Time For A Move?
The Capitals are reeling. The three-game road trip was ugly. It got progressively worse as the trip went along. The offense is doing next to nothing and the defense remains suspect as it has all season. What to do? GMGM must be thinking long and hard right now about possibilities. Do I trade a player to shake things up? Is the coach’s job in jeopardy. Ironically it was around this time a few years ago that Bruce Boudreau got hired. Maybe now is the time for him to go. Something is not clicking between the players and coaching staff and a shock to the system could be what is needed to jolt this bunch of currently underachievers out of their malaise.
There are certainly arguments to keep Boudreau. He’s got a spectacular winning percentage and last year’s swoon around this time of year was met with a radical change that worked … until it didn’t in the second round of the playoffs. But there is a big argument for letting him go. The team is just not responding to his message any more. The power play has become predictable and stagnant and there hasn’t been much change to it. The defense, which buckled down last year after an eight-game losing streak is not performing at all and hasn’t been much of the season (even during the hot streak to start the season there were signs of struggles and breakdowns in the defensive zone). None of those problems appear to be addressed from outside oberservers. Has Boudreau lost the team? Have his tactics got stale? Can he adust once again like he did last year or is this team incapable of responding to anything he does anymore? Those are the questions that GMGM must be asking himself right now.
If, ultimately, GMGM decides Boudreau is still the tactician to get the job done and it’s simply a matter of players underperforming he could shake up the roster. There’s no doubt the team is underperforming and players are not living up to expectations. Maybe it’s time to get guys out of their comfort zone by trading a player and I don’t just mean a depth player. The moves would have to be big and bold. Want to wake up Ovechkin? Trade Alex Semin and see if that gets him more motivated. On defense, Mike Green’s absence has been devastating. In games he plays, the Caps are 8-0-0. When he doesn’t they are 2-7-1. He’s the most important player on this team. He makes the power play go and outside of maybe Karl Alzner is the best player they’ve got in their own zone – particularly because he can get the puck out of the zone, something the Caps have struggled to do repeatedly this season. A trade that could bring in another strong defender would be ideal. John Erskine and Jeff Schultz are not cutting it at the bottom of the defensive group. Roman Hamrlik has struggled some to adapt as well to his new team. So maybe an Erskine or Schultz gets shipped out as well? Maybe Semin gets traded for a top-end defensemen, bumping everyone else down and Schultz and Erskine become scratches with a new d-man and Green in the lineup. GMGM has to be thinking out these scenarios right now as well. He constructed this team and it’s not performing to the standards expected of it. Either it’s because of the tactics being employed by the coach or his message is getting lost and he must go. Or the players are simply not executing and one or two of them need to go to jolt this team back to life.
Is it too early to panic and make a rash move? Maybe. This team has had major swoons like this one before and recovered during the regular season. But what makes anyone believe that the way this team has performed so far this season can translate to unprecedented success in the playoffs (and right now the playoffs are a question mark) based on this season’s performance? There is no evidence this team as it is currently constructed with the current coaching can do anything more than it has the past few years and that’s flame out in the playoffs. Something needs to be done to try and get this team back on track. It wasn’t that long ago that a Thanksgiving shake-up revitalized this franchise. Maybe a new coach or a big trade would do just that.