After last season's abbreviated playoff run, Washington Capitals fans, tired of Game Sevens and early post season exits, wondered aloud if the Caps' run-and-gun system actually worked when it counted.
Sure, the Caps pumped plenty of shots at Jaroslav Halak over the last three games of the series. But in the end, they managed only a goal apiece in those games. Clearly, the offense was unable to produce goals and a hot goaltender was able to shut them down. Fans called for a change; a tweak to the system that would allow the Caps to succeed in the playoffs, hot goalies be damned. So what did the Caps' coaching staff do? They instituted a trap defense. And yes, it's working. But how is a trap going to help in the playoffs if the team suddenly couldn't score three goals if Slapshot's life depended on it?
Sadly, the answer is 'it's not'.
In a season full of perceived flaws (horribly average powerplay; young defense and goaltending; no true 2C), it seems as if the Caps' players, coaching staff and front office have one true flaw this season. That flaw?
Listening to us.
Caps fans scream for changes to the system and the system changes. Caps fans scream for a veteran defenseman and 'POOF!', Scott Hannan. Caps fans scream 'shoot it!' during the powerplay and the Caps rip off a low percentage, sharp angle shot when one more pass would mean a tap in. We're an educated a fan base and we all have opinions on what's ailing the Caps. But sometimes our collective calls for change lead to something unexpected: actual change. Clearly, we Caps fans are far too influential for our own good.
We've become the fan equivalent of the overbearing hockey parent who tells our kid's coach what he should do and yells from the stands at kids who just want to have fun. Sooner or later, the coach and the kids can't help but take notice. It stops being fun. I don't know about you, but I hate that parent. So whether you like it or not, I'm issuing a statement on behalf of all Caps fans:
Please don't listen to us.
Play whatever system you want. Shoot the puck whenever you want. Play whichever players you want. Just stop listening to us. We've proven we can withstand a rebuild and shown that we trust the powers that be to get it right. Sure, we each want our idea on how to fix things to be the one that takes the team to the next level. We're just not always right. We all want to be coaches and GMs.
Sometimes it's best to just be fans.