The Washington Capitals’ 2009-2010 regular season has ended today after playing the Boston Bruins in an essentially meaningless game in terms of playoff implications. Therefore, it does not really hurt the Caps that they lost 4-3.
The Bruins defeated the Capitals in a shootout that did not include Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom. Rather, the shootout lineup consisted of Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley. The third shooter, who did not appear because Boston won the shootout on only two goals, can be left up to the imagination (I joke that it would have been Jason Chimera).
“I thought hard about it,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said about his decision to put “so why not give some guys that don’t have a chance that work their rear ends off an opportunity to get a little bit in the limelight. I’d do it again if I had to”
Despite the lack of urgency to win the game though, the Capitals still tried complete a few other tasks today. Semin was able to record 40 goals this season when he scored his 40th on a gorgeous snapshot that went up and over Tim Thomas’ shoulder in the first period.
Most of the game appeared to be spent trying to get the puck to Ovechkin so that he could increase his lead over Steven Stamkos in race for the Maurice Richard Trophy (most goals scored). Unfortunately for Washington, Ovechkin was unable to score a goal, much less a point, in today’s game. It seems that now Sidney Crosby overtook the lead from both Ovechkin and Stamkos with 51 goals.
In an explanation as to why Ovechkin couldn’t score, Boudreau said, “Boston looked to me like their whole concern for the most part was to not let Alex [Ovechkin] score.”
Today also consisted of some scoreboard watching. The Caps’ playoff opponent was to be announced after the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers played their final games. The Rangers, who were out of the playoffs at the start of the day, would be in the playoffs as the 8th seed if they beat the Flyers. If the Flyers beat the Rangers though, then the Montreal Canadiens would have taken the 8th seed and play Washington.
It so happens to be that the Flyers defeated the Rangers 2-1 also as a result of a shootout; thus, the Canadiens will be the Capitals’ opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
Washington’s regular season has been the best in the franchise’s 35-year history with many records broken and other notable achievements: a first-ever President’s Trophy, third-straight Southeast Division title, a second Eastern Conference title, the most wins and points in franchise history (54, 121), and the most road wins with 23.
However, even though the season was full of franchise-firsts and many other exciting occurrences for the Capitals’ fanbase, the players have been in a playoff spot for almost the entire season. A situation like this causes some to be concerned about the Capitals’ preparedness for the playoffs, after sitting for over a month playing games that do not mean so much to their season. Nonetheless, the Capitals are not so concerned about the playoffs.
“They’re looking forward to a different kind of challenge,” Boudreau said about the team’s relief that the playoffs are finally here.
“Anytime you get into the playoffs it’s a fun time.” Jason Chimera said. “It’s a great time of year and you look forward to what’s going on.”
The Caps will have Monday off, and then will resume practice on Tuesday. Washington’s first game against Montreal will come on Thursday, April 15 at the Verizon Center at 7pm. The game will be shown on Versus.