Hump Day Hockey: Did Ovechkin just miss his best chance?

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Image: Washington Capitals / Twitter

You have to feel for Alex Ovechkin today. His Washington Capitals were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 yesterday. It’s a crushing blow to him, and his teammates.

This was Washington’s year. It’s similar in a lot of ways to the 2011 Canucks.

Just like the 2012 Canucks, the Capitals will have a good team again next year. But will it ever set up like this again? It didn’t for Vancouver.

Washington should have another serious push next year though.

Ovechkin will turn 31 in September and most of the key pieces for the Caps are still under contract next season.

Pointing Fingers

As with any time a team like the Caps are gone in the second round, people look for a scapegoat.

Ovechkin, the usual scapegoat, can’t be blamed this time around.

Ovi had 7 points (2-5-7) in six games.

You know Crosby would have been thrown under the bus by the media if the Pens didn’t advance. After 8 points (3-5-8) against New York in round 1, Crosby had just 2 assists in round 2. We’d probably be comparing him to Jonathan Toews again for some reason.

The fact of the matter is that hockey is a team game. Even the best players in the league can be shut down for periods of time, and it’s at those times that his teammates need to pick up the slack.

Even the great Jonathan Toews had just 3 points (1-2-3) in six games with the Blackhawks in last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

The question with the Caps is, what happened to their leading scorer in the regular season, Evgeny Kuznetsov? He had just one assist in the series against the Pens, and just two points in the playoffs overall.

If Kuznetsov produces modestly, perhaps the Caps move on. He’s still just 23, so he’ll probably learn a lot from this experience.

Big game for Flames in Big D

The Flames’ season is over, but there’s a lot on the line for them tonight in Dallas. The Stars and Blues are playing Game 7 and Calgary will be cheering for the Stars.

The conditional pick that the Flames received for Kris Russell will change from a second to a first if the Stars make the conference final.

Winning without Stamkos/Seguin

How incredible will be if the Lightning and Stars make a conference without Steve Stamkos and Tyler Seguin, respectively?

I mean, seriously.

Although it must seem a bit unfair that Tampa – who finished below Washington in the standings by 23 points – drew 93-point Red Wings in Round 1 (Washington played 96-point Flyers) and 100-point Islanders (Washington got the 104-point Penguins).

The new divisional playoff format is undoubtedly good for regional rivalries, but it’s definitely less fair. It also matches up teams like the Caps and Pens in the second round instead of the Conference Final where they probably belong.

Boudreau in Minny

Unfortunately for Bruce Boudreau, I don’t think Minnesota is the place for him to shed his reputation as a coach that can’t win in the playoffs.

Does Minnesota strike you as a team that will come out of the Central Division anytime soon? Their top players (Parise, Suter, Koivu, Vanek, Pominville) are all on the wrong side of 30.

They’re good, not great, and I think that’s the way it’s going to stay. Too bad, because I’d love to see likeable Boudreau win a Cup one day.

The Crow flies again

Marc Crawford is back in the NHL, this time as an assistant with the Ottawa Senators. This is pretty unprecedented for a Cup winning coach – Crawford won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996 – to go back to being an assistant.

Other than Larry Robinson – who prefers being an assistant – I couldn’t find another example of a Cup winning coach being an assistant later in his career.

Hamonic takes it back

Travis Hamonic to the Oilers made so much sense. Well, until he took it back!

Apparently Hamonic’s family member’s health has been stabilized. And that’s great news.

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
@robthehockeyguy

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