For some, tonight’s overtime Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers was just another crushing defeat for the Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals. Those around the team seem more optimistic … at least those who can digest it already, that is.
Head coach Barry Trotz praised the Caps’ big-time players even as the sting of that 2-1 OT defeat lingers, as the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt reports.
“We’re learning from our history and we’re looking it right in the eye,” Trotz said. “We went after this game…and almost pulled it off.”
“I think my top guys delivered. All my top guys…They grew up. They grew today.”
Braden Holtby echoed Trotz’s thoughts, right down to talking about growth, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
“If we keep growing the way we grew this year we’re going to do some special things,” Holtby said.
Trotz also backed up Ovechkin’s now-ill-fated guarantee one more time:
It’s easy to see why the Capitals aren’t throwing each other under the bus. This series was about as tight as it gets with all seven games being decided by a single goal. Washington may have been in round three if a few extra bounces went its way.
Of course, there is one naysayer side to growth talk: in a salary cap era, you may lose key contributors to free agency like Mike Green and Joel Ward. It’s also difficult to ignore the fact that Alex Ovechkin will turn 30 around training camp time (the age where most snipers begin to decline in production).
Still, the Caps saw promising work in year one under Trotz, and one can assume that young players including Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky will only get better and gain more trust from their head coach.
Don’t get things twisted, though; not every member of the organization is taking the loss in stride just yet.