Caps’ Backstrom: We need to learn how to play in the playoffs

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After the New York Rangers’ 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 7, forward Nicklas Backstrom was asked what kind of lessons his team could take from their first-round exit.

“Lesson? Maybe learn how to play in the playoffs, I would say,” Backstrom said, according to the Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “It’s the same thing as previous years.”

This is the second straight year that the Capitals have dropped a Game 7 against the New York Rangers, but it runs deeper than that.

Over the last six years the Washington Capitals have won their division five times and have consistently made the playoffs. Despite that, they have been unable to make it to the Stanley Cup finals. Over that time, the Capitals have tried to shake up their tactics and plenty of key players have been replaced.

All the same, Washington hasn’t been able to step up in the postseason.

“It feels like deja vu,” Backstrom admitted. “It happened before.”

Big changes probably aren’t coming for the Capitals. Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have been locked in to long-term contracts and the Capitals don’t have any major unrestricted free agents outside of 33-year-old forward Mike Ribeiro. Additionally, Adam Oates will almost certainly return as the team’s bench boss after their impressive late season surge that got them into the playoffs in the first place.

Barring a blockbuster trade, this group will get another chance next year. We’ll see what they can do with it.