Bruce Boudreau: Is It Too Late to Save the Washington Capitals' Season?

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIINovember 28, 2011

ARLINGTON, VA - NOVEMBER 28:  Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter watches members of the Washington Capitals practice at Kettler Iceplex on November 28, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. Hunter became the head coach after Bruce Boudreau was fired.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

It was expected. Alex Ovechkin was unhappy and when a team's superstar is unhappy with the head coach, chances are it's going to be the head coach that gets the guillotine. 

The Washington Post has reported Bruce Boudreau is out as the Capitals head coach, and Dale Hunter in. Boudreau had explosive regular seasons in recent years but playoff success was minimal. 

It's easy to blame the coach in these kind of situations, but the Capitals have bigger problems than just their head coach.

Maybe the Capitals' team chemistry isn't at its strongest, but there was a time when Boudreau still had control of the team, yet they still couldn't succeed at the highest levels. Even with this coaching change, there is no reason to believe that the Capitals are all of a sudden going to flip a switch in spring and win the Stanley Cup. 

The Capitals haven't really changed. There still isn't much help for Alex Ovechkin; Alexander Semin only has 10 points this season; Nicklas Backstrom is a solid piece, but is he enough? Probably not, as he wasn't enough in the past.

That being said, the Capitals Ovechkin-Backstrom scoring punch will be enough to help them win the NHL Southeast, especially now that Ovechkin is expected to open up and be more of an offensive threat in the Capitals system.

Also, the fact that the Boudreau-Ovechkin rift is officially over will also help the Capitals in their run towards the playoffs. 

However, it doesn't just end there—teams need a solid shutdown defensive pair for any shot at the Stanley Cup.

They also need solid goaltending. Washington's addition of Tomas Vokoun has not really panned out as well as they hoped. His goals-against average is currently at 2.82, and his save percentage at .905. Those numbers may be alright, but they're significantly worse than his numbers in Florida, where he played for a team with absolutely no defense to speak of.

Speaking of having no defense, the Capitals don't have much of that either. Karl Alzner and Dennis Wideman are not going to be able to contain guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, Brad Richards and the strong bunch of Philadelphia Flyer forwards. 

The Capitals are going to have to play a fast-paced game like they did in 2010, when they won the President's Trophy. Then, in the playoffs, the Caps are going to need some absolutely stellar goaltending from Vokoun if they want to succeed.

The Capitals have enough firepower to make it through the regular season and even secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But it's the same old story with them—it's going to take more than a coaching change to right this ship.

Vokoun needs to return to form and the Caps need to make some big defensive acquisitions to even be considered a threat to teams like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. Some grinding role players would also be helpful for Washington. 

The coaching change is a step in the right direction; there won't be any outside distractions anymore and Alex Ovechkin can return back to his scoring form. Still, if Ovechkin wants his ring, then general manager George McPhee and CO. still have much work to do.