I think everyone who's been even remotely following the NHL Playoffs can tell you that it's been one hell of a ride.
After a long and hard-fought first round, those who deserved to make it through lived to fight another day, and those who weren't as determined are hanging up the skates for the summer.
Unfortunately for the players who couldn't give that extra push, we've begun those few weeks where every hockey fan thinks he's a genius and starts pointing fingers.
This year's Blame Game is already in full swing, with claims like "not scoring enough," "not saving enough," and simply "not enough" running rampant in hockey circles everywhere.
What do I have to say to those players who didn't cut it?
Fans and critics alike have to learn how to lay off and point their fingers somewhere else. Don't think so? I'll prove it to you.
Take Alex Ovechkin, the young, score-at-whim phenom who is arguably the greatest player in the world right now. A week ago: everyone's favorite player. This week: everyone's favorite goat. In my opinion, that's completely bogus.
Ovechkin is one of the most efficient scorers in the league and a tremendous leader for the young Capitals team. What people need to realize is that the Stanley Cup doesn't go to the team with the No. 1 goal scorer in the NHL. It goes to the best team, something the Capitals are not.
Suspect goaltending and a huge lack of defensive depth are very big reasons why Washington got ousted last week by Montreal. So give the guy a break; he did what he could, scoring five and adding five more helpers. That's top-10 in the playoffs (including second round games). Yeah, back off.
Another example, or examples: Marty Brodeur and Ryan Miller. No doubt they are the reason their respective teams were seeded as highly as they were. They were both starring in their roles and did what they could for their teams, but like I said before, it's about the team. The fact is that their teams left them stranded. Buffalo should have won and pretty much handed it to the Bruins, and the Devils could have won but had no heart.
Bottom line is no one is to blame for the first round losses except for those players who scored the opposing team's game-winning goal. It's a team effort to win and a team effort to lose. So next time you feel like pointing fingers, maybe you should think twice as to where to point it.