Since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the Washington Capitals bench in November of 2007, the franchise has undergone a transformation that few could have predicted. Boudreau inherited a team that had raw talent and potential, and turned them into one of the most dominant regular season teams in the league, simply by letting the Capitals play to their strengths.
However, as exciting and gratifying the regular season performances by Boudreau's Capitals have been, their postseason showings have been even more disappointing. During Boudreau's four seasons with the team, the Caps have captured four consecutive Southeast Division championships and twice have been the best regular season team in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, that hasn't translated to success in the playoffs, as Washington's postseason record is 17-20 over that span, and they've only won two playoff series during that time.
Last year, after the Capitals were embarrassed by the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round, after blowing a 3-1 series lead, many called for Boudreau to be fired. Instead, General Manager George McPhee stood by his head coach and players, and they entered the 2010-11 season eager to redeem themselves.
Fast forward a year, and the Capitals are in virtually the same predicament. They suffered a bitterly disappointing loss at the hands of a team that they were supposed to be better than, and many of their star players had lackluster postseasons. In a way, getting swept the way the Caps did this year was worse than losing to Montreal in 2010, because they were beaten so thoroughly from start to finish.
When great teams underachieve in the playoffs, the typical knee-jerk reaction is to fire the coach, rightly or wrongly. In the case of the Capitals, it's a difficult decision because the players are so fond of Boudreau, and they've seemingly grown up as a team together. However, there comes a time in the development of many great teams where a drastic change must be made, and the Capitals are nearing that point.
Boudreau, the 2007-08 Jack Adams winner as the league's coach of the year, is obviously a great bench boss, but sometimes that just isn't enough. Sometimes, when a coach and team have been together for too long, a coach's messages begin to fall on deaf ears, which at times seemed to be the case in Washington this year.
With that being said, if the Capitals are serious about winning a Stanley Cup in the near future, they need to at least consider a coaching change. It's not a lack of knowledge or ability on the part of Boudreau, but rather it's the team's inability to adapt their style of play to counter the game plans of other teams and coaches.
So without further ado, here are the top five reasons that the Capitals should consider replacing Boudreau behind the bench for next season.