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Capitals clear lockers and speak of frustrating early exit

TSN.ca Staff

5/15/2013 2:20:37 PM

The Washington Capitals held their season-ending media availability at the team's practice facility on Thursday, less than 48 hours after being eliminated by the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

And no one could have been more honest about their season than forward Brooks Laich.

"These days suck," he told reporters. "There's no way to polish a turd."

The Rangers beat the Capitals 5-0 in the seventh and deciding game of their series on Monday night, eliminating Washington for the second year in a row.

Monday's early exit was the sixth career postseason defeat for Hart Memorial Trophy finalist Alex Ovechkin, who voiced his frustration to Slava Malamud of the Russian newspaper Sport-Express following the loss.

"I am not saying there was a phone call from (the league), but someone just wanted Game 7," he told the paper on Monday. "For the ratings. You know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit. I don't know whether the refs were predisposed against us or the league. But to not give obvious penalties (against the Capitals), while for us any little thing was immediately penalized."

Capitals general manager George McPhee said he "didn't like the refereeing" in his team's first-round playoff series and said the way calls went "sure didn't feel right."

Meanwhile, Rangers head coach John Tortorella felt the Capitals may not have been in the best mindset for the series. 

"We've got everybody and their brother whining out there in Washington about what happened in that series and I think that's a big reason they lost that series," said Tortorella.

Ovechkin added that the team should also make re-signing Mike Ribeiro a priority, words that flattered the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent.

"To hear it from him is nice," said Ribeiro. "He's a powerful player. He can score. He's a young player who can still learn a lot about the game, and how to play it."

Ovechkin was held scoreless for the final five games of the first round series and was held to a single shot on goal in Game 7. He had just one goal and one assist in the series. He led the NHL in power-play goals during the regular season (16), shots on goal (220) and tied teammate Ribeiro for the league lead in power-play scoring (27 points).

First-year head coach Adam Oates spoke of Ovechkin's comments and said that it showed the kind of person his star player is. "He does take it very hard. That's a great sign of character," said Oates. "He texted me 20 times until 2am after Game 7. He was very upset."

Forward Nick Backstrom didn't mince words about the team's first round exit from the playoffs.

"It sucks," he said flatly. "I don't like standing in front of you guys telling you about losing because obviously it sucks. We played better than them. They had a good goalie...hockey's not always fair."