I’d be lying to you if I told you that I haven’t had this on my mind recently. Neil Greenberg, Contributing NHL writer to Washington Post and ESPN, wrote an article for the Washington Post Friday about whether the Capitals need to change the core or not, that I found myself thinking about for the rest of the day. He talks about the more things change for the Capitals the more they stay the same. Four coaches in three years, plenty of free agents coming and going, and one thing stays constant; The Capital’s core has not produced. The Capitals have done nothing but slowly deteriorate since the 2009-2010 where they won the President’s Trophy with 121 points. But even that season ended in disappointment with the Capitals losing in the first round to the 8th seed Montreal Canadiens. The next season they finished with 107 points, the 2011-2012 season they mustered 92 points, 7th in the East, and went 30-23-7 after firing Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. Dale Hunter did lead the Capitals to a first round win against the Boston Bruins but fell in the second round to the New York Rangers.
This year as well as the past few have seen the Capital’s see poorer and poorer even-strength play. In the 2007-2008 year they saw their highest Fenwick percent when the game has been “close” at 55.5%, this year the percentage is down to 46.2%. The Capital’s aren’t playing well in “close” games because they aren’t getting the shots or scoring chances. Another upsetting stat for the Caps is that since the 07-08 season only 23 of the 44 teams with 20-23 points in the first 20 games make the playoffs. Even worse for the Capital’s is that they have an even-strength Corsi of 47.8%. Of the 25 teams with 20-23 points in 20 games and a Corsi% below 50, only 7 have made the playoffs.
The Capitals have had almost the same roster for the last five years, so after three different coaches, three different systems, and no change should the core be the next thing to change to find results? Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer have played on the second line this season but the productivity from the pair is not worth the minutes they get. In Brooks Laich’s case it isn’t worth his contract. The same could be said for Mike Green who has yet to score a goal this year. Or are the problems somewhere in the front office? General Manager George McPhee (GMGM) has been around for 16 years, so maybe the change needs to be there? Personally I think a change in GM and players is in order. I have been opposed to some of the trades that GMGM has made, in particular the trades that saw young prospects such as Cody Eakin and Filip Forsberg part ways with the Capitals. Although the Capitals did benefit from both trades, they never quite sat well with me.
Whether its players or front office, something needs to change for the Capital’s to get their first ever cup, the question is when and what.
Shout Out to Neil Greenberg, he has a big influence on my writing. You can follow him on the Twitter machine @NGreenberg. #FancyStats