Flip the calendar back to January.
The Washington Capitals had one win in their first seven games. But after a terrible start, they found their game as the season wore on, eventually taking the Southeast Division.
They finished the regular season with an 8-1-1 record in their final 10 games, giving rise to the belief the Capitals could cause some damage in the playoffs.
It didn’t work out that way. The Capitals won the first two games of their first-round series against the New York Rangers, but lost four of the next five games, capped off with a crushing 5-0 defeat on home ice in Game 7 on Monday.
“This is the best team, team-wise, that we’ve been on. We had the depth, we had the coaching, the structure, the system,” Capitals’ defenseman Mike Green told the Washington Post.
“Things that happen during series that just seem for whatever reason at the wrong time happen to us, that’s no reflection of the guys in the dressing room or how bad we wanted it. The heart and the depth of the guys throughout the lineup is not the reflection of how it should end. “
Capitals’ star Alex Ovechkin threw 13 registered hits in the final loss. But he was held off the actual score sheet.
In fact, Ovechkin didn’t record a single point in the final five games of the series and was a combined minus-three over that span. He was also reduced to one shot on net in Game 7.
But he had 13 hits.
“It’s very frustrating,” Ovechkin told NHL.com. “You’re here to win the games and try to win the Cup.”