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So the Washington Capitals got bounced from the playoffs in just four games against a team they beat out for the division lead. And now there's talk — foolish, foolish talk — that, as a consequence, so too will Bruce Boudreau's tenure as the team's head coach end.
This is, maybe, the dumbest thing I've heard someone say about hockey all damn year.
Theoretically and based on their regular-season records, the Capitals should have advanced past the second round before this year. And if they had, we wouldn't be having this ridiculous conversation. But the playoffs are an inherently unfair and flawed system, one which benefits lucky clubs rather than good ones; though the two are not always mutually exclusive (see also: Red Wings, Detroit, 2008).
But guess what: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one lucky-ass team. They got every bounce in a four-game series to go their way. They got better-than-could-be-reasonably-expected-from-an-octogenarian goaltending. They got some mediocre performances from a couple of Capitals, who, one can reasonably suspect, were pretty banged up.
They were, to put it succinctly, not exactly the better team in this series.
Remember, this is the same team that peed down its leg in the second half of the season when it started leading the division, while Washington rebounded from that lengthy losing streak around the Winter Classic and clobbered everyone in its path en route to the top seed in the East. No small feat.
And the reason it was able to do that?
Bruce Boudreau. Pretty much solely.
His insistence on switching to a reasonable, slightly more defensive brand hockey rather than trying to win games 6-5 every night was largely predicated on the idea that this style of play is how you "Win In The Playoffs." He and GM George McPhee worked hard to craft a team that could execute that type of game, and they saw the fruits of that labor in the back half of what was after all a very successful regular season, as the team jelled and adapted to the new system.
We saw it, too, in the first round, when the Capitals disemboweled the New York Rangers just like everyone on the planet who doesn't own a Rangers jersey knew they would. But things go wrong in the second round, and suddenly a lot of Chicken Littles start pecking around the Caps dressing room asking asinine questions.
If this type of change is being considered, then I'm a little surprised. To be fair, McPhee said he "expects" that Boudreau will be back. (Leading me to believe that the decision might come from a bit higher up the food chain; say, the owner's box).
Those who would promote such a move can point to moves like the one made in Pittsburgh in 2008-09, when Dan Bylsma was brought in midseason and somehow/someway got a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin playing out of their minds to a Stanley Cup title when Michel Therrien could "only" manage a Cup final appearance.
Obviously Bylsma is a great coach, but I bet that the extra summer of tinkering with the roster, acquiring a few different guys at the deadline and letting young players develop for another season contributed more than a little to the new guy's seeming alchemic success.
Along the same lines, one has to wonder if Marcus Johansson or John Carlson or Karl Alzner or Michal Neuvirth will be more effective players next year, or if any free agents brought in to help streamline the team's play in its current systems will help. The smart guess: probably a little.
It doesn't help that Alex Ovechkin went around guaranteeing the team would win both games in Tampa, then amending that to "win the series" when the first game in St. Pete didn't work out. That just sets Boudreau up to fail because, with all apologies to the 2009-10 Flyers, teams just don't come back from being down 3-0.
And really, who could do a better job with the Capitals as currently constituted than Boudreau? The NHL head coaching ranks are getting so thin that the Devils are considering bringing Ken Hitchcock aboard. Ken Hitchcock! Imagine that?
The fact is Boudreau has won the division each of the last four years and, in the last three, averaged 112 points a season. You don't ride Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexes Ovechkin and Semin to 112 points a year by chance, or by being anything else than a great coach.
It's unfair to label a guy a choker or say he can't get it done in the postseason when everything but the final score of the games indicates he coaches the best and most efficient team on the ice in not only the regular season, but also all the series they've lost in the last few years.
Again, the playoffs are ruled through the tyranny of small sample sizes. Boudreau's teams essentially lost three one-goal games (the 4-2 scoreline in Game 1 came due to an empty netter) to a Bolts team that statistically should have failed. These weren't humiliating blowouts — unless you count Mike Green's doors on the Game 3 winner — but rather skin-of-their-teeth victories that could very easily have gone the other way. Hell, only one team wins the Stanley Cup every year. And that doesn't even make the coach who Got It Done a genius.
Fire Boudreau? Honestly?
To paraphrase the man himself, "That's really [expletive]in' dumb."
The most talked-about part of the Nashville Predators/Vancouver Canucks series hasn't been the stunning play of Pekka Rinne or whether the Sedin twins have been on dialysis between shifts, but rather, whether two idiots in green body suits who everyone is kinda sick of hearing about should be allowed to continue to behave like idiots.
Hockey Night in Canada personality Glenn Healy repeatedly expressed his dislike for the Green Men, before later recanting, but the good folks at the Kurtenblog got to wondering: Why is Glenn Healy so angry, really?
Tweeters had some theories.
@gottabe_KD: Colby Armstrong was paid more for 1 week of work on TSN than he makes all season
@lmchew: Upset at the number of "dislikes" Rebecca Black is getting on YouTube
@graeme_0: Saw the GEICO ad on the wall
@IvanJWhite: all paychecks made out to "the guy who sits next to __________ during the hotstove"
@Driedg: his kids insist on calling him "redlight"
@Hstands4Hockey: Feels he should have got the Game 7 start in 1994.
@TheFecklessPuck: Got snowed by Joe Thornton
@camcharron: PJ Stock is kicking him from beneath the HNiC desk.
And your winner:
@Carkeez: Osama Bin Laden owed him $50.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on vacations: "Best thing about Cabo is you dont have to leave the pool to pee."
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