Tag: playoff failure

Matt Hackett, Alex Ovechkin

Fall from grace complete: Minnesota mathematically eliminated from playoff contention


This season will end the way each of the three previous to it have for the Minnesota Wild: Out of the playoffs.

The Wild’s loss to Washington yesterday mathematically eliminated the Wild from playoff contention and according to Michael Russo of The Star Tribune, things could possibly get worse for the team standings-wise.

That seems like an eternity ago, as does that Dec. 13 game at Winnipeg when the Wild was still first in the league. Now? It is 25th – but one point up on 29th, which would give the Wild the second-best possibility of winning the April 10 draft lottery and the right to pick No. 1 in the June draft. 

The Wild’s fall from grace is one of the more incredible feats we’ve seen this season and it’s impressive for all the wrong reasons.

Hockey Wilderness pointed out after yesterday’s game that Minnesota will be the first team to miss the playoffs after being in first place in December. The Wild were in first place as late as December 17 but since then they’ve gone a paltry 11-26-5. Minnesota won’t be alone in their fall-from-grace shame, however, as the Maple Leafs are on the brink of elimination themselves. Misery does love company after all.

More Caps talk: GM George McPhee expects Boudreau back; Should he be?

Bruce Boudreau
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We’ve had more than our fair share of Capitals fallout talk today from figuring out what went wrong to hearing from owner Ted Leonsis. One figure we haven’t heard from yet is general manager George McPhee.

With everyone taking care of the postmortem discussion today, McPhee did give his take on things after the Caps were swept out of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning. With McPhee being the mastermind behind the Caps roster and how they’ve been put together the last few seasons, he’s feeling a bit of the heat as well.

When asked about whether or not he thinks coach Bruce Boudreau will be back next season with the team, his take on things wasn’t too surprising given how tight knit the front office is.

Ryan O’Halloran of CSN Washington gets the take from the Caps GM today.

“I expect him to be back, yeah,” McPhee said at Kettler Capitals IcePlex, hours after his team was bounced by Tampa Bay. “He’s a good coach. Somebody said he’s not a playoff coach. There’s no difference between a playoff coach and a regular season coach. You’re either a good coach or you’re not and he’s a good coach.”

Boudreau is a good coach for a team in the regular season. That’s not the issue for the Capitals. The problem is the playoffs where the Caps haven’t gone past the second round the last four years. Whether that’s because the Capitals keep running into hot teams, hot goalies, or just wear down into the playoffs doesn’t seem to matter. Having the same results year after year mean that something has to give.

Should it be Bruce Boudreau though? Does the Caps coach deserve to come back next season and give it another shot to get the Caps in the Stanley Cup final? Let us know in our poll and in the comments what you think.

Game of the Week preview: Rangers try to avoid repeating nightmare finish

Marian Gaborik

You’ll have to excuse Rangers fans if they’re starting to look a little more pale and they’re not eating normally they way the did earlier this year. They’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach and it’s one they’re a bit too familiar with. In case you’d forgotten, and if you’re a Rangers fan you’re punching your computer screen upon reading this, the Rangers lost out on a playoff spot on the last game of the season last year, losing to Philadelphia in a shootout. With the win, the Flyers made the playoffs and the Rangers were out. Philly, of course, went on to the Stanley Cup final where they lost to Chicago.

Rangers fans and perhaps some players as well thought “that could have been us” when seeing the Flyers roar through the Eastern Conference playoffs on the way to a shot at the Stanley Cup. With that sort of motivation you’d think the Rangers would be doing everything in their abilities to make sure they don’t miss out on the party again.

Things had been looking positive for the Rangers on that quest to make the postseason until recently. The Rangers have lost three of their last four games and as we’ve seen elsewhere in playoff races any cold streak like that hurts. For the Rangers it’s knocked them down into a points tie with the Sabres, but the Rangers hang on to the eighth spot thanks to tiebreakers going in Buffalo’s favor.

When tomorrow’s game drops the puck in Philadelphia, the Rangers could see the Sabres ahead of them by one or two points and the Hurricanes hot on their heels trailing them by one or two points. Three teams vying for two spots in the playoffs makes playing the regular season feel like the playoffs because every game from here on out is huge. To the Rangers credit, they’re still very confident in themselves. Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants has this to add from coach John Tortorella.

Though coach John Tortorella certainly expressed things he did not like about Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Islanders and Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Buffalo, he also told his team he and his coaching staff believed in the players and had their backs during the team meeting. And the players certainly believe, with four regular season games remaining, that controlling their destiny is key.

“We’re not in the 13th or 14th spot,” Tortorella said. “We’re right in the middle of it. We’ll respond the right way. I have full faith in them.”

Confidence is a big thing to have, and for the Rangers that all starts with Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist has been other-worldly this season with 11 shutouts and standing out as a potential Vezina Trophy finalist. When the offense has gone through the motions and the injuries to their top players like Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan it’s been Lundqvist that’s held it all together for the Rangers.

It’s a familiar juxtaposition considering that last season’s playoff chances went by the wayside thanks to the Flyers beating Lundqvist in the shootout and this year it’ll all fall on his shoulders again to keep the team locked in place for the playoffs. As King Henrik goes, so do the Rangers. We’re sure he’d love to see the Rangers drop another seven spot on Philly tomorrow to send the message that they won’t be going away quietly.

Then again, if you’re thinking things will be that easy for New York, you haven’t been watching them much this season. After the game against Philly, the Rangers wrap the season with games at home against Boston, Atlanta, and New Jersey. Boston still is fighting for a better seeding atop the East while Atlanta and New Jersey (especially) will be looking to spoil their plans. If the Rangers playoff hopes come down to that game against the Devils, Rangers fans might want to find a safe place to hide out for the night lest the nightmares of last year come roaring back all over again.