory, but more rarely imploded spectacularly.
Tonight the Capitals lost their final coin toss.
The New York Rangers, like the Bruins before them, played a sturdy and physical series. Girardi kept Ovechkin from scoring the 234235 goals he might have otherwise. Henrik Lundqvist (who deserves the Vezina) performed like the marquee player he is. Brad Richards earned his ludicrous paycheck.
There is no monumental failing to pin this on. No personality flaw or injury or malign external force can take the blame. The Caps played the best hockey they could muster and came out on the losers in the end. There should be no shame in that. “Choking dogs” can lie down.
What we can observe, and what we can quantify, is that Hunter Hockey is a meeker brand that what we are used to here in DC. Gone are the highs and lows of the Boudreau era, and in their place is the tedium of stability, the banality of tension. While it is tight and prudent, Hunter’s style is unadventurous to a fault. It is a poor match for the personnel this team has on payroll. As JP observed, Hunter yielded results like a coin flip.
Hunter hockey does not soar.
But that’s the extent of my pessimism. We have so much to be in love with right now; I’m practically puking rainbows through my tears.
The right honorable gentleman Braden Holtby is a firebrand. The hockey cognescenti said he’d be this team’s big weakness. They couldn’t have been more wrong. If you asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have called Braden Holtby trade bait. Now I’m calling him the core of the Washington Capitals. He’s the young gun. Keep him.
Mike Green, Jay Beagle, and Nick Backstrom each recovered from catastrophic injuries and distinguished themselves in the postseason.
Alex Ovechkin is a superstar. Whatever gripes we have with his tactical choices, they will never eclipse our awe. We freaking named the site after the guy.
Alex Semin? It’d be nice if he could produce after the quarterfinal round, but he’s coming back next year. You know it and I know it and naughty little Sasha knows it too.
We have seen the last of some players in Caps uniforms. Mike Knuble jumps to mind. That breaks my heart.
Okay, that’s enough for now.
It’s been a long season. It’s been a hard season. But above all else: it’s been weird.
We at RMNB traffic in weird. Thank you for following along with us as we documented the smorgasbord of WTFery that was this season. It’s been our most successful year to date, and we’ve got even bigger things planned for the future.
Don’t be a stranger this summer. There are Very Big Things coming.
Finally, please say hello in the comments. We owe you so very much for giving us someone to talk to and now we’re bonded together– you and me. It’s only right that we know each other’s names. We’re family now, sticking together til the end of the… well you know.
And oh yeah. Crash the goddamn net.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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