Ovechkin says Capitals are in 'middle of nowhere'

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm •  Published: April 14, 2014
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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Explaining early playoff exits became an annual, awkward task for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. This season, for the first time since 2007, they didn't even make the postseason, so now there's something new: real uncertainty.

Four years removed from winning the Presidents' Trophy, Washington is in the "middle of nowhere" and in a "hard position," is the way Ovechkin put it.

The Capitals did not make any immediate changes or announcements about the job status of coach Adam Oates or general manager George McPhee on Monday, the day after the regular season ended.

Oates, at least, has one year left on his deal. McPhee is not under contract for next season and met Monday with owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick; the team said those three will reconvene "again later this week or next."

McPhee declined to speak to the media Monday, while Oates said he had not received any indication about his future.

"I don't really know what to expect, what to think," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "But you would imagine when you miss the playoffs completely that you do a whole re-evaluation of what's going on."

After making late pushes to get into the Stanley Cup playoffs in recent seasons — but never, during Ovechkin's time, making it past the second round — the Capitals finished with the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference. Their 90 points were three fewer than Columbus and Detroit, who got the wild-card berths in the East.

Among the problems that stuck out for Washington: a propensity for giving away leads (they let a two-goal advantage slip away in 12 games); a lack of 5-on-5 scoring (Ovechkin did not have a single point in such situations in March); no long winning streaks (their best run was four games); up-and-down play on defense (its 240 goals allowed were more than any team that reached the playoffs); the team set a record by playing in 21 shootouts (its tiebreaker record was 10-11).

"We weren't quite there to be a high-powered offense team. We weren't quite there to be a strictly defense, shut-'em-down team. We weren't quite there to be a grind-it-out-and-make-'em-really-work-for-it team," Alzner said. "So we were bits and pieces of everything. But maybe we need to next year focus on one aspect and really nail that down and have that as our identity and then have bits and pieces of other things."