As you bet on Blackhawks Flyers games in this year’s Stanley Cup finals, you have to wonder why the Washington Capitals are not there. The Capitals got side-tracked by a lot of things in the 2010 playoffs, but fixing their problems can be complicated.
One of the Capitals biggest assets is fiery forward Alex Ovechkin, and one of the Capitals biggest liabilities is fiery forward Alex Ovechkin. As it gets down to crunch time, the entire Capitals team is constantly looking to get Ovechkin the puck, or they stand around trying to see what Ovechkin will do next. Ovechkin is the polar opposite of a team player, and until he starts believing in the talent of his teammates the Capitals will be in trouble.
The other problem for the Capitals is in net. Jose Theodore is a good goalie, but if he was a playoff caliber goalie then the Canadiens may have kept him. Theodore was awful in the playoffs, and was pulled in lieu of Semyon Varlamov in game two of the first round. Varlamov got the team rolling in the playoffs, and then the Capitals just could not score on the Canadiens. In order for the Capitals to win in 2010-2011, Varlamov needs to be healthy all season long and be in the nets for the beginning of the playoffs.
How much longer are the Penguins going to cling to the illusion that Marc-Andre Fleury is a playoff goaltender? With a roster that includes players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, you would expect the Penguins to win their second Stanley Cup in two years. But when the team needed the goaltender to close the door, he could not.
All of the Crosby nay-sayers need to wake up and look at the games that were played between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Crosby had 19 points in the playoffs, better than a point a game, and did everything he could to push the team into the next round. The Penguins were undone by terrible goaltending, and until they fix that problem they will have trouble getting their championship back.
San Jose Sharks
What keeps happening to the Sharks in the playoffs after they consistently have one of the best regular season records in hockey? The problem for the Sharks is that they cannot score in the playoffs. When the crunch was on in the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, top San Jose guns Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley were nowhere to be found. Joe Thornton was neutralized by being double-teamed wherever he was on the ice, and he was powerless to help the Sharks win.
Marleau’s contract is up this season and the Sharks would do well to let him go. The Sharks need to surround Joe Thornton with young talent that has size and speed just like Thornton has. Thornton does not have many years left, so if the Sharks want to win the Stanley Cup they need to make some changes and bring in some new offensively-capable players now.