Despite a disappointing first round exit at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, it appears as though the job of Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau is safe for the time being.
"We have good coaches and they are going to be here for a long time," Capitals' general manager George McPhee told reporters Friday as the Capitals cleaned out their lockers. "That equation is not part of the issue."
Boudreau was highly criticized following the Caps early exit after the team's once-potent power play went 1-for-33 against the Canadiens and Washington failed to adapt to the Habs physical style of play, blowing a 3-1 series lead. McPhee stated that he did not believe that the full responsibility of the Caps' collapse should fall on the shoulders of the coach.
"Everybody has to take their full share of responsibility here," said McPhee. "But I can't lose sight of that we do have is a good team, it is well coached, we have good players, we had a good season. I can't allow five or six days when things didn't go well for us to skew what we think of this team, this organization and this staff."
Forward Brooks Laich agreed with McPhee's assessment and said that the onus for the Capitals downfall should be attributed to those on the ice rather than the beleaguered head coach.
"This criticism is not just," Laich said. “Nobody cares more about this team than Bruce. There is no coach in the NHL who is more prepared than Bruce. He's at this rink earlier than any other coach. He watches hockey later than any coach. Any criticism directed toward him should be directed at us players."
While Canadiens' goaltender Jaroslav Halak deserves a great deal of credit for allowing only three goals in the final three games of the series, the Capitals were handcuffed by a lack of production from several of their top players.
Forward Alexander Semin, who finished seventh among regular season goal scorers with 40 did not light the lamp once in the series despite firing 44 shots at the Canadiens net. He was held to just two assists in the seven-game series.
Joining Semin in the Caps doghouse was Norris Trophy nominee Mike Green who also failed to find the back of the net after leading all defencemen in scoring in the regular season. Green compounded matters by taking a penalty that led to the Canadiens' first goal in Game 7 and he made a questionable defensive decision to allow Dominic Moore's series-winning tally.
While captain Alex Ovechkin finished the series with 10 points, he had only one assist in the Caps final two games. He was at a loss to explain his team's collapse.
"Our team in the regular season and our team in the last two games of the playoffs was a different team," Ovechkin told reporters. "We didn't score goals. In the regular season, we could score lots of goals. Even when were down 3-1 or 4-2 we could come back and win the game, but we didn't score."
With eight players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in the off-season, including goaltender Jose Theodore, changes are undoubtedly on the way. With the coach getting a vote of confidence from the general manager, it appears that a tweak is more likely than a complete overhaul. Considering that the team won an NHL-high 54 games this season, it is likely the most prudent decision. That is a sentiment that team owner Ted Leonsis reiterated on his blog on Thursday.
"We won't do anything rash or make any decisions out of emotional angst. We will collect our thoughts. We will be energized by our failure."
Regardless of potential changes, it will be a long off-season in D.C. as the Capitals lament missed opportunities.