Capitals Lose Fourth Straight; Its Time To Make a Change: Boudreau Must Go

Alan ZlotorzynskiCorrespondent IIIDecember 10, 2010

WASHINGTON DC, DC - MARCH 08:  Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Dallas Stars on March 8, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The Stars defeated the Caps 4-3 after a shootout.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Most of you are saying calm down amateur electronic media boy. The Capitals are just going through a little slump and it’s something every team experiences. True, it is a little slump and true, every team experiences it, but not every team is loaded like Washington.

Washington is stacked. You know the names, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green. The Caps have enough talent to win 40 games without anyone standing at the back of the bench telling them what to do. However, a proven veteran coach with a successful post season track record could put the question of what's missing to rest.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has done his job and has done it well. The following comments are not meant to be derogatory toward the coach but Bruce Boudreau belongs in the NHL's top minor league system, The American Hockey League.

He was a head coach in the AHL for parts of nine seasons and won almost 70 percent of his games there, compiling a record of 216-56-43. As an AHL player, he was one of the league’s most prolific scorers and was inducted into the AHL Hall Of Fame in 2009.

He won a Calder Cup Championship for the Capitals' top minor league affiliate, The Hershey Bears in 2006, doing it with many of the players he coaches right now in Washington.

Under Boudreau, the Capitals have had their best three-year regular season stretch in franchise history. They are 159-65-31 during that time. So, how can I even justify replacing him, you ask?

Boudreau's specialty is developing talent. The Washington Capitals have a ton of talent that Boudreau helped develop himself while in Hershey as the head coach. Young people and athletes in particular get antsy and bore quickly of authority. Even if Boudreau is trying to give the discipline these young Caps require, they are showing signs of no longer buying into his system.

With his time in Hershey and Washington, Boudreau has been around most of these players for almost seven seasons. Coaching systems as well as a coach’s message can get stale in that amount of time.

The Capitals have not started fast in the first period this season; they have been outscored 25-21 and rank in the bottom ten in the league when it comes to winning games after scoring the first goal. Seven times this year, the Caps have given up the tying or go-ahead goal after the halfway mark of the third period. Three times, they have surrendered three goal leads in the third period alone.

A head coach must have his team prepared to play. In hockey, the first five minutes are crucial. With their youth, speed and talent, the Caps should be scoring quick first period goals in most of their games. Good teams must have a finishing and killer instinct in them. The Capitals allow teams back into hockey games almost nightly.

It's time for this organization to bring in someone that has been there before at the NHL level. While it would be a great story if the Capitals could do it with Boudreau, it seems unlikely. His past three post-season appearances with Washington are a mirror image of past Capital post-season collapses.

Last year, as the No. 1 seed and Presidents' Trophy winner, Washington blew a 3-1 series lead to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadians, losing on home ice in seven games. That was the second time in two years Boudreau's Caps have blown a series lead and lost game seven on home ice.

The Caps are still very young and it would behoove upper management to consider a few more deals at the trading deadline. The recent acquisition of veteran defenseman Scott Hannan was a step in the right direction for this year’s post season, but a few more veterans may be needed to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

Replacing Boudreau now and bringing a veteran coach in to lead the Caps may also be necessary.

It's not unprecedented that a winning team fires its coach and makes a change mid season. During the 2008-09 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins fired Michel Therrin and replaced him with Dan Blysma. Blysma and the Penguins would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Boudreau called out his star players by name in his post game news conference following last night’s loss. He implied that during the power plays in which they went 0-8 last night, each didn't play within the system, played as individuals and weren't producing as they should have in the last 11 games.

The Capitals are 4-7 during this stretch and have been shut out three times. Currently, they own a four-game losing streak. Boudreau said that he noticed the players were hanging their heads and that they almost seemed as if they knew they weren't coming back to win last night’s game. This was in the second period.

If Boudreau recognized this and couldn't fix it against the Florida Panthers, a team the Caps beat six straight times until last night, could it be a sign of things to come?

I believe in order to spare a whole generation of new Capitals fans the playoff misery of the past, it is necessary to cut the head off the snake now, in mid December.

Waiting until they finish the season with 110 points and blow another playoff series wouldn't do much good. To most diehard Caps fans, that would be another wasted season.

Replacing Boudreau now would send a clear message to the core of this team that only a Stanley Cup is acceptable. With every star player 28 years or younger, it’s definitely not too late to continue to develop and mold them. The result of last year’s playoffs isn’t acceptable, nor is being shutout in three of their last eleven games.

The trend of the snake bitten playoff tradition must not continue with the Great Eight and company. It sounds selfish to write that a coach who has won 62 percent of his games for your team should be fired, but the time is now. Boudreau must go.